No matter how many times we contruct these lists, no matter how many times we talk about it in the pub- there is one constant- the worst cover version of all time remains Ronan Keating and his bizarre take on the Pogues classic, Fairy Tale Of New York.
Now, there is nothing wrong with boy bands who understand their place in the scheme of thing, some of the lesser known members of Take That are really cool guys. They know where they are in pop . Entertainers. And that’s a cool thing.
Ronan always thought he was a cut above that and really came a cropper here when he took the dark, brooding Pogues classic and turned into boring pop mulch which drained all the feeling, intensity, colour and story telling genius out of the original. To add insult to injury, ‘nice guy’ RonanÂ changed the song line Â âcheap lousy faggotâ to âyouâre cheap and youâre haggardâ.
2. Avril Lavigne – “Imagine”
Here is the formulae. Get a pop puppet and get them to sing a dusty old classic. It’s a trick X factor do over and over. The so called ‘princess of punk’ missed the chance of turning the Lennon classic inside out and asking questions about those hypocritical lyrics and just made the song even more mawkish. Being a ‘punk’ she could could have given the song a really good kicking but maybe she was not as ‘punk’ on the day of recording…
3. Paul Young ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’
Ian Curtis’s virtual signing off note was a song full of tragedy and dark romance- a song of sadness and not being able to cope. Paul Young sounded like he knew nothing of this and missed the whole point of it. Radio One DJ’s used to always fawn over the singer claiming him to be the greatest voice they had heard- we were not sure if they really were experts then- we certainly know that now.
4. William Shatner – ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’
Ho ho ho, ha ha ha…irony overload….hang on a minute this is actually deadly serious.Â William Shatner is mssing the whole tripped out background of the Beatles classic for his Â “The Transformed Man” album. He replaces the acid tinged genuine weirdness of the original with some Shakespearean style bombastic over acting on the verses that is, frankly, laughable.
Â 5. Madonna ‘American Pie’
The origonal is really annoying- one of those standards that school teachers used to tell you had the best lyrics ever in the history pop. If only Madonna had turned in a great bubblegum pop version of the song but by this time her career she wanted to get taken seriously which is always a crime in the pop world. With ‘proper singing’ it sounds like Madge trying to get taken seriously by covering a heavyweight song- as horrible as it sounds.
6. Annie Lennox ‘Shining Light’
There is something odd about Annie Lennox-she sells millions of records, yet you never meet anyone who likes her. OK, Sweet Dreams was a good song but that bizarre attempt to turn her into a style icon a couple of years ago was a cringe. The claim was she had invented women wearing suits and orange spiky hair in the early eighties about 5 years after everyone else was bizarre PR guff.
This cover of the Ash song sounds really bizarre, whose idea was this?
7. Duran Duran ‘911 Is Â A Joke’
Sometimes bands,when they get together, have a jokey jam- maybe a very unlikely cover- you know let’s do something so not us that it’s quite funny. Very occasionally one of these bands will release the results. Duran Duran must have been high on an ego cloud when they decided to release this murder of the Public Enemy classic. This does not work on any level at all apart from maybe giving Chuck D a big royalty cheque.
8. Susan Boyle ‘Wild Horses’
This is so mental it could have almost worked.
Of course it didn’t.
Simon Cowell’s mission to turn all great music into a standing joke continues. The man who wrecked the charts discovered Susan Boyle who then tried to destroy the Stones classic song of yearning, turing into something a trifle odd. Odd in a bad way.
9. Mick jagger/David Bowie ‘Dancing In The Street’
One of those songs that seemed to be number one for ever was less cursed by being bad cover version- it was, of course not Â a patch on the original but it was more the video that terrified everyone. How had two rock stars with such an amassed canyon of cool managed to humiliate themselves in three minutes was beyond any understanding. Dad dancing.
10. Celine Dion ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’
AC/DC have the second best selling album of all time. That makes them real pop. Real pop like Michael Jackson. That is pop as in popular. God knows why they allowed this cover to happen. Celine Dion has all the charisma of Â spotted plant and the emotional singing power of a goldfish and turns the grinding raunch of Â AC/DC into a sexless plod.