Cover songs that missed the spirit of the originals?

Inspired by the numerous threads we’ve had about great cover songs, but going the other direction.

What cover song do you think missed the mark the most? I’m not looking for worst versions. But covers that just missed the point.

My contribution is the classic Kiss song Rock N Roll All Night. It’s a great song (albeit still overplayed), and it has infectious energy. I’m physically unable to keep my toe from tapping, or my fingers from drumming. It’s a great song for what it is.

In the 80s, it got remade by Poison for the “Less than Zero” soundtrack. Little more glam than the original, but still decent. Still rocks, and the energy’s diminished, but you can still here it trying to escape.

Fast forward to 1994, and the very same song was covered by Toad the Wet Sprocket.

I’m not calling the TtWS version bad, per se. But it’s so vastly different from the original that there’s no drive to it. There’s no energy. It’s completely stripped of all of the power that made the original so great, and the Poison version at least decent.

It’s like a neutered version of a rock song. Like finding a Kidz Bop version of “You Oughta Know” or something.

So…any others you can think of?

Not sure how you mangled those links, but I reported it for you.

Thanks. I should know better than to try to link on tapatalk

The most lifeless cover ever recorded was Lenny Kravitz’ American Woman. He took the edge right out of that song, and released a piece of sanitized puffery that got him paid. There is no aspect of that song that he didn’t shittify.

Club mix of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”. Jonas Blue, I think. Just So Wrong on every level. “Fast Car” should in no way be a boppy upbeat “club” song.

Fixed the links. You had round (parentheses), not square [brackets].

Madonna’s version of American Pie is a dreadful, dreadful trainwreck.

Jonathan Coulton’s cover of Baby Got Back didn’t miss the spirit of the original, but it subverts it completely.

Same with Nicki French’s cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart. And just about any dance club version of just about any song. Technically competent, but artistically soulless.

The funniest incidence of this was one of the club remixes of I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred, the original of which suddenly ends with the line “I’m too sexy for this song.” The remix in question continues the song repeating “I’m too sexy for this song, too sexy for this song…” :smack:

Several years ago some young putzes call The Ataris did a cover of Don Henley’s * Boys of Summer*. Holy cow, what a void. It sounds like they’re playing all the correct notes and beyond that, there’s nothing right about it. I don’t know what annoys me more; their stupid name or the line “out on the road today I saw a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac”. Yeah, like they’re old enough (or cool enough)to reminisce about Black Flag.

Mary J. Blige’s cover of One makes me want to slap her.

Just about all of Big Daddy’s ouvre completely redefines the songs covered, generally as some sort of doo-wop piece (and often in direct imitation of some 1950s song). But my overall favorite is their re-interpretation of Celine Dion’s ethereal My Heart Will go On from the movie Titanic as a bouncy, upbeat Elvis Presley number with backup singers.

“I’m A Believer” by Smash Mouth was mentioned in the other thread, and I would respectfully disagree and cite it as an example for this thread.

The original is gritty and earnest. I don’t know much about Smash Mouth beyond their hit songs. It strikes me that a common denominator of those hits is they seem to employ quite a bit of ironic sarcasm and maybe it’s not a coincidence any feeling I might detect in their cover sounds artificial to me. Their cover sounds emblematic of the overproduction a lot of 21st century popular music features, take the little guitar lick that precedes the first and second verse and notice the difference.

A group called Rosebud did a disco version of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar..” If the mere description isn’t enough to curl your toes, the version changed the deeply cynical condemnation of the music business into an upbeat song about becoming a big star.

Every cover of Memory that sings it like a dirge. It is not a funeral song, it is a reflective song.

Recently, Weezer did a totally lifeless remake of Toto’s “Africa.” If you’re going to do a remake, at least make an effort to add something to it.

While not a cover, as it done by the same artist, Clapton’s acoustic version of Layla takes one of the most passionate, achingly beautiful songs in modern music and turns it into some guitar noodling you would do sitting on the back porch after dinner. Tragic.

Great cover!

In the same spirit, Scissor Sisters cover of Comfortably Numb:

I love this cover.

Maybe he captured some of the spirit, but John Cougar Mellencamp’s cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night” missed the entire meaning of the line “…and the inside jukebox blows out just like thunder” by singing…“and inside the jukebox…”.

Completely ruins it for me.

The cover by Pearl Jam of “Last Kiss” completely misses the point of the song. It’s sung as a sad song, an unhappy point in the life of the boyfriend who crashed the car and killed his new girlfriend. But the original by J. Frank Wilson (& the Cavaliers) was an upbeat song. That almost makes no sense, until you realize that he’s not singing it during the period of mourning after she dies, but rather later, when he realizes that now he has something to live for: the ability to go to Heaven in the end and see her again. “She’s gone to Heaven, so I gotta be good, so I can see my baby when I leave (uh) this world!”

Oh, and an easy nominee here is the recent cover of “Sound of Silence” by Disturbed. It’s a good performance, fun to sing to, but it totally misses the point of the song.