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The Best and Worst Cover Songs

by Lane Hughes

For so many years, artists and bands have been paying tribute to their musical inspirations by covering songs in their own and often times convoluted renditions. Most often, the songs being covered are better suited to remain an original and should not be tampered with unless it is respectfully executed without contradicting and disrespecting the instinctive meaning behind its writing. Sometimes, songs are beautifully and humbly covered, and a lot of times they are brutally murdered and regrettably embarrassing to the creators and its listeners within the industry. Here is a list of some of the most incredulous covers in music and of the most suitably understood greats.

Worst Covers

Five Finger Death Punch – “Bad Company”

It’s a sad truth that the band Five Finger Death Punch received much of their success due to this despicable cover of classic rock band Bad Company. This cover is bad in so many ways, and it’s largely due to how uncomfortably forceful the band is with implementing their own gimmicks and lines and replacing certain original lyrics. Vocalist and lyricist, Ivan Moody, seemed to think it was a fantastic idea to replace the line “six-gun sound” with “death punch sound” and it only adds to how awful this rendition is. It’s even more regrettably sad that this song is most commonly associated with Five Finger Death Punch rather than its true creator, Bad Company. You can probably hear it blasting in a high school weight room.

Disturbed – “The Sound Of Silence”

Simon and Garfunkel’s subtle and beautifully classic track, “The Sound Of Silence”, has been covered by various artists and bands. While no cover of this track has achieved the same essence and entrapment of emotions as the original, the metal band Disturbed decided to take a swing at it and their version is quite truthfully the worst. Not only is it entirely ridiculous for a radio rock band to cover such a soft track, but they do so in a way that completely tarnishes the respect and originality of the renowned song. The whispered vocals are replaced with obnoxious vibrato and over-the-top aggression. It seems vocalist David Draiman was trying to rid this song of its organically pleasant and quietly nuanced attributes and replace it with watered down dad-rock cliches.This cover has become increasingly popular and it’s a shame that today we can associate Disturbed with a track originally composed by much greater and respected artists that is Simon and Garfunkel.

Big and Rich – “Shook Me All Night Long”

A repetitive pattern in the history of bad covers is the blatant discrepancies between the genre of the band who is covering and the genre of the original. Big and Rich, a country music duo, covered classic rock band AC/DC’s “Shook Me All Night Long”, and it sounds as you’d imagine: not good. Classic rock is a very understood genre of music and if any artist or band is wanting to cover a song within its massive history, they should do so in similar manner in which it was written: through carrying out the same vibe of care-free fun and sexually wild living. Big and Rich’s cover of Shook Me All Night Long” completely swallows this song and spits out something that you would expect from a country duo. This cover is so bad and it’s rather disturbing to hear a country-radio duo sing so descriptively about sex.


Johnny Cash – “Hurt”

The legend Johnny Cash covered the song “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails in the last days of his life as an elderly legend. This song is raw and emotionally deep. It’s overall vibe is something peacefully uncomfortable but content, and it is perfectly simple. Johnny’s beloved and renowned partner and wife died only six months after the release of the saddening track. The lyrics are kept the same but are implied in different ways in both versions. It’s certainly an interesting transformation considering the dichotomy between the two genres. It’s an accomplishment artists and bands should look to as a model for covering music.

Jeff Buckley“Hallelujah”

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is without a doubt, one of the most repetitively covered songs in history. I think it deserves to be mentioned on this small, narrowed down list that Jeff Buckley’s rendition of this popular song is the most well executed, and most popular cover. The vast amount of versions of this song begs the question of which is the best and the general consensus rules in favor of this well-respected and softly covered piece.

Whitney Houston – “I Will Always Love You”

Most often it seems people associate the song “I Will Always Love You” with Whitney Houston’s later and iconic cover but it’s actually originally written and performed by country singer Dolly Parton, in 1974. It’s justifiable through, the success Whitney Houston had received from her soulful rendition. It’s undoubtedly the greatest rendition of the track and certainly helped propel her career. The cover is passionate and full of emotion and is seemingly a household song among the general population.


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