Best and worst cover songs.

Best and worst cover songs.


I read somewhere people stopped appreciating new music at some point in their late twenties.  Since hearing this I’ve been proud of the fact my thirst and passion for new tunes has yet to be extinguished.  Music, to me, is the great communicator.  It is a language echoing messages across different languages, religions, ethnicity, and levels of understanding.  It has the power to bring friends and families together or comforting the listener when you’re all alone.  It is a time machine transporting appreciators across decades of memories in seconds like a Delorian streaking across the sky.  I started seriously listening to music later than most, my senior year of high school.  Up until then my CD collection consisted of Scott and Todd phone scams, movie soundtracks, and a few Aerosmith albums I picked up to impress a girl I had a crush on Sophomore year (it didn’t work).  My love for the medium was galvanized in college when I was introduced to punk, heavy metal, and ska by two gentlemen I am blessed to call friends today- Mark and Nik (not a typo). Many of my weekends were spent in a noisy club reeking of stale beer and cigarettes or peroxide because we didn’t know to use hair dye back then.

Nik is the one in red, Mark is the one in black/grey, I'm the one in blue pleased with myself after nailing another friend, Dave, in the coin purse seconds before the picture was taken.
Nik is the one in red, Mark is the one in black/grey, I’m the one in blue pleased with myself after nailing another friend, Dave, in the coin purse seconds before the picture was taken.  Guess which one is Dave?  By the way, we’ve all lost significant amounts of weight since and Dave has children, so everything worked out just fine.

I’ve been addicted to the HBO series, Sonic Highways, chronicling the Foo Fighters road trip to recording studios across the country while they are recording their new album.  The show is also a journey through history of music in each particular city in only a way a true musician can appreciate.  Each episode is like a love letter to the medium and has turned many viewers, myself included, onto songs artists and musical genres they would never have even thought of listening to prior to the show airing.  In my case I am finding myself scouring You Tube searching for songs by the Zack Brown Band, Tony Joe White, and other country artists after watching the Nashville episode of the series.  What appealed to me the most about this episode is country’s heavy reliance on cover songs throughout history.  I’ve always been a big fan of the well done cover song. I embrace a well done cover song or tribute album as not only something familiar to bop your head along to but also as an opportunity to discover a new or old artist.  During my college years it seemed every punk band had at least one cover song they would either improve or utterly destroy.  The songs that improved on their predecessor were always a special treat and a great gem.  Like that seen in High Fidelity:

Some of my favorite cover songs:

1. “And Then She Kissed Me” – Kiss

A great example of taking a song and making it your own. One of my all time favorites.

2. “Cum on Feel The Noise” – Quiet Riot

I would normally out his under guilty pleasure but it was the first heaven metal song to reach #1 and it’s chock full of 80s music video cliches.

3. “16 Tons” – The Nightwatchmen

Tom Morello best known for his work with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave brings us a surprisingly jazzy version of the song about corporate oppression. Surprised this has never been used in a tv series. Speaking of Tom Morello…

4. “Paper Planes” – the Street Sweeper Social Club

This cover I actually prefer to the original by MIA. I blast this every time my iPod shuffles to it.

5. “Your Song”- Elle Goulde

This is so well done I almost wish it was an original song. Very delicate and delicate sounding. She’s got a great voice.

6. “Common People” – William Shatner and Ben Folds

This is the song that made me like Ben Folds and respect Shatner – sorry not a Trekkie

7. Enocium – entire cd Great collection of tribute and cover songs.

My personal favorites on this are:

“Dancing Days” performed by my favorite band Stone Temple Pilots,

“Going to California” by Never The Bride,

and “Hey Hey What Can I Do” by Hootie and the Blowfish

8. “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” – Al Green

This song makes me wish I could sing.  I would sing this every freaking day!

9. “The Man Who Sold The World” – Nirvana

If you grew up in the nineties you couldn’t escape this song. It holds up and is every bit as haunting as the Bowie original.

