Rolling Stone Readers Choose the Worst Cover Songs of All Time
Nothing is more painful to listen to than a terrible cover song. Take that Limp Bizkit cover of The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes." Not only is it terrible even by the standards of Limp Bizkit, but it makes it hard to ever hear the original again. Halle Berry appeared in the video, right around the time she agreed to star in that Catwoman movie. Look what happened to her career after that. Anyway, here are your selections for the worst cover songs of all-time. Brace yourselves.
10. William Shatner – “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”
William Shatner's 1967 debut LP The Transformed Man is perhaps the most mocked album in the history of recorded music. Released at the height of the psychedelic movement, the album mixes famous poems and Shakespeare works with pop music – all delivered with Shatner's signature overly-dramatic speaking voice. It's more bizarre than it sounds. Shatner claims he recorded "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" in the voice of somebody tripping on LSD. Nobody has ever tripped that bad.
9. Jessica Simpson – “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”
For an extremely brief period in the mid-2000s, Jessica Simpson was sort of a movie star. Her most famous role is Daisy Duke in the Dukes of Hazzard movie. Willie Nelson, Stifler and Johnny Knoxville all acted circles around her, the movie bombed and pretty soon she was making straight-to-DVD dreck like Private Valentine: Blonde & Dangerous. Anyway, she recorded Nancy Sinatra's 1966 classic "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" for the Dukes soundtrack. She looks great in the Brett Ratner-directed video and purred like Britney Spears throughout the song, but even a Willie Nelson vocal cameo couldn't make the track anything but an embarrassment.
8. Avril Lavigne – “Imagine”
There's no doubting the fact that Avril Lavigne had only good intentions when she covered John Lennon's "Imagine" in 2007 for a tribute album that aided Darfur. She can't be faulted for that. But her version sounds like it came from a karaoke night somewhere in Ontario, and the video looks like a 1990s commercial for blue jeans. The whole thing really, really doesn't work.
7. Britney Spears – “I Love Rock & Roll”
Much like Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears butchered a pop classic on the soundtrack to a movie that permanently ended her film career. She went with "I Love Rock & Roll" on her one and only movie Crossroads. It was written by The Arrows and made famous by Joan Jett – or "Pat Benatar," as Spears famously called her when promoting the single. People are too hard on Britney. She was close enough.
6. Alien Ant Farm – “Smooth Criminal”
If you were a completely unknown pop-punk band in 2001 and you wanted some mainstream attention, your best bet was to record a goofy cover of a famous 1980s hit. Alien Ant Farm went with Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." It was their one and only hit, though I know one day they're going to come back and do "Beat It" or "Dirty Diana" and prove to everybody that they aren't a one trick pony. These guys are just getting started.
5. Britney Spears – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
It's hard to think of a way to piss off rock and roll purists more than Britney Spears covering The Rolling Stones – though Mick Jagger himself is on record saying that he really liked it. Her most famous performance of the song came at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards when she played it in a man's suit, before ripping off her clothes for "Oops…I Did It Again." Anybody who was a teenage boy circa 2000 remembers the moment very well.
4. Sheryl Crow – “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
Big Daddy isn't one of Adam Sandler's most well-remembered movies. It isn't a classic like Billy Madison or Airheads, and it isn't despised like Little Nicky. It's somewhere in the middle, in the same ballpark as Mr. Deeds. Sheryl Crow recorded a cover of "Sweet Child O' Mine" for the soundtrack and rock fans really, really hated it. Axl has never commented on it, but he probably hates it too. He's a hard man to please.
3. Madonna – “American Pie”
Madonna got the new millennium off to a rather shitty start. In March of 2000 she recorded a cover of "American Pie" for the soundtrack to her romantic comedy The Next Best Thing. It's hard to say what critics hated worse: the movie or the song. She removed about half the verses to the song and what remained was really flat and lifeless. Later that year she released Music and we all forgave her. Thankfully, she hasn't gone anywhere near the Don McLean catalog recently.
2. Limp Bizkit – “Behind Blue Eyes”
God, where to even start with this piece of shit? I guess I should start back in 1997 when Limp Bizkit's career took off with their cover of George Michael's "Faith." Things were looking pretty grim for the Bizkit in 2003, so they decided to cover another iconic song. They went with The Who's 1971 classic "Behind Blue Eyes." They somehow roped Halle Berry into appearing in the video, possibly using actual rope. It's hard to imagine why else she thought it was a good idea. Just when you think the video couldn't get any worse, Fred Durst and Halle Berry have a really gross make-out session while a Speak N Spell spells out Limp Bizkit. It's one of the worst moments in the history of anything.
1. Miley Cyrus – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
"I want to play a song by one of the artists that inspired me," Miley Cyrus says before playing her infamous version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" earlier this year. "Without them I wouldn't be here. They are the ones who gave me the strength and courage to do this. I hope I can be that person for you guys." Miley was born over a year after Nevermind came out and it's hard to imagine just exactly how Nirvana inspired her to audition for Hannah Montana or record any of her songs, but those are her words. When she started singing this on tour earlier this year her popularity had dramatically plunged in America, and when the videos started hitting YouTube the comments were just vicious. Fairly or not, it seemed to embody everything that people dislike about her.