Be warned...what you’re about to read, and possibly listen to, may be hazardous to your health. There are five classic rock cover songs that have to be considered the worst ever recorded or performed or both. A vast majority of these songs are covered by female artists and only one male. One of the covers is strictly from a television special, so there’s no recording on CD or digital that exists, except uploaded onto YouTube.
There are three major pop divas who thought they could rock it out. One cover by a TV actor is actually quite hysterical. It’s almost like watching a bad audition from an early season of “American Idol.” First, for each song title and artist you’ll find a link with the cover song, followed by a link of the original artist. This way your experience won’t be as traumatic. Now get ready for a musical experience you’re likely not going to forget (not in a good way either).
“American Pie” - Madonna (Don McLean)
Out of the five worst cover songs this actually is one of the slighter better ones, though this cover of “American Pie” is wrong on so many levels. Madonna never has, and never will be, a Joan Baez when it comes to folk-rock ballads. The song by Don McLean perfectly describes his stark memory on the death of his music idol, Buddy Holly. He reminisces about scenes of his hometown. It follows up with a musical history of sorts after “the day the music died.”
Madonna treats this song like one of her forgettable 1980s hits. Even the music video is reminiscent of her constant mugging the camera, a la early MTV. She intentionally has some wardrobe malfunctions thrown into the mix. Of course Madonna is making her own human rights statement too. Her messages are too mixed and she completely missed the mark.
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” - William Shatner (The Beatles)
During the 1960s it was a common practice for popular TV stars to record a hit single, or even take it a bit further with an album. That is exactly what Captain Kirk, I mean William Shatner, did while riding the crest of his “Star Trek” TV series fame. He recorded an album titled “The Transformed Man” that’s filled with his “soliloquy readings” style of singing.
It’s like Shakespeare meets a wannabe rock star Captain Kirk on steroids. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is unlike any cover song you will ever hear. It is outrageously funny when Shatner goes over the top. Sometime you have to wonder if his interpretation of LSD is more literal than the Beatles.
“I Love Rock and Roll” - Britney Spears (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)
Britney is the only artist on the list that covered a song by a female artist. That’s the only positive about it. Much like Madonna, her cover is pure Britney complete with excessively hogging the camera, moaning and groaning all the way through, and singing in her baby talk-helium voice. It’s painfully obvious “I Love Rock and Roll” is a rock song, and not some pop schlock Britney recorded. The original artist Joan Jett recorded an earlier version with members of the Sex Pistols. You can’t get more rock than that.
“You Shook Me All Night Long” - Celine Dion (AC/DC)
Those are two names, Celine Dion and AC/DC, that should never go together, ever. It was for the 2002 “VH1 Divas” TV special in Las Vegas. Celine, along with special guest Anastacia, opened the show with AC/DC’s killer song, "You Shook Me All Night Long." She certainly killed it; more like murdered this classic rock anthem.
It wasn’t so much Celine’s vocals, which are meant strictly for cheesy pop ballads and nothing else. It was her dreadful air guitar moves, duck walks, and tip-toeing across the stage throughout. The word bad doesn’t even begin to describe it. If it weren’t for Anastacia’s rocking vocals, and the excellent guitar solo by the band, this would be at the top of this list. You simply have to watch it to believe it.
“My Generation” - Hilary Duff (The Who)
“The Brady Bunch” was a popular TV series in the 1970s where in the latter seasons they decided to break into the music business. There are even some record albums of the Brady Bunch kids. If you find them on YouTube or anywhere else they sound like they are shouting when singing. That is what Hilary Duff’s version of “My Generation” by The Who sounds like, something by “The Brady Bunch.”
Her cover is at a faster tempo that’s chock full of her nasally, high-pitched vocals. This is the epitome of bubblegum pop. The Who sang and played it with such anger and frustration of the changing and challenging 1960s. You can see her in concert at Jingle Ball. Britney Spears and Madonna she’s not as far as her stage performance goes.