The 11 Worst Covers of 80s Songs
Rock of Ages will no doubt butcher the neon decade’s entire back catalog, but it won’t be the first time.
This summer an all-star cast (well, Tom Cruise and the beautiful Malin Akerman) will take a tourist-friendly, fast food Broadway musical and turn it into a movie — subjecting you to lip-synched versions of bad cover songs in the process. About the best thing you can say in the movie’s defense is that….well, they aren’t the first to manhandle the hits of the 80s…
11. Alien Ant Farm, “Smooth Criminal”
Not only does replacing the original’s Michael Jackson dance beat with a generic pop-punk rhythm make the song just sound like the words “Annie are you OK?” repeated on an infinite, sped-up loop, but the video tries to convince us that three chubby SoCal homeboys backed-up by a seven year-old asthmatic dancer qualifies as an “awesome” party.
10. Orgy, “Blue Monday”
In the 80s, New Order took the disco beats of the previous decade and melded and reimagined them into the sound that would eventually define New Wave. In 1998, a band called Orgy said, “That’s great and all, but can we add a heaping dose of androgynous techno drag queen cyborg on an ecstasy binge? Great. Thanks!”
9. Big & Rich, “You Shook Me All Night Long”
It’s unforgivable to take a growling pure rock anthem that AC/DC recorded for the sole purpose of proving that Marshall speakers could actually blow panties off and reduce it to something you’d hear in the waiting room of a dentist’s office in Appalachia…if such things existed.
8. Traci Lords, “Walking in L.A.”
The original (by Missing Persons) would hardly be considered a musical high point for anyone (even Missing Persons), but it had that kind of bouncy, plastic rhythm that fit the decade to a T. Lords’ version, recorded during her “maybe a musical career will make people forget that I was an underage porn star” period basically slowed the tempo to a non-existent crawl and redid the original’s high-pitched singing with a breathy, talk-sing that would definitively answer that whole “will people forget my porn past” question. (No.)
7. Ataris, “Boys of Summer”
“Out on the road today/I saw a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac.” Aaaaaaaaand…we’re done here.
6. Sheryl Crow, “Sweet Child O’Mine”
When Guns ‘N Roses recorded this song, it was a rare glimpse into the sensitive side of the L.A. bad boys. When Crow recorded it, it sounded like it was a hackey-sack, a quad and an R.A-approved bonfire away from being the homecoming warm-up act at a woman’s college in Vermont.
5. Mariah Carey, “Bringing On the Heartbreak”
Removing every ounce of “power” out of this power ballad, Mariah delivered the aural equivalent of an unsalted rice cake. This song is so impossibly boring and nondescript, we suspect she recorded it just to make Nick Cannon feel better about himself.
4. Marilyn Manson, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”
We understand that every song in the 90s had to basically be the opening credit sequence of “Se7en,” but this dirge-like take on the Eurythmics’s hit takes four minutes to essentially say, “Hey, Tim Burton, here’s the only trailer song you’ll ever need for all of eternity.” But what can you expect from a musician whose entire career can be summed up by “Boo!”
3. Britney Spears, “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”
When Joan Jett recorded “I Love Rock ‘N Roll,” it was a defiant act from a woman who said, “Forget The Runaways – I’m not just some dolled-up pop tart. I can rawk harder than any dude. Eff all y’all.” Years and years later, Britney Spears recorded the song to say, “I’m blonde and I don’t own shirts. Giggle.”
2. Limp Bizkit, “Faith”
If we wanted an angry, bald, fat guy to shout the lyrics of George Michael songs in our face, we’d spend more time in the truck stop restrooms frequented by George Michael. Plus, the embarrassment felt by girls who once thought they’d have a shot with George is nothing compared to the embarrassment felt by girls who actually did get a shot with Fred Durst.
1. Kelly Osbourne, “Papa Don’t Preach”
Kelly is a pouting talenthole who shames the legacy of her father, a man for whom Satanism once represented a mellower lifestyle. But this? The girl in Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” was working up the courage to tell her father about her teenage pregnancy. The girl in Osbourne’s version? She’s going to spend all of her allowance money at Hot Topic and there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT, OLD MAN!