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Top Ten Terrible Cover Versions

Posted on 20 September 2010 by Joe

Getting a cover version right is no easy task. For every ‘Man Who Sold The World’ by Nirvana or Devo’s take on (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction there’s this bunch of duds. We’ve tried to pick in the main alternative and indie songs performed by mainstream artists, but couldn’t resist including William (bad covers) Shatner as well. We’ve got a Spandau Ballet singer’s take on the Kaiser Chiefs, Mandy Moore’s butchering of XTC among our selection of some of the worst cover versions ever recorded or performed live. Sit back and enjoy this load of old rubbish.
1. Ronan Keating – ‘Fairytale of New York’

The original version, sung by Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowen, with its bittersweet lyrics and Christmas feel was a thing of great beauty. Years later enter Ronan Keating in his squeaky clean Italian brogues to trample all over this classic. He claims that it is one of his favourite tunes. Why ruin it then, Ronan? For god’s sake man, leave it be.

2. Tony Hadley – The Kaiser Chief’s ‘I Predict A Riot’

It sounds crazy; that smooth crooner from Spandau Ballet covering stadium indie rockers The Kaiser Chiefs, but the more I hear this the more I like it. Hadley has still got it after all these years. It’s still pretty odd though.

3. Mandy Moore – XTC’s ‘Senses Working Overtime’

Covering XTC is no mean feat. A wholly original English band whose songs always lack something when covered by others. Among the best are They Might Be Giant’s version of ’25 O’Clock’, originally by XTC as their psychedelic alter-egos Dukes of Stratosphear. But among the worst are Primus’s butchering of ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ and this abomination by Mandy Moore.

4. Paul Young  – Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’

Paul Young gives a masterclass in sucking the soul out of a song and vomiting it back up again. Many have covered this classic and all have failed, especially Young.

5. Celine Dion and Anastacia – ACDC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’
In many polls this has been voted the worst cover of all time and rightly so. Dion’s attempt at mimicking ACDC guitarist Angus Young is particularly cringe-worthy.

6. Atomic Kitten  – The Paragon’s ‘The Tide Is High’

Jamaican band The Paragon’s 1967 song ‘The Tide Is High’ was lost for many years until Blondie picked it up in 1980  and did  a pretty decent job covering it. Two decades later Atomic Kitten decided to have a go. Their sugary sweet version is so poor it actually makes my ears vomit.

7. Wurzels – Oasis’s ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’

Look, this is just better than the original. It seemed a bit weird to put it in a best covers list, so its here mainly for being odd and quirky. These pensioners from Somerset, who had a hit in the 70s with ‘Combine Harvester’ and still play in barns across the west country inject some much needed oomph into Oasis.

8. Avril Lavigne – System Of A Down’s ‘Chop Suey’

Ever wondered what Megadeath would sound like sung by a chipmunk. Unfortunately, we will never know. But the nearest we may come to an answer is this version of American rockers System Of A Down’s Chop Suey by tiny-child-Gwyneth-Paltrow-look-a-like Avril Lavigne. In her defence she admits it was a bit of a joke and didn’t really know the lyrics…. yer, right.

9.Duran Duran – Public Enemy’s ‘911 Is a Joke’

This is a joke, right? Sadly not, and what’s more it’s on a whole album of terrible covers, 1995’s ill-received Thank You.

10. William Shatner – Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’

Shatner proves that it is possible to look cool while at a Sci-fi event. Resplendent in tuxedo and a packet of Superkings ciggies, Shatner croons his way through Elton John’s Rocketman. This version is so bizarre that I’m starting to wonder whether something stronger than tobacco is involved in the cloud of smoke wafting around the Star Trek and TJ Hooker star’s head.


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