The Bottom 10 Cover Versions
So, you've maybe checked out the top ten covers already, and admittedly it was difficult picking ten of outstanding quality that I'd like to hear again and again. There were a fair other few good ones that I really could relate to, but then again the problem with a lot of cover versions is that they're very poorly done and really insult the memory I had of the (often cool) original. Whatever's in this list, avoid. Like the proverbial plague. Don't even bother with them. Spread the word. Refuse to buy anything by the artist concerned if you have to. So what did make the covers hall of shame? Well, in order, here's what you get..
1 - Love Will Tear Us Apart - Paul Young (1983, original by Joy Division, 1980)
The original is my favourite song ever, it has warmth, it has feeling, it has structure and a killer end to boot, and so on. And so what does Paul Young do. Completely ruin it, and that is a master of the understatement. He turns it into a fest of just festering poo, there is no emotion, no feelings, no rawness, no classic Hooky guitar and then to add insult to injury a squeaky clean gloss over production with similarly smooth sickening vocal perforance. It really is that bad, and then some, and apparently the members of Joy Division who had become New Order by this time were appalled with it - and who can blame them? Paul Young should go away every time after doing this criminal disservice to music.
2 - Sweet Child o' Mine - Sheryl Crow (2001, original by Guns 'n' Roses, 1988)
I'm not even a fan of Guns 'n' Roses, yet I had no hesitation in nominating this as the second worst cover ever. Well imagine all the good bits you liked about the original, the rock guitar solo that leads you in to the tune, the pause near the end of "where do we go" and then listen as the electrics comes back in powerfully and become almost anthemic at the time. Now take that away and make a wussy countrified version of it, with the odd violin playing in the backround and Sheryl attempting to sound as if she's almost apologising for trying to impersonate a gruff heavy metal singer - and softening things to the point that not even the worst soft ballad by the likes of Extreme could compete with. It's not bad. It's utterly appalling and a complete disgrace to music in general - and yet people actually bought this pile of festering droppings. No wonder Sheryl's career has nosedived somewhat.
3 - Light My Fire - Will Young (2002, original by The Doors, 1967)
The original is one of the classic late 1960s pop/rock anthems, especially the full seven minute or so version where the band go into overdrive with the keyboards et al, before coming back splendidly in full swing with Jim Morrison vocally adding the passion you need. Now, let's see: take the passion away, make it sound like it's being done by a bad cabaret singer on a karaoke night, dress him up like a doll and make him sound like a mummy's boy, and you're only about half way to actually imagining how terrible Will Young's version is. It's a shame that the public-nominated Pop Idol had to end up doing appalling covers like this (viza viz: Gareth Gates' ear shattering "attempt" at Unchained Melody) rather than his own work.
4 - The Tide Is High - Atomic Kitten (2002, original by John Holt, 1979)
Girl Power, my arse, basically. Debbie Harry being in Blondie was one of those women in music you never minded (and I still don't mind now) because her and the band at least made some cracking good pop songs that you could define as über-classics. They also took a reggae number by John Holt (which he originally featured on his album Let It Go On), kept the Caribbean feel and just added a few little touches. Nonetheless Blondie did indeed make the song popular and most people (me included to be fair!) thought it was their own. Indeed the slick production and total ruining of the song by Atomic Kitten instead churns out the best bits of the original and part-places it into their cover along with the subtitle (Get The Feeling). What, that I'm going to be copiously sick after listening to three lasses clearly have no identity with the original and ruin it forever? Most likely.
5 - Love Is All Around - Wet Wet Wet (1994, original by The Troggs, 1966)
Four Weddings and a Funeral, fifteen weeks at UK number one, two reasons why I hate this cover. It was the song of the film of the moment, and some of the worst times of UK chart history. Surely the way that the original sounded couldn't be improved? Definitely not. REM did a good attempt of it (and had that been used in the film instead, it'd have been much better) but Wet Wet Wet turned the song into a complete over the top slushfest that made you want to go and be violently sick at every wedding you went to thereafter, knowing that overly soppy couples would use it as their first dance tune. Not to mention the smug grin on Marty Pellow's face in the video. Deservedly, the song hung like a millstone around the band's necks for ages. Haha!
6 - Under The Bridge - All Saints (1997, original by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, 1991)
Some indie-rock songs were anthems in their own right and the RHCP original definitely belongs to that category, it's a heartfelt rock piece that you could mosh to and really feel the pain of the band. So along come some young girl band upstarts and basically turn the whole thing on its head into a soul-dance fest, losing all the feel of the original and paying no respect whatsoever to how it should sound. In the end, the fact that the All Saints single got remixed a fair bit showed in the end how much they really didn't care for the heart that the original had. Bah!
7 - Boys of Summer - DJ Sammy (2002, original by Don Henley, 1984)
Don Henley's eighties drivetime anthem was one of those American AOR rock pieces that you didn't really mind, as it set the tone of the era and would be perfect background music for Crockett and Tubbs in Miami Vice, well you get the idea. The whole idea is that it's a rock tune with good guitar licks. Not to be turned into some appalling Ibiza-esque rave anthem whose children will clearly have never heard the original or how it should actually sound. And even worse, get some really average singer to sing the tune with no harmony or even a little bit of emotion. And then they had to cheek to do a Bryan Adams song in the days when Bryan Adams was half-decent, aaaaargh.
8 - Ever Fallen In Love (With Somone You Shouldn't 've?) - Fine Young Cannibals (1986, original by The Buzzcocks, 1978)
Take a classic punk anthem of all time and turn it into utter dirge sung by Roland Gift in a way that makes the life and soul and urgency disappear and you're only about half way to describing this utter tosh. It does nothing, ambles along at a really slow pace with no movement and no flow, and worst of all, no real passion, something you could never accuse Pete Shelley of. I never liked the FYC's after their ruining of this, and they got their just rewards when Weird Al Yankovic parodied one of their songs hilariously in the late 1980s.
9 - Run to You - Rage (1994, original by Bryan Adams, 1984)
And talking of Bryan Adams, love him or loathe him, his 1984 Reckless album was one of those rock classics for that era, when you consider it had the likes of Summer of 69, It's Only Love, and this original, you can see why. Along come another set of young upstarts called Rage, and what do they do? Make a seminally bad dance version of it that takes away all the grainy voiced grit of Adams and turns it into a soundtrack from the worst episode of Channel 4's "The Word" mixed with the likes of all the worst things about rave culture at the time. And a singer that tries to dance worse than Andy McCluskey of OMD, if that's possible.
10 - Perfect Day - Various Artists (2001, original by Lou Reed, 1972)
I wonder when the BBC nominated this song as their anthem for Children in Need whether they realised what the original lyrics were actually all about, eh? Anyway, the idea was a plausible charity one, get lots of different people singing a line on the record. But it didn't work at all well because the Beeb tried too hard to get too many cultures of artists on one four minute effort. So therefore we could have done with more of the man David Bowie and much less of Heather Small, ex of M-People, for instance. And for crying out loud, why the hell have Boyzone on this record? They've done enough bad cover versions in their time as it is!! A nice idea just spoilt a lot by the execution and that's why it's here, and also because the original song's feeling went.