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Some things are better left uncovered

Sometimes you hear a cover and go to yourself, "hey, that's doper than Sam Perkins at Woodstock." Other times, you wonder (possibly aloud) "that no talent hack! They couldn't even carry [inset original artist here]'s guitar case!" [Ed. note: You should have seen what the author originally wanted to use as the carried item. Believe us, it wasn't a guitar case.]

Today was an example of the second. Some fool whose name I cannot even spare the mental RAM for, has covered "High and Dry" by the esteemed Radiohead. This is up there. With the worst covers of all time. Some songs just don't ever need to be covered. Like this one. And like "It's My Life" by Talk Talk. But No Doubt did a decent job with that one, although they crapped all over it with that video.

This one today was bad. When you do a cover, you're supposed to bring something to it. Maybe your sound is similar to the original artist's, and you bring a slightly different energy, maybe an updated feel. Maybe you go in an entirely different direction, like the late Johnny Cash did with "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode. Great cover. This chucklehead brought nothing to the table. A lot of piano and whining. "High and Dry" doesn't ever need to be covered, but Coldplay would do a better job, since they are apparently from a different dimension, one in which Thom Yorke's eye isn't lazy, and Radiohead did make The Bends II, like everyone told them to. That's what Coldplay is. Radiohead circa "The Bends" from a different dimension.

This screetchingly awful rendition made me think of other covers that were really bad ideas. Here they are in no particular order:

  • "High and Dry" by an idiot
    We need to get some big government grants to develop new adjectives to describe the badness here.

  • "Sweet Child o' Mine", Sheryl Crow
    What. The. Fuck?

  • "Lovesong", 311
    Go back to the skate park anthems.

  • "Landslide", The Dixie Chicks
    It's not good when Billy Corgan sounds better than you do.

  • "Our Lips Are Sealed", Hillary Duff & sister
    Given the nonexistence of vocal talent in the Go-Gos, you would think that this was one of those covers that would be better than the original. You'd be wrong.

  • "American Pie", Madonna
    Um. No.

  • "Take My Breath Away", Jessica Simpson
    You're not doing yourself any favors when you're a slightly talented blonde and you're taking on a song done by a very talented blonde. The comparisons just will not come out in your favor.

Please feel free to add to this list.


Anonymous said…
This is one of the most enlightening and entrhalling things I've read in a long time .... who is this guy? Where can I find him and have sex with him?
Maia said…
Um, his wife might have something to say about that.

Funny you should mention Sheryl Crow... we're on the same wavelength (without actually agreeing because I LOVE that cover). I'd like to add:

"The Beat Goes On," Britney Spears
"Blue Monday," Orgy
"What's Going On?," assorted self-aggrandizing celebrities

Love the Cash "Personal Jesus"... love that whole album... another example of a good cover is Cake's version of "I Will Survive."
Rube Waddell said…
Cake's "I will Survive" is a classic example of a good cover. They brought a very different feel to the song and their own style. I know Darthmoridin doesn't care for Cake... but it is a good example.

Other crap covers:

Sympathy For The Devil - Guns n' Roses (so bad it broke up the band)
My Prerogitive - Britney Spears
Take On Me - Reel Big Fish (remember that auditory feces?)
You Shook Me All Night Long - Celine Dion (no comment required)

Other rockin' covers:

Man Who Sold The World - Nirvana (classique!)
Boyz N tha Hood - Dynamite Hack (long live acoustic gangsta rap!)
Dust in the Wind - Will Ferrell in Old School (how is this not available?)
Maia said…
It's also unfortunate that the "Old School" version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" isn't available. Amazing how adding one little word can make a fundamentally lame song magically hysterical.
Zach Pennington said…
There's nothing wrong with cake as long as it's got a good buttercream frosting. Amazingly, using salted butter can actually improve said buttercream in some instances.
Anonymous said…
Worst cover of all time:

Spring Show '94 - Asbestos Zombies just absolutely massacring Into the Great Wide Open.
Zach Pennington said…
I don't know who the hell you are, but the Asbestos Zombies were a great band. I hope god makes it rain on your birthday.
Anonymous said…
In the spring of '94 I was having a sexual relationship with the drummer of Asbestos Zombies, an off and on relationship that continues to this day.
Zach Pennington said…
Well, Mr. "Left Hand", I hope that works out for you.

(Note to self, evaluate pros and cons of disabling anonymous posting on my blog...)
Maia said…
Oh, is THIS where we're supposed to talk about the musicians we've dated? My bad, I thought it was about covers. Okay, then... I was supposed to go to the prom with a didgeridoo player. But he backed out because he had a gig that night. I forget what that has to do with Radiohead. But something, I'm sure.
Anonymous said…
Chantal Kreviazuk's cover of John Denver's Leaving on a Jet Plane made me want to see The Terminal.

Then of course the song wasn't actually in the movie, just the trailer. That should be illegal!

Maia said…
That cover of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" IS on the "Armageddon" soundtrack, however. Along with the Aerosmith cover of "Come Together," which, as I recall, does not suck.
Zach Pennington said…
Come together is an example of another artist quite possibly surpassing the original. Which is not to say the Beatles did a bad job or anything, it's just that I think Steven Tyler understood the total grunge and filth that the song called for.

More more examples of elevating the original, see Jimi Hedrix's covers of Bob Dylan. Then see Stevie Ray Vaughn's covers of Hendrix—sometimes I think SRV was Hendrix, although that doesn't make any sense unless you apply Terminator-type time logic.
Maia said…
Dylan is one of those cases in which MANY covers are going to be elevations of the originals. Nothing against Bob (God love him), but so many of his songs were just not meant to be sung by him. You're right, Hendrix is the most glaring instance. After you hear the REAL version of "All Along the Watchtower," you kind of wonder what Dylan was doing playing it in the first place.
Zach Pennington said…
I've actually heard that Dylan said that those songs were really Hendrix's.

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