Cover versions are a somewhat divisive prospect. They can generally go two ways: either an artist can reinterpret an existing song with passion and respect, or they can utterly destroy it, not so much burning bridges with musical aficionados as nuking the toll booth from orbit.
There is a third category, however – one that exists outside the traditional realm of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and more in the realm of ‘just plain unbelievable’. Here, then, are 5 of the most downright bizarre cover versions you’ll ever hear. You may love them or hate them, but you certainly can’t deny their uniqueness …
5. William Shatner – ‘Common People’
The original: generation-defining Britpop tune from Jarvis Cocker and company, mixing in deadpan social commentary with chiming guitars and irresistible melody:
The revamp: William Shatner adds his unique ‘bewildered old man in post office’ slant to proceedings:
4. Nina Gordon – ‘Straight Outta Compton’
The original: Ice Cube and the NWA boys tear up the late 80s, and in the process become the main debating topic for a million horrified PTA meetings. We don’t need to warn you about the strong language in this one, do we?
The revamp: Ex-Veruca Salt alumni Nina Gordon lends her angelic tones and mellow acoustic stylings to a tale of cop killing and urban unrest. Strong language still present and not-so-correct:
3. Paul Anka – ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’
The original: Kurt Cobain lights a 1991 Gen-X bonfire and immediately makes mulleted glam rock redundant. RATT and Poison records are out, checked shirts and never washing your hair is in.
The revamp: The entire interweb recently went seething mad over a Miley Cyrus cover of this tune (thousands of lank-haired misogynists unhappy that a pretty young girl was interfering with ‘their music’, obviously.) Far more intruiging is this swingin’ lounge-lizard version by Paul Anka. Genuinely remarkable – like a walnut trying to sing Primus.
2. Radiohead – ‘Wonderwall’
The original: Simplistic yet effective ballad takes Oasis into the stratosphere. Ever seen a drunk man in a football shirt locked out of his house, trying to sing romantically to his angry wife through the letterbox, hoping that she’ll forgive him for missing their candlelit dinner? He was singing Wonderwall:
The revamp: Creative, genre-splicing pioneers Radiohead give the impression that they’re not taking things too seriously:
1. Bob Dylan – ‘Friday’
The original: Rebecca Black becomes a viral sensation after her autotuned atrocity Friday is heard by literally everyone in the world. Just in case you need reminding:
The revamp: Legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan is so enraptured by ‘Friday’ that he … oh, okay, this one isn’t real. We just wish it was.
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