Laser Time – The Worst Song Covers!

Why make a new song when there’s decades of tunes to shamelessly ape? We run through the history of covers and a few redone tunes that outshone originals before diving into the dregs of poorly-covered crap!


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42 thoughts on “Laser Time – The Worst Song Covers!

  1. One of my top 3 or 4 Pearl Jam songs is called “Last Kiss” I recently learned it’s a cover from an artist named “Wayne Cochran” he and his band never broke big and obviously it’s hard to top a song once you hear Eddie Vedder sing it but the original is quite good as well. In regards to Dylan I love Gn’R’s live cover of Knocking on Heaven’s door and The Stone’s cover of “Like a Rolling Stone(took’m 30+ years to finally cave and do it) is also much better than the original.

    1. I was just stopping in to comment that I want to wrap my own car around the nearest telephone pole whenever I hear Vedder start yarling out “Last Kiss.” Different strokes, I s’pose!

  2. As far as worst covers, Maroon 5 & John Mayer did a cover of “Patience” by Gn’R and it was BAAAAAAD! Part of the point of Rock Ballads is a hard edge group of duders expressing emotion with gritted teeth but when white breed as granola ass teenager suburban Starbucks girl ass John Mayer and Adam Devine/Levigne or whatever do it it’s poison to the ears.

  3. One that I VIVIDLY remember in the after shock of 9/11 the MTV ALL STARS ™ came together and preformed a cover of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? It’s good and full of star power, up until a certain man in a red hat comes on. Uggggh!

    Also would like to mention Baha Men’s “Lime in the Coconut” which I go between loving for it’s stupidity, and hating that it exists. Thin of them as a proto Pitbull.

    1. Holy crap I forgot that version existed! Madonna’s version is an abortion.

      – I’m surprised no one mentioned Sheryl Crow’s crap:
      GnR – Sweet Child o Mine
      Cat Stevens – The First Cut is the Deepest (Rod Stewart has the famous version)

  4. I’m surprised that “Mad World” didn’t make it into the list of songs you didn’t know was a cover. It surprised me especially since I think the cover by Gary Jules is 100% better than the Tears for Fears version.

    1. Do you like other Tears For Fears songs? I think the Gary Jules version is incredibly boring, but I grew up in the 80’s and liked Tears For Fears throughout my childhood, I wonder if the young’uns prefer the slow one?

  5. I don’t think this needed to be bad covers, I think just doing songs you didn’t know were covers, or at least that the version we know isn’t the first or necessarily most successful, would take a whole episode. In the 60’s and 70’s particularly it seems like a lot of songs were written by somebody, then sung by a number of different people, sometimes in different genres, and the same sing would chart by different people over a year or two. Kenny Rogers’ Gambler isn’t the first popular version of that song, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard any others, and didn’t know that wasn’t his song until a fewyears ago. That’s not really a cover, it’s just the way music went before it was common for bands to write their own songs.

    Soft Cell’s Tainted Love made them no money they had two covers on one single (Where Did Our Love Go being the other,) instead of putting a song they wrote as a B-side, that would get them some royalties.

    After I listened to this show today I heard an 80’s version of Funkytown that wasn’t the 70’s one, and I had forgotten that that version existed, I hadn’t heard it in ages.

  6. I was always really big on covers so I’ve got a few to add to the list:
    Tommy James and the Shondells – I think we’re alone now (notably featured in the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer)/Mony Mony
    Otis Redding – Hard to Handle/My Girl/Respect

    Then I did a little research afterwards and found a few more:
    Jake Holmes -Dazed and Confused (he opened for Jimmy Page. Song isn’t exact, but it’s damn close)
    Linda Lindell – What a Man (not Salt N Peppa)
    Willie Nelson – Crazy (wrote and released before Patsy Cline)
    The Leaves – Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix)
    Slade – Cum on Feel the Noize (Quiet Riot)
    Ozzie Nelson – Dream a Little Dream of Me (from 1931!)
    Tina Turner – Don’t Turn Around (Ace of Base)
    Bonnie Tyler – The Best (did good in Norway, but Tina Turner made it a huge hit)
    Tom Waits – Downtown Train (inarguably better than Rod Stewart)
    Roger Miller – Me and Bobby McGee (not Janis Joplin)
    Erma Franklin (Aretha’s older sister) – Piece of my Heart (also not Janis Joplin..)
    Racey – Kitty (Hey Mickey, you stole this song)
    Louis Primal – Jump Jive an’ Wail (not surprisingly not Brian Setzer)
    Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club – Video Killed the Radio Star (Cowritten but came out first )
    BJ Thomas – Hooked on a Feeling (First covered by Jonathan King, who added the Ooga Chucka. Then covered by Blue Swede)
    The Arrows – I Love Rock and Roll