10. “Hurt” – Johnny Cash

This video still chokes me up every time I see it. I think this was released shortly after June passed. Even though Nine Inch Nails released it, it feels like it was Cash song all along

11. “Take On Me” -Reel Big Fish

I listened to a good amount of punk and ska music in college. Every punk band had a cover song on their album. This was by far my favorite. It makes me miss ska music. Even though the video is goofy and missing the signature animation of the original, it’s just a lot of fun.

12. “Love Me Two Times” – Aerosmith

Great bluesy classic !  They also have a great cover of Come Together if you feel like searching for it.

13. “I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston

It’s a shame how she passed but when this came out I was shocked to learn its a cover of Dolly Parton. She had such a wonderful voice.

14. “Chauffeur” – Deftones

Deftones are known for their heaven guitars, pounding drums, and guttural screams but this Duran Duran classic really proves their musicianship.

15. “Cat Scratch Fever” – Pantera

I saw an interview once with Dimebag before he passed where he proclaimed Ted Nugent as a huge influence on him and Vinny Paul. The arrangement and care with this track is a meticulous testament to their admiration of the song.

16. “Desolation Row” – My Chemical Romance

I’m not a fan of My Chemical Romance and I don’t know of Bob Dylan is either but when I hear this song I don’t care lol. The official video is boring so I went with a fan made one using footage from the film The Watchmen, based on the graphic novel of the same name. This song appears on the soundtrack.

17. “Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon” – Urge Overkill

The Pulp Fiction soundtrack cemented Tarantino’s knack for mixing music with motion picture to invoke emotion, like Scorsese before him. This was the only cover on the soundtrack but a stand out track.  When I was in high school I copied the track onto a mix tape. I didn’t realize this was a cover song until the manager at the indoor amusement facility I worked for, Dimitri, borrowed the tape.

18. “Don’t Think Twice” – Mike Ness

The Social D frontman really showed off his musicianship with this classic. Exactly what you wouldn’t expect from punk, that’s why it’s so punk.

19. “Airbag” – Richard Cheese and Lounge Against The Machine

If you don’t know who Richard Cheese is you need to go to iTunes and download all his songs RIGHT NOW !!! Swankified versions of rock amd rap hits. Hilarious and well done.

20. “The Man in Black” – The Bouncing Souls

Hands down my favorite cover !!!! From the best band out of NJ!! Bon who ?? Boss of what ?? That’s right I said it !!!

Honorable Mentions:

1. “Keep Me Hangin On”

Vanilla Fudge

and Kim Wylde

I kept both versions to illustrate how the same cover from 2 different artists can have two totally different moods.

2. “Sweet Dreams” – Marilyn Manson

Turns the 80s dance song into a creepy nightmare.  


He later did a cover of “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell and “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode.

Both of which….sucked.

3. “Got The Time” – Anthrax

4. “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” – Hole

Remember the film, “Crow:Salvation” few do.  It was direct to video fodder you can’t even find in a bargain bin today.  The soundtrack, however, was fantastic and included this tune.  Hole also had a great cover of “Gold Dust Woman” on the Crow: City of Angels soundtrack, which was also great too.

5.”Come on Eileen” – Save Ferris

Monique Powell was supposed to be Gwen Stefani before we knew who Gwen Stefani was.  Campy video but great sound.

6. “Land of Confusion ” – Disturbed

Great song but apparently they tried to cover the video of Pearl Jam’s song Do The Evolution too, including hiring comic book artist/legend Todd McFarlane to design the video  but failed 🙁

Todd McFarlane with his biggest creation, Spawn.
Todd McFarlane with his biggest creation, Spawn.

7. “Holy Diver” – Kill switch Engaged

Great song. Terrible video. I’m assuming they were trying to spoof Dio’s video for Rainbow in the Dark by visiting a Midevil Times

8. “Teenager in Love” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

9. “Imagine” – Blues Traveler

10. “Don’t Stop Me Now” – The Vandals

11. “Turn The Page” – Metallica

A noticeably darker version takes on a whole different meaning than the original. I would have listed it under my best but it was overplayed.

