It’s Friday and I’ve had a very annoying week. It started with me struggling to fend off the latest virus and continued with freezing weather, technical difficulties, and lots of griping from the peanut gallery. Since it’s Friday and I’m in need of a good laugh, I figure today’s blog post should be about something relatively amusing. And to me, horrible cover versions of famous songs can be very funny. There have been a lot of them over the years. I don’t know what possesses some singers to take on songs that are inappropriate for their singing style. I would expect that during a karaoke show, but not so much by established musicians trying to make a living.

“American Pie”

The first song that immediately comes to mind is “American Pie”, which was written and made famous by Don McLean. It’s a song about the 1959 plane crash that killed Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and the Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson). Some people consider this song to be a masterpiece. Apparently, a lot of rock stars admire it, too; for it’s been covered by several. Madonna tried to sing it in 2000 and some people supposedly liked it.

Madonna’s “American Pie”

I don’t really care too much for Madge’s take on Don McLean’s classic song. But at least it’s not as bad as the one done by the Brady Bunch Kids.

The Brady Kids do “American Pie”.

I think this version pretty much hacks “American Pie” into a lot of little messy pieces. They could have used a little more vocal augmentation or something. It’s dreadful. Maybe I should cut them a little slack, though. The Brady kids were, after all, actors. I’m sure 1970s era recording techniques were primitive compared to what we have today.

“Day Tripper” and “Eight Days A Week”

The next song that comes to mind is one originally done by The Beatles. The Beatles are pretty much revered as a band that helped shape rock and roll into what it is today. John, Paul, George, and Ringo will forever be immortalized as rock gods; they wrote and performed some amazing songs. What rock star in their right mind wouldn’t want to emulate them? Even James Taylor, who is one of my FAVORITE performers of all time, took a stab at it with this unfortunate cover of “Day Tripper”.

James Taylor’s “Day Tripper”

Okay, so I can give James a little break for the fact that this particular version of “Day Tripper” was released in 1979, near the height of the disco craze. And I will even admit that there was a time when I actually enjoyed this version. Indeed, even today, it’s sort of a guilty pleasure. It’s got a certain little spunk to it and James Taylor could sing the phone book and I would probably enjoy it. But disco and JT… maybe not the best choice for optimal listening. I like it better when James Taylor sings his own songs.

James Taylor is not the only one to try singing Beatles songs, though. Back in 1989, country singer Lorrie Morgan also gave it the old college try with her version of “Eight Days A Week”.

Lorrie Morgan’s take on “Eight Days A Week”.

This particular countrified version of “Eight Days A Week” is bouncy enough, with fiddles and even a lead guitar solo by Vince Gill. But I think it really pales against the original.

“Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird”


This cover is like a souvenir of all the nightmares I lived in the late 1980s…

Will To Power sing their mashed up medley of songs by Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

In 1988, a band called “Will To Power” covered two monster rock songs, turning them into an insipid, bloodless, ghastly medley unimaginatively called “Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird”. This brings back unwelcome memories of high school. Please, make it stop!

“Ring of Fire”

Johnny Cash was no stranger to singing cover songs. In 2003, just months before he died, Cash sang Trent Reznor’s “Hurt” and did a fine job with it. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Olivia Newton-John’s rendition of Cash’s famous hit “Ring Of Fire”, which was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore.

Olivia Newton-John’s try at “Ring of Fire”

The only reason I know about this version of “Ring of Fire” is because my dad was a big Olivia Newton-John fan in the 1970s and he had Olivia’s 1977 album Making A Good Thing Better on 8-track. I was five years old at the time and thought Olivia was pretty. Now that I’m a lot older, I can’t quite reconcile the high stepping prancing quality of Olivia’s cover of “Ring of Fire” to Johnny Cash’s big hit.

“Have You Never Been Mellow”

Olivia Newton-John got her just desserts for trashing “Ring of Fire” when Party Animals covered her hit song, “Have You Never Been Mellow”.

“Have You Never Been Mellow” techno style

Actually, I’ve heard quite a few techno versions of this song, none of which were particularly good.

“Stairway to Heaven”

“Stairway to Heaven” could probably be crowned Led Zeppelin’s masterpiece. If it’s not their best known song, it’s definitely one of their best loved rock anthems. And it’s so good, it’s even been covered by… Dolly Parton?

Dolly Parton’s rendition of “Stairway to Heaven”

Fair disclosure here. I actually like what Dolly did with this song; she even added some original lyrics and a little bluegrass styled jam at the end. However, as a Led Zeppelin fan, I also recognize that a lot of people probably think this cover is horrible. I don’t think it’s near as horrible as it could have been. At least Dolly didn’t turn it into disco.


Since Dolly Parton is also quite the songwriter, her songs have also been butchered by other singers.  Her song “Jolene” has been redone more times than I can count.  I’ve heard it been turned into everything from bluegrass to techno.  In 1976, Olivia Newton-John gave it her best shot…

“Jolene” by Olivia Newton-John

This is a live performance, slightly faster than the recorded version. Olivia has vocal chops, but this version has strings (or synthesized strings on this live version) and Olivia introduces it with a fake southern accent. At the end, she looks like she’s in the throes of an orgasm as she shrieks about that hussy, Jolene. It makes me miss Dolly Parton something fierce.

“Candle In The Wind”

I love Kate Bush’s music.  I love her idiosyncratic voice, her expressive piano playing, and her exquisite lyrics.  But I don’t love what she did to Elton John’s epic hit, “Candle In The Wind”.

Kate Bush sings “Candle In The Wind”… please someone blow it out!

Granted, there is something kind of haunting about Kate’s vocals on this track, but I still miss Elton John’s appreciative vocals.  I don’t think she quite captured his admiration for Marilyn Monroe’s star power.  Kate Bush sounds very sterile to me, which kind of negates the whole tribute aspect of this song.

I could probably go on writing about horrible cover songs all day, but it looks like it’s fixing to snow and that would just cap off my week.  So I leave you with one last horrible cover…

“Paradise City”

Pat Boone must have got quite the hair up his ass back in 1997, when he released an entire album full of of heavy metal cover songs.  He had brass balls to cover a Guns N’ Roses song, especially “Paradise City”.

Pat Boone tries “Paradise City”.

I’m not sure if he meant this to be taken seriously or not. Actually, I think a jazzy version of “Paradise City” doesn’t suck as much as it could. Maybe if Michael Buble had tried this, it would have worked better. I wonder if Axl Rose has heard what Pat Boone did with the song he made famous. If he has, I’m sure there were many spicy sentence enhancers used to describe it.

Have a nice weekend, y’all!