Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

The best and worst cover versions of all time

Which are the best and worst cover versions of all time? Jimi Hendrix doing ‘All Along the Watchtower’? Madonna’s version of ‘America Pie’? We've made our selection but let us know what you think by scrolling down to the comment section below.

BEST COVER VERSIONS





1. Jeff Buckley,



Hallelujah 1994 (Leonard Cohen 1984)



He took Leonard Cohen’s underwhelming half-spoken version into the heart-wrenching timeless classic we all know.





2. Jimi Hendrix



All Along the Watchtower 1968 (Bob Dylan, 1967)



Hendrix turned the easy listening ballad into a technically brilliant rock classic with that legendary guitar solo.





3. Sinead O’Connor



Nothing Compares 2 U 1990 (Prince 1981)



This heart-breaking version of Prince’s song broke the Irish singer into the mainstream in 1990 and remains to this day her most famous hit.





4. Ryan Adams



Wonderwall 2001 (Oasis 1995)



Master of the heartbreak song, Ryan Adams takes the Britpop hit it to a deeper level with his haunting, emotive acoustic version. Noel Gallagher likes the American country star’s arrangement so much he’s performed it in concert.





5. The Futureheads



Hounds Of Love 2004 (Kate Bush 1985)



If I say this is better than the original I’ll be hunted down by outraged Kate Bush fans. It’s different, in a good way, the high energy and faster pace bringing the catchy melody to the fore.





6 Johnny Cash



Hurt, 2002 (Nine Inch Nails, 1994)



So simple, but so desolate. Cash’s world weary voice spells out suffering; more hauntingly effective than the overloaded tortured original.





7. Vampire Weekend



Everywhere, 2008 (Fleetwood Mac 1988)



These Brooklyn exports strip back and inject a little minimal Afrobeat-cool into the Fleetwood Mac hit for the lucky few who have caught it live – it’s not yet been recorded.





8. Saint Etienne



Only Love Can Break Your Heart, 1990 (Neil Young 1970)



The best covers completely rework the original and this one is no exception – you couldn’t get much more different to the Neil Young original off After The Gold Rush than this dance gem.





9. Soft Cell



Tainted Love 1981 (Gloria Jones 1964)



Another case of the cover making the original popular. Marc Almond’s tense vocals over a slick staccato synth backing transformed Gloria Jones’ punchy soul original.





10. The Byrds



Mr Tambourine Man, 1965 (Bob Dylan 1964)



Layered harmonies transcend this ballad into pure folk pop loveliness.







WORST COVER VERSIONS





1. Madonna



American Pie, 2000 (Don McLean 1971)



Is it the monotony of the Queen of pop’s sickly-sweet and curiously one-dimensional vocals or the cringeworthy synth backing that makes this so unlistenable?





2. Joss Stone



Fell In Love With a Boy 2003 (Fell in Love with a Girl, White Stripes 2001)



Limp and slouchy; this pseudo-jazz pop version is everything the White Stripes’ infectious high energy rousing song isn’t.





3. Tatu



How Soon Is Now? 2002 (The Smiths 1984)



The teenage Russian lesbians’ take on The Smiths’ greatest strips all the soul and pathos, replacing it with their best Alvin, Simon and Theodore impression. Ghastly.





4. Duran Duran



911 Is A Joke, 1995 (Public Enemy, 1990)



How can Simon Le Bon sing about getting shot and the police being slow on the case due to him being black?





5. William Shatner



Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (The Beatles 1967)



OK, a comedy one, from the actor who insists it was from the perspective of an LSD user. Widely regarded as the worst cover ever, and proud of it.





6. Avril Lavigne



Knockin' on Heaven's Door 2003 (Bob Dylan, 1973)



Though she does what she does well, when she applies the “oooos” and “yeah yeah yeahs” and her simplistic clean guitar chords to Bob Dylan’s soulful country classic, all hell breaks loose. At least the Guns n Roses offering had passion.





7. Will Young



Light My Fire 2002 (The Doors 1967)



When he performed it as the winner of Pop Idol’s first series, the warbling Will Young took The Doors’ classic straight to the top of the chart.





8. Atrocity



The Sun Always Shines on TV, 2008 (A-Ha 1985)



You’ve got to watch the video to fully appreciate how bad this really is. It’s not until the metal thrashed-out chorus that you realise they’re not joking.





9. Ronan Keating



Fairytale in New York (The Pogues 1987)



A pointless cover, with Kirsty MacColl's part sung by Maire Brennan.





10. Marilyn Manson



Personal Jesus, 2004 (Depeche Mode, 1989)



It adds nothing to the original hit except Manson’s growling.

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