There’s a certain art that goes into making a good cover song.
Sometimes you end up with a bold new reinvention of the song…and sometimes you get the kind of dogs that we have here. While not every one of these songs are god awful by any stretch of the imagination, they miss the point of the original of the song entirely, either not knowing how to deliver the song effectively or just not deviating from the formula in the slightest.
Even though it would make sense for some artists to play these songs straight, the worst cases here are the songs that try to go for something completely different and completely fail. Even though there’s a place for artists to experiment with someone else’s material, these are the kind of covers that actively make the original song hard to listen to after you heard what these artists have done to it.
You may be trying to pay tribute to your favorite bands, but just because you try doesn’t always mean you succeed. Here are the ten worst covers that should never have been released for human consumption.
‘Behind Blue Eyes’ – Limp Bizkit
Ever since Limp Bizkit arrived on the scene, there was always a 50/50 chance as to whether their covers were going to be good or trash. Even though the band’s version of George Michael’s ‘Faith’ was meant to be sort of a joke, Wes Borland ended up making the theme song to Mission Impossible II iconic when he brought those roaring guitars in for Limp Bizkit’s interpolation of it on ‘Take a Look Around.’
After Wes had left the band for Results May Vary though, someone really screwed up when they decided that Fred Durst should carry ‘Behind Blue Eyes.’ It’s not like the Who classic was born to fail in the hands of a metal band. The message of this song about not being able to control your anger actually works a lot better in the context of an angry nu-metal band, but the problem is that Fred doesn’t really do anything with it.
Throughout most of the song, Fred just drones on in monotone and doesn’t really raise his voice that much, almost like he’s six beers in and was asked to just sing this at karaoke in a dumpy dive bar. Although the instrumentals are decent, the addition of robot Speak n Spell style voices in the breaks of this song doesn’t do it any favors either.
There have been plenty of mediocre covers of classic rock tunes, and this probably won’t be the last of them. This song goes the extra mile though, making the original version of the song almost hard to listen to after being subjected to the whiny nu-metal version of Pete Townshend’s words.
‘Gone Away’ – Five Finger Death Punch
One of the main traits of any good pop-punk song tends to come from its speed. Even if bands like Green Day weren’t trying to be Slayer, the tempo of their music got your blood pumping.
The Offspring might have slowed things down a little for ‘Gone Away,’ but Ivan Moody’s take on the song is one of the most unnecessary melodramatic songs in metal history. Ivan’s melodrama makes the whole thing sound he’s just wallowing in his own sorrow in a way that becomes almost comical.
Thankfully Ivan has since been on the mend and has been working to get himself back together in the past few years. Maybe the most tragic part about this cover is that even the Offspring didn’t learn from 5FDP’s mistake, releasing their own terrible take on Let the Bad Times Roll. If only The Offspring realized.
‘About a Girl’ – Puddle of Mudd
Any act that came out of the late 90s post-grunge movement owes everything to Nirvana.
Even though Kurt Cobain despised the idea of his music turning into some commercialized product, that didn’t stop bands from going back to those old records and making their own millions with it, with Puddle of Mudd being one of the more notable Nirvana copycats. Nothing they did on their own however would be as awful as what happened during a Sirius XM show.
While Wes Scantlin actually performed the acoustic version of Nirvana’s ‘About a Girl’ fairly well when the band was on tour, this was clearly not the best day for his vocals, which sounded like he struggled to reach the notes most of the time. Kurt Cobain was no Freddie Mercury, but for the higher sections of every single verse, Wes sounds like he’s passing a kidney stone.
If you look closely, you can even see the band members’ facial expressions off to the side as well, almost like they’re trying their best not to burst out laughing at whatever the hell this performance was supposed to be. This might be one of the most laughable covers on this list, but you can take some solace knowing Kurt thankfully never heard it.
‘Baby Let’s Play House’ – Danzig
The past few years really have not shown Glenn Danzig in the best light.
Even outside of music, the man has already lost a bunch of his tough guy cred a long time ago, and his turn as a director has also made for some of the most unwatchable movies this side of The Room with his film Verotika. It might have seemed like a good idea to take things easy with a cover album, but this is just a total mess.
Since Danzig has been referred to as the Devil’s version of Elvis, hearing him pay tribute to the King of Rock and Roll should have been one of the easiest layups that he could have made in his career. What we get instead though is what amounts to Glenn doing really bad karaoke versions of The King.
Danzig’s choice in Elvis is extremely perplexing too, with picks like ‘Baby Let’s Play House’ and some of the more slower songs in the King’s catalog. Even though Glenn at one point could have absolutely murdered a song like ‘Jailhouse Rock’ or ‘Hound Dog,’ we may not want to hear those renditions now based on what he gave us here, sounding like a husk of his former self and just croaking out the words barely in time with the song.
‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ – Rob Zombie
The idea of Rob Zombie releasing a covers album actually sounds like one of the best things he could do.
The man is already known for some of the dirtiest shock rock of his time, and hearing his macabre take on rock classics would make for an excellent album. Whatever he does though, keep this man away from doing punk rock.
Coming together for the We’re a Happy Family compilation album of Ramones tunes, Rob’s take on ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ is messy in every sense, completely missing the point of the original song and throwing in noise just for the hell of it. While the instrumentation is decent in the background, Rob Zombie gets in his own way, his vocals sounding totally out of place.
As much as this song might miss the mark, you can almost see this working if there was a better choice in Ramones song. Rob going through his own version of ‘53rd and 3rd’ or even ‘Pet Sematary’ would have been much more interesting, but he had to settle with the most basic song that the band released.