    As for bad covers, I’ll try to keep it short, but there are a couple that come to mind:
    Offspring – Hey Joe
    Snoop Dogg – We Will Rock You
    Ben Folds – Bitches Ain’t Shit (I actually like this one alot)

    1. They have, on Bonus Time, social media updates etc. You can’t expect them to cover this on every single show.

  7. I am surprised you guys had two of Disturb’s cover songs but neglected to mention the worst one of all. I think it was their last album that had Sound of Silence. It’s just as awful as you think it would be.

    I’m also a bit shocked you didn’t have GnR’s Spaghetti Incident on here. I believe the album is all covers and they are all awful. I’m chalking that up to too much garbage and not enough airtime. I’m also savouring Brett’s last few episodes on LT. So sad he is leaving.

    1. I actually really like that song.
      I don’t have any real affection for Disturbed in general, but I think that and their Land of Confusion covers quite a bit.

  8. I am young, just shy of my 21st birthday as I write this comment. I heard Alien Ant Farm’s cover of “Smooth Criminal” via its music video on Much Music (basically Canadian MTV) before the Michael Jackson version. When I later heard it, I was kinda like “huh” and immediately recognized that it is vastly superior.

    In any case, loved the episode, music-based episodes + Michael Grimm is always a treat.

  9. When you guys started ripping on Pomplamoose, I immediately imagined Jack Conte in his lair, stroking an albino kitten and pressing the delete button on your Patreon funding.

  10. So here’s a story about a bad cover.

    My favorite band is The String Cheese Incident. I like more of their stuff than the average Joe Music, but I can usually recognize when they strike out. One of those strike-outs is their cover of “Walk This Way”, from their 1997 self-titled live album. I don’t think it’s without its charms, but I don’t ever feel like listening to it, and everyone I’ve ever played it actively loathed it. Here’s the link, for your edification and reference

    At work, my dad and his coworkers often listen to an alt-country station. It’s a good station—it was how we discovered The Bad Livers, to name but one example. So one day my dad comes home and tells me he and his coworkers heard the worst cover of Walk This Way they ever heard in their lives on their alt-country station, and had I ever heard it? I said I hadn’t. I didn’t have it in me to tell him my favorite band was responsible for it. Just to be sure, I brought this story up with him many years later and played it, and he confirmed: yep, that was it.


    Speaking of jam bands and covers, there’s one called Pink Talking Fish. No prizes for guessing which three bands they cover, nor for correctly placing on a scale of 0 to 10 how essential a listening experience they are.

    Lastly, my wife LOVES and even PREFERS the Limp Bizkit version of “Behind Blue Eyes”. I tell her every time it comes on that that’s grounds for divorce, and she laughs, thinking I’m joking.

  11. A lot of this episode was a revelation, but i also wasnt surprised at how much stuff from the 40s 50s and 60s was covered in the 70s 80s and 90s because they were probably kids through those periods or their parents played that music when they were growing up so they came to love it. Also i rofl’d when Dave mentioned JNCO jeans. Boy howdy did i have the biggest effing jean bottoms. I remember having that moment as a 20 something where an older adult came along and said “you know those are just bell bottoms you’re wearing? We used to wear those.” And i was like yeah i know. it was anticlimactic for him I’m sure. He probably wanted me to argue that this was an original style. meh.

  12. I’ll add a couple more to the conversation:
    Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” covered by Marilyn Manson
    Karl Douglas “Kung Fu Fighting” covered by Tom Jones for a Jackie Chan movie

  13. I remember as a pre-teen I hadn’t really solidified my personal music identity. So was influenced a bit by my older sister. And from that we get a cross over of shame songs and song covers. The Party’s cover of Dokken’s In My Dreams.

    Also the first CD I bought was the soundtrack to Encino Man because it has some recognizable songs on the back. That’s how I discovered song covers and how bad they could be. Specifically LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out covered by a band called Scatterbrain.

  14. Glad to hear some love for the Activision Anthology soundtrack! The PS2 game is the first place I heard several of my favorite 80’s songs. “It’s My Life” is a highlight, of course, as are “Walking in L.A.” by Missing Persons, and “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)” by Squeeze.

