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Songs that should be illegal for cover bands to play

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MidnightRambler Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan! from Germania Inferior
Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan!
Mar 27th 2012 at 4:36:32 PM

For some time now, I've been convinced that there should be a "blacklist" of songs that cover bands wouldn't be allowed to play anymore, simply because they've been done to death.

You know the feeling. You're at a moderately large party, and the people organising the party thought it would be mighty fun to invite a local cover band to provide some live music. And they start to play... and you go, 'Oh no, not THAT song again.'

In my experience, there are three reasons why some songs get covered to death:

  • Audience Appeal: Many cover bands mostly play parties and other casual gatherings - usually, their audience will want to dance and 'have a good time', preferably with songs they can sing along to. Thus, songs that are well-known, catchy, and easy to dance to will find their way into the standard cover band repertoire.
  • Compromise: Bands are sometimes thrown together in a haste from people who didn't pick each other and may have wildly varying tastes in music. (Music schools sometimes offer "band lessons" to teach young people how to play and practice with a band; this is a frequent source of these Ragtag Bunches Of Misfits). When these bands decide what songs to play, anything that leans too heavily towards a specific genre - like blues or metal - gets veto'd by someone, until only the bland pop-rock songs which nobody really likes but which nobody vehemently objects to, either, are left.
  • Skill, or the Lack Thereof: This one is obvious. Not all cover bands consist of proficient musicians (in fact, most of them probably don't). So they go for songs that are easy to play.

The following is a list of songs of which we, the posters in this thread, have heard a hundred equally bland renditions by a hundred cover bands, and of which we strongly wish not to hear the 101st rendition. Note that being on this list does not mean a song is bad; we aren't trying to bash any particular genre or period, either. This list purely concerns itself with songs that have been covered too often, thus eliciting the aforementioned 'Oh no, not THAT song again' response.

Also note that, since this is about Cover Versions, the songs are sorted by their original artist (or, in the case of a traditional, the earliest known performance). This is not necessarily the version most people are familiar with.

We're at 50 songs now, I think that's a nice round number.

  • Adele - "Rolling In The Deep"
  • The Arrows - "I Love Rock 'N' Roll"
  • George Baker Selection - "Little Green Bag". Even the most awesome bass lines can only take a finite amount of repetition before they become tiresome.
  • The Beatles - "Hey Jude" and "Yesterday"
  • Black Sabbath - "Paranoid". Yes, yes, you're very heavy and menacing. Now can you please play something more original?
  • Solomon Burke - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love"
  • Alice Cooper - "School's Out"
  • Cream - "Sunshine Of Your Love"
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Proud Mary". They usually do the Ike & Tina Turner version.
  • Spencer Davis Group - "Gimme Some Lovin'". 'That ain't no Hank Williams song!'
  • Duffy - "Mercy"
  • Caro Emerald - "A Night Like This"
  • Europe - "The Final Countdown". This one is a favourite of sillier cover bands, to the point that being an intentionally cheesy "parody" band boils down to playing this song on as ridiculous an instrument as possible. Guys, it was funny the first two or three times, but after 50+ "Final Cheesedowns", the joke is starting to get old.
  • Eddie Floyd - "Knock On Wood". Most bands go with Amii Stewart's disco version rather than the original.
  • The Fratellis - "Chelsea Dagger"
  • Guns 'N' Roses - "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City". If you want to play Guitar Hero, do it at home! On your TV!
  • Jet - "Are You Gonna Be My Girl". This one gets extra groaning points because it gives you the urge to explain to everyone present that it's a reworked version of Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life" in all but name.
  • Gloria Jones - "Tainted Love"
  • Kings Of Leon - "Use Somebody"
  • KISS - "I Was Made For Loving You"
  • Krezip - "Sweet Goodbyes"
  • Liquido - "Narcotic"
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Sweet Home Alabama"
  • Don McLean - "American Pie"
  • Metallica - "Enter Sandman". Yes, we know it's the only metal song that ever became popular with the mainstream... please stop rubbing it in.
  • Steve Miller Band - "The Joker"
  • Motörhead - "Ace Of Spades"
  • Jason Mraz - "I'm Yours"
  • Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit". 'LOOK AT US, WE'RE BEING ROUGH AND REBELLIOUS!'
  • Oasis - "Wonderwall"
  • Ozzy Osbourne - "Crazy Train"
  • Carl Perkins - "Blue Suede Shoes". There are more Rock & Roll songs than just this one, people!
  • Queen - "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Another One Bites The Dust"
  • Racoon - "No Mercy"
  • Rage Against The Machine - "Killing In The Name"
  • The Ramones - "Blitzkrieg Bop"
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Dani California" and "Californication". Every teenage band ever has probably played one of these songs. Or both of them.
  • The Rolling Stones - "Satisfaction"
  • The Sex Pistols - "Anarchy In The U.K."
  • Shocking Blue - "Venus"
  • Dusty Springfield - "Son Of A Preacher Man"
  • The Top Notes - "Twist And Shout". Most covers are based on the Beatles' version.
  • Ritchie Valens - "La Bamba"
  • The White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army"
  • The Who - "My Generation"
  • Stevie Wonder - "Superstition"