There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of grittiness in the world of punk rock, but even the guys in Monster Magnet would be telling you to tone it down here, Rob.
‘Imagine’ – A Perfect Circle
You’re always going to be treading into dangerous territory when you decide to cover one of the Beatles.
As one of the most revered acts in popular music, you better bring something new to the table if you want your version to stand out. A Perfect Circle definitely brought something to the table with their take on ‘Imagine,’ original doesn’t always mean good. Taking cues from what they were doing just a few albums before on Thirteenth Step, the majority of this cover feels almost oddly happy coming from Maynard James Keenan.
Since this comes from the band’s covers album emotive, things don’t stay chipper for too long, taking a sarcastic tone towards at what the nation was coming to at the time in light of the Bush regime sending people off to war.
Metal is supposed to be a touch on the dark side, but this is the kind of satirical song that just makes you feel gross when you listen to it.
‘Anarchy In the UK’ – Megadeth
Half of the reason why thrash music exists is because of punk rock.
The likes of Slayer and Metallica may have been cribbing from the old-school heavy metal of acts like Iron Maiden, but there was also a healthy dose of bands like The Ramones thrown into the mix as well, bringing that fundamental speed that all good thrash thrives on. It would be a perfect fit for a band like Megadeth to actually dip their toes into the punk rock pool, but their take on the Sex Pistols lacks most of the attitude that came with the original.
Even though Dave Mustaine definitely has the kind of nasal delivery that Johnny Rotten was so good at on the original song, this is an extremely bland cover, as though they’re just going through the motions as they’re playing the song. While there is definitely some crunch in the guitars that would make Steve Jones proud, the majority of this song isn’t really the same kind of wild call to arms that the Pistols were hoping for.
People often listen to Megadeth for the complex riffs, so hearing them intentionally kneecap themselves by playing straight power chords just feels like they’re neutering their sound. Thrash might have had a tense relationship with the hair metal bands around this time, but it’s about time that we admit that Motley Crue’s version of this song actually understood the assignment a lot better.
‘Highway to Hell’ – Marilyn Manson
One of the main motivations behind shock rockers is to give the audience something that they weren’t expecting.
Shock does have diminishing returns though, and Marilyn Manson really missed the mark trying to dip his toes into classic rock. While Manson’s penchant for cover songs has actually been pretty good with his classic version of the Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams,’ he’s never been built to take on a band like AC/DC, and you can tell that he’s reaching when plowing his way through ‘Highway to Hell.’
Manson might have an impressive shout on him, but it’s never exactly been Bon Scott material even at the best of times. His approach here just seems to be to just scream along with the song and hope for the best, and what we end up with is some of the most grating industrial noise that he’s ever come up with (and that’s including the questionable albums he gave us in the ‘00s).
The instrumentation isn’t really helping matters either, since AC/DC’s guitar sound is about as clean as it gets and deciding to pile loads of distortion on top of everything doesn’t help matters. Kudos for them trying to make a depiction of what actual hell might sound like, but the fact that they made something this off the mark almost feels more like a troll than an actual cover.
‘Sun Arise’ – Alice Cooper
Most people don’t necessarily get it right on their first album, and Alice Cooper really had to work before becoming the most hated man in rock and roll.
By the time the band hooked up with Bob Ezrin on Love it to Death, they had turned into the one act that no parent wanted to find their child listening to, with songs like ‘I’m Eighteen’ becoming staples of hard rock. So naturally, they’d end this album with…one of the most off-brand cover songs in history. While it might not be out of the question for Alice to make a warped version of a children’s song, their version of ‘Sun Arise’ misses the mark entirely
Coming off of the spectacle of ‘The Ballad of Dwight Fry,’ the entire track just feels like a cheeky joke that the guys thought would be a good idea, only for it to sound almost whiny coming out of Alice’s mouth. Though the song is meant to be the kind of happy go lucky song and Alice is trying to bring a more morbid touch to the whole thing, his nasal delivery of the main hook gets grating real quick, which isn’t helped by the fact that the song is nearly 4 minutes long.
More than anything, this is more a case of bad placement on the album, pulling you out of the album’s chaos and into a novelty track. There’s a certain sheen that’s put on Alice’s earlier material, but if you took this song out of the mix and had ‘Dwight Fry’ close the album, you probably won’t find too many people complaining.
‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’ – Poison
There was always a certain element of camp that went with almost any hair metal band.
Even though there might be some danger to a band like Motley Crue, you couldn’t really take them seriously when they were donning makeup and singing songs like ‘Home Sweet Home’ to the girls in the front row. There was never that much danger when it comes to Poison though, and their cover song game got a little too campy during the back half of their second album.
Right after coming off of songs like ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn,’ the glam rockers’ take on Loggins and Messina’s ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’ just feels wrong, almost like some joke recording that somehow made it onto the record. While the band had been known to dive into the ‘70s pop rock pool on their first record with Jim Croce’s ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,’ that one at least made sense as a sort of rocked up version of a song that already had a badass streak to it.
Instead of the bar fight that happens in the Croce classic though, this is just the kind of cheap party song that sounds super tacky when paired with CC Deville’s guitar, almost like the band is trying to turn their entire glam aesthetic into the kind of variety special schlock that the ‘70s wishes it could forget.
Even when the band tried to go back to their roots for the covers album Poison’d back in the ‘00s, they probably knew better than to include this song when they were trying on the likes of David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. This might just seem like a bad idea, but you know you’ve crossed a line when your metal version of ‘SexyBack’ is better than this.