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7 Pop Music Remakes That Never Should’ve Happened

Bon Jovi’s “Prayer ’94,” Vanilla Ice’s “Too Cold” and other updates that no one asked for

7 Pop Music Remakes that Never Should've Happened

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It’s easy to guess what might motivate an artist to create an entirely new version of a hit song, often many years later. Maybe they didn’t feel like they got it right the first time. Maybe, like Def Leppard, it’s about sticking it to your publishing company. But nine times out of 10, these re-creations smell like desperate grabs at past glory. It’s a seemingly surefire plan, right? Just take the thing that people loved the first time around and do it again, maybe even giving it a bit of a modern update.

Canadian reggae-rapper Snow surely knows what it’s
like to watch fame slip away. He had just one hit, but it was a doozy: “Informer”
spent weeks atop the charts in 1993, and 12 Inches of Snow, his debut
album, sold millions of copies worldwide. A quarter century and a handful of
not-as-successful (to put it mildly) albums later, Snow just dropped “Informer
2018,” a thoroughly unnecessary update that swaps out the original’s
loping hip-hop beat for something slightly more modern, and removes the guest
verse from MC Shan that originally ended the song. He’s just the latest onetime
hitmaker to reach into the past and rewrite history, but who ended up just
scribbling some new notes on pages that would have been better left alone. In
his honor, here are seven more songs that were unnecessarily and/or poorly
remade by the original artists.

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Vanilla Ice, “Too Cold”

Vanilla Ice guilelessly claimed his realness from the beginning, even as his image and music identified a bandwagoneer and cultural appropriator of the most extreme variety. That didn’t stop “Ice Ice Baby” from being the first-ever hip-hop song to top the Billboard pop charts, or stop Vanilla Ice from achieving cultural omnipresence before a quick descent into punchline status. In 1998, he tried to hop aboard the rap-rock train with Hard to Swallow, an album that was savaged by critics and ignored by the public. That’s a shame, because at least one track could’ve provided some schadenfreude or comic relief: “Ice Ice Baby” was remade under the name “Too Cold,” and it basically sounds like Korn on a bad day. All of the original lyrics remain intact through the generic riffs and beats, though Ice does add the line, “Throw your hands in the air/Let me know you’re out there.” You can imagine the empty arena looking back at him.

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Violent Femmes, “Blister 2000”

The first few seconds of the first song on the first Violent Femmes album is still the most famous and memorable thing the band has ever done, which is surely a little bit frustrating. But for the remake of 1983’s “Blister in the Sun” – made at John Cusack’s behest for the movie Grosse Point Blank, but not actually used in the movie – the trio chose to recreate the song’s iconic guitar intro with a saxophone. That’s not the only place that “Blister 2000” stumbles. It also slows the tempo significantly, adds some unnecessary strings, and makes room for a skronky sax solo where an acoustic guitar and spare drum set once stood. It’s the same guys playing the same song, yet inferior in pretty much every way. No wonder the Grosse Point soundtrack included both versions.

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