12. “I Will Survive” – Cake

That’s right ladies, we’ve taken it back l!

13. We’re a Happy Family – A Tribute To The Ramones Entire Cd
Great Ramones covers from U2, Rob Zombie, Kiss, and Pete Yorn.  Although Red Hot Chili Peppers version of “Havana Affair” is my favorite, I’ve included Garbage’s cover of “I Just Wanna Have Something to Do”

14. “Strutter” – The Donnas

Let’s face it –

Brett Anderson of The Donnas


looks a lot better as the Star Child


Than Paul ever did

15. “Save a Prayer” – Eve’s Plumb

16. “Kick Out The Jams” – Rage Against The Machine

17. “Heroes” – The Wallflowers

Literally the only good thing about the Godzilla film from the late 90s. Jacob Dylan’s explanation of this song ruined it for me ” The Wallflowers are playing despite the city being destroyed cause that’s what we do for our fans ” yacht !!

18. “Big Hard Sun” – Eddie Vedder

19. ” Polk Salad Annie” – Elvis Presley

20. “Let Down” – Scott Weiland

21. “Thank You” – Chris Cornell

22. “Ring of Fire” – Social Distortion

23. “Tired of Waiting for You” – Green Day

24. “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” – Patti Smith

When I hear this I think of watching Dennis Miller’s show on HBO with my Dad. 🙂


25. “Summer Nights” – Less Than Jake

If you aren’t familiar the punk band put out an album titled Greased covering all songs from the Grease soundtrack. Some love it some hate it. I’m in the first category

26. “Hotel California” – Kid With Man Head

Most of you probably don’t know this one but it holds a special meaning for my friends and I. Every time I hear this I think of Freshman year at Rutgers, Nicholas Hall, E Wing and our times together.  This post is dedicated to you 🙂

Here’s a list of some to avoid like the plague at all costs

1. “Fame” -Tommy Lee

Someone told Tommy Lee he should try to sing. I hope that someone has since lost their hearing

2. “Feel Like Making Love” -Kid Rock

I love Kid Rock but this one hurts.

3. “Stayin Alive” – Ozzy Osbourne

Starts with “all aboard the disco train!!” —- I’ll take the next one

4. “Sweet Child of Mine” – Sheryl Crow

5. “Papa Don’t Preach” – Kelly Osbourne

Not even auto-tune can save it

6. “Dancing With Myself” – Blink 182

Just annoying

7. “Squeeze Box” – Poison


8. The Most Wonderful Time of Year – Entire Cd – Scott Weiland

The video for Winter Wonderland was great a nice call back to Bing Crosby. His version of Silent Night is long and labored.

9. “Billy Jean” – Chris Cornell

Chris is a great singer but he slims like he’s in pain through half this song

10. “The Boys Are Back In Town” – Everclear


11. “I’m a Believer” – Smash Mouth

So sweet and sugary it will make u a diabetic

12. “It’s My Life” – No Doubt


13. “You Spin Me Right Round” – Dope

Also bland

14. “Bullet The Blue Sky” – POD

A mess

15. “Another Brick in the Wall” – Class of 99

It’s a shame this is the last recording we have of Layne Stanley.

Guilty Pleasures
1.”Word Up” – Korn
2. “Smokin in the Boys Room” – Motley Crew
3. “Cleveland Rocks” – The Presidents Of The United States of America
4. “Street Fighting Man” – Rage Against The Machine
5. “Blue Monday” – Orgy
6. “Revolution” – Stone Temple Pilots
7. “Faith” – Limp Bizkit
8. “Legs” – Kid Rock
9. “Smooth Criminal” – Alien Ant Farm

10. “Going Back to Miami” – Blues Brothers

What’s your favorite cover? Did I miss one?  Let me know!

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. 

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