Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Worst cover of all time?

Gee, big world news headline: Celine Dion's cover of AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long is "responsible for the world's worst cover version" according to Total Guitar magazine. And you know, I have absolutely no qualms with that. In fact, I almost wrote a fevered post about this cover atrocity when I was first exposed to it on youtube a long while ago, but decided it was best buried and forgotten about. But like John McClane it's come back with a vengeance!

There's bad, there's mediocre, and then there's active horribleness. Celine Dion is not the only guilty party; guest star Anastacia joins her on stage for a tag team assault on the audience. Usually when I hear or see a bad cover I'll scoff or roll my eyes, but this time I got a little tickle in my throat and a queasiness in my belly that had me rapidly clicking for the stop button. Perhaps if I had just heard the cover, it wouldn't be so bad, but seeing the accompanying video is a frighteningly visceral experience. Yes, you can pretty much taste the awfulness. Dion's air guitar intro with elbow streamers (?) that just scream ROCK & ROLL, the enthusiastic crowd, the pelvic thrusts, Anastacia's garish wardrobe, and simply the utter discrepancy between song choice and performers. I had to turn it off before my brain boiled. I'm generally all for cross-genre covers, but it's no surprise that some of the worst covers in the last few years are pop stars + rock classics. I'd give a strong nod to Fergie's Live & Let Die cover as one of the worst in recent memory. I'll leave you on you own to dig up these youtube links.

Rounding out the bottom five: All Saints' Walk This Way, Westlife's More Than Words, Will Young's Light My Fire, and The Mike Flowers Pops' Wonderwall. The inclusion of the latter is kind of odd since the cover is clearly tongue-in-cheek, like saying "Austin Powers is the worst drama ever!", or is that the joke?

The Mike Flowers Pops - MacArthur Park [originally recorded by Richard Harris; written by Jimmy Webb]
Here they cover one of the reputed "worst songs in history". For the record, I LOVE MacArthur Park, covers and all.

The Mike Flowers Pops - Bowie Medley [originally by David Bowie]
A medley of Bowie hits performed live by The Mike Flowers Pops.

By the way, here's an extreme example of a cross-genre cover courtesy of a Jonathan Coulton fan: Still Alive on Carillon.

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