BBC Music released the Children in Need charity single last week – a star-studded cover of The Beach Boys’ classic ‘God Only Knows’. As you’d expect from the Beeb, it’s a great tribute, with cameos from the likes of Chris Martin and Brian May adding to its charm. But most cover versions are not as successful – we’ve compiled our picks of the worst cover versions of popular songs below.
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1. William Shatner – Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Another pop masterpiece from 1967, this one wasn’t handled quite as well as BBC Music’s cover though. Shatner’s album The Transformed Man is a cult classic of terrible covers, and well worth digging out if you feel like your ears have been getting an easy ride lately.
2. The Streets – Your Song
Not unlike Shatner’s talk-singing, The Streets’ version of Your Song features Mike Skinner half-heartedly going through the motions on one of Elton John’s most popular love songs. Some have suggested he sounds a little like Kermit the Frog too – not a great comparison, surely?
3. Take That – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Think of the disaffection, angst and rebellious sprit that Nirvana stood for. Now think about Take That. Their cover is about as jarring as you would imagine – note Gary Barlow butchering the chorus with his polite delivery. Thankfully he’s calmed down a bit since then!
4. Cast of Glee – Most songs
Glee’s Beatles covers are among some of the worst – stripping away the magic of the original versions to create unrecognisable, auto-tuned ‘anthems’.
5. Mick Jagger & David Bowie – Dancing in the Street
A Motown standard covered by two legendary artists… in the 80s. Any other decade and we might have been OK, but the pastel shirts and mullets in the accompanying music video say it all. This cover was a charity single for Live Aid, and it topped the UK chart for 4 weeks. But that video is unforgiveable.
If we’ve missed any, let us know on Facebook and Twitter so we know what to avoid!