  15. So, during that period when Atari Teenage Riot had broken up, there was a cover tribute album to them called, “The Virus Has Been Spread”, from D-Trash Records. Some of the covers are alright, but others are just…”nah, bro.” Check it out for yourself here.

    Also, this one digital hardcore band called “F Noize” did a cover of the classic Beastie Boys song, “Sabotage. I like it, but I completely understand if others don’t.

  16. A couple of things:

    First, I definitely downloaded an MP3 of “Summer of ’69” labelled as being by Bryan Adams. Chris, you’re not alone.

    Second, Limp Bizkit’s cover of “Faith” gave me flashbacks from being a nerdy junior high kid in Woodlawn, IL (Pop. approximately 800), at the birthday party of a douchebag jock from my class. This party was at the tiny-ass “community building”, and I distinctly remember “Faith” being played over and over and over and over because it just came out and nothing good happens in SoIL. At some point during the night, the birthday boy hit me in the balls because that’s funny to junior highers.

    Thanks, LaserTime, for making me revert to being a junior high nerd being hit in the balls while a shitty Limp Bizkit cover repeats in the distance.

  17. Fight the Power – Barenaked Ladies –
    Riders on The Storm – Snoop Dogg Ft. The Doors
    911 Is A Joke – Duran Duran
    California Girls – David Lee Roth

    Australia’s radio station Triple J does a program called Like A Version where artists come in and perform covers. Mostly good, but some bad.

    Rolling Stone did a readers choice for worst covers and Durst came 2nd

  18. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit, the first time I heard Tainted Love was the Marilyn Manson cover. I complained to my brother about it, and he said “you know that’s a cover of an 80s song, right?” I listened to the Soft Cell version and didn’t like that either. I didn’t hear the Gloria Jones original until years later as part of GTA:San Andreas, and it’s incredible. I found it funny how each progressive cover got more sterile and watered down compared to how much the original kicked ass.

  19. One of the weirder covers I’ve heard is “Hand of Doom: Version” by Danzig. The original is a Black Sabbath song, though not one of their popular tracks. It’s a pretty good song that was probably immediately disqualified for radio due to its runtime. If you’re only familiar with Danzig through the song “Mother,” then you’d probably be surprised to hear that the album this cover is from is an industrial rock album called Blackacidevil released in 1996. It’s as terrible as you probably imagine, but what makes the cover unique (for all of the wrong reasons) is that Danzig took a song about heroin addiction and changed the lyrics to make it about necrophilia. I’ll let you use your imagination when trying to figure out how he adapted the line “Put the needle in,” for his version.

  20. If you guys are after another bad U2 cover (and I know you are), might I recommend this version of With or Without You from Irish Clubland – a garbage 2003 dance compilation I picked up a few months ago:

    Even worse though, I think, is this bizarre mash up of Seven Drunken Nights (and old Irish folk song) and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You from the same album:

    Just… why???

  21. One thing you guys don’t seem to understand about the phenomenon of song ownership is that back in the day, it was actually pretty rare that performers would write all of their own songs. Typically there were dedicated song writers who worked for publishing companies, and then the record production wings would scout groups and have them perform them. Elvis, in fact, never wrote a single song he performed. That’s why Bob Dylan was such a big deal. He was really the first major artist that wrote and performed all of his own music. Even luminaries such as Chuck Berry, who wrote and performed music, still performed a lot of songs he didn’t write. That makes the fact that Dylan never really had a hit all the worse.

  22. One other thing, with regards to Wham/George Michael, I actually like both the Durst Faith as just a silly thing, and the one Pamplemoose cover I like is Wake Me up Before you Go Go. Something about the juxtaposition of their loungy sound and her forlorn phraseology on the vocals with such an otherwise exuberant, if not camp, tune really charms me. It probably doesn’t hurt that Nataly Dawn looks cute af in that blue wig.

  23. Your mention of Duran Duran knocked loose a memory. A decade back on my morning commute I’d occasionally get stuck behind this SUV that was decked out with Duran Duran bumper stickers, window decals, and a license plate cover. Things like “Duranie” and “It’s a Duran Duran thing… You wouldn’t understand.”

    It’s stuck with me all these years because it baffled just-out-of-college me. Deadheads is heard of, but Duran Duran? Seriously? Nothing wrong with their music, but I’d never seen that level of dedication to a band you don’t usually associate with cult followings.

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