What does that song mean?

Yet Another List of Bad Song Covers

Posted Feb 28th, 12:52 by Penguin Pete

It’s time again to shame the re-made unremarkable. As Hollywood seems stuck in a perpetual cycle of remakes of reboots of sequels of remakes, so musicians spend a surprising chunk of their time re-performing each others’ work. Which makes sense; song-writing takes time, you know! In between penning out lyrics, sometimes it helps blow out the creative cobwebs if you jam out a song pre-written for you.

And let’s face it, nobody is arguing that covered songs don’t add value. We have a whole post on interesting Rihanna remixes alone, and another list of better covered songs besides.

Are all these song covers in the following list objectively “bad”? Sure they are to people with taste (ha!) but just to double-check, each of these have drawn some criticism that appears to be congruent with my own inherent biases. And awaaaaaay we go!

Hillary Duff “Reach Out” (cover of Depeche Mode “Personal Jesus”)

Granted, Hillary Duff (former Disney kid in her turn as “Lizzie McGuire”) did this 2008 hot dance club single with the full blessing of Depeche Mode. But – what is it about Disney kids? Duff decided to go the hardcore S&m route with this video, sexing up the original moody meditation on the nature of deep love several trashy notches. So much so that the video raised a scandal in 2008, but besides that we have Duff’s Harley Quinn voice over an R&B hip-hop style that just doesn’t fit into Depeche Mode cover songs as well as it does by a smutty Twilight fanfiction.

Puddle of Mudd “About a Girl” (cover of Nirvana)

We have to include this one by popular demand. Lead vocalist Wes Scantlin (we swear, this man can actually sing) shreds his vocal cords to bloody strings in this viral Instagram video. In 2019, this video of a stage performance of Nirvana’s “About a Girl” went viral with reaction videos and remixes. OK, granted, the man has since endured a few moments of scandal including lip-synching – so perhaps it’s time we accepted that Wes might be nearing retirement time.

Machine Gun Kelly “Aerials” (cover of System of a Down)

Here’s the thing with this cover: They did it on the Howard Stern show, by request, and apparently didn’t have their heart in this to begin with. But of all the songs to pick, why a System of a Down song? MGK just does not have the vocal power or affect to do much for this song except shift it down a grade. At times he even sounds like he has a speech impediment. So yeah, maybe stick to covering softer rock, hey, Tweety?

Goo Goo Dolls and Limp Bizkit “Wish You Were Here” (cover of Pink Floyd)

Granted, Pink Floyd’s music, especially with their experimental production standards, is a band that’s open to lots of interpretation. But wait till you’ve heard “Wish You Were Here” sounding like you wish they weren’t here, wanted everyone to go home, in fact. Fred sings the lyrics with all the enthusiasm of a tax audit, while the band strums competently behind him, but the Goo Goo Dolls’ star was already fading. Now add to that, this was a post 9/11 performance, which explains the funeral dirge mood, but then why pick one of Pink Floyd’s few hopeful songs?

Celine Dion and Anastacia “You Shook Me All Night Long” (cover of AC/DC)

Give her this much, Celine Dion has a sense of humor about it and her leg kick / air guitar bit earns its applause. Then Anastacia comes out and I just know in my soul that this was more her idea. Fine, they do a bang-up job of converting “You Shook Me All Night Long” into a wine mom song. But wait a minute, who asked for that? WHAT are you doing to AC/DC? What did they do to deserve this? As cover songs go, this one qualifies as “just stay in your lane.”

Dishonorable Mention: Every Movie Trailer Cover of “Mad World” (Tears For Fears song)

Don’t. Just don’t.




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