edited 9th Apr '12 3:09:21 AM by MidnightRambler

Mache dich, mein Herze, rein...
0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Mar 27th 2012 at 7:03:31 PM

I'd vote for Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours", simply because if you're playing it, it's generally because A) you can't play anything else and B) you think it's gonna have the widest appeal and make people love you.

"Crazy Train" too maybe—playing it is essentially admitting, "We only know/can play a single metal song."

And I like Amii Stewart's version of "Knock on Wood" :'( (Maybe it's just because I like disco.)

EDIT: Oh, your username just made me think of "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band...maybe? And there's probably a couple Rolling Stones songs we can add to this list, but I can't think of a good specific one to list.

edited 27th Mar '12 7:04:41 PM by 0dd1

Insert witty and clever quip here. My page, as the database hates my handle. My music.
MidnightRambler Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan! from Germania Inferior
Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan!
Mar 27th 2012 at 7:07:20 PM

[up] Ooh, yes, "The Joker"! Good one. As for "I'm Yours", I don't know about that one... although I've definitely heard that chord progression a thousand times. If you say it's been done to death, I'll trust your word.

And like you, I've been thinking of Rolling Stones songs to add to the list, but can't think of any specific songs that are really played so often it gets annoying. Besides, most of their well-known songs are just too damn good to be on a list like this. tongue

edited 27th Mar '12 7:13:06 PM by MidnightRambler

Mache dich, mein Herze, rein...
0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Mar 27th 2012 at 7:09:43 PM

Maybe "I Can Get No Satisfaction" for sole virtue of its riff having become a cliche by this point? And speaking of riffs, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" maybe tongue EDIT: And "Smoke on the Water", though that's more of a "don't enter a guitar store if that's all you're going to do" thing.

edited 27th Mar '12 7:10:29 PM by 0dd1

Insert witty and clever quip here. My page, as the database hates my handle. My music.
MidnightRambler Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan! from Germania Inferior
Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan!
Mar 27th 2012 at 7:24:56 PM

[up] Well, I was mostly thinking of the standard pop/soul outfit - you know, the ones with bubbly blonde women on vocals, serious-looking guitarists in dress shirts, and often a small brass section. (I don't know if bands like this exist everywhere, but it's definitely a thing here in the Netherlands).

Still, "Crazy Train" is probably a good addition, but "Smoke On The Water" is more of a guitar-store thing, indeed - I don't know if I've ever heard a band play it. As for "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", I think I'd actually be happy if a cover band played that...

Mache dich, mein Herze, rein...
JHM Apparition in the Woods from Niemandswasser Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
Apparition in the Woods
Mar 27th 2012 at 7:25:24 PM

[up][up] Well, unless you're trying to pay homage to DEVO or The Residents, in which case "Satisfaction" should be forgiven if not advised.

As for covers that people should just avoid playing like the septicaemic plague, "Anarchy in the U.K." and "Sweet Jane". Seriously, just... if you're going to play a Sex Pistols song, there are several others that you can play without sounding like a simpering poseur. Ditto the Velvet Underground, with the further caveat that everyone forgets the middle-eight and, more importantly, the fourth chord.

[up] It also may be the only thing of serious merit in Iron Butterfly's entire catalogue. The organ part requires some talent, though.

edited 27th Mar '12 7:27:05 PM by JHM

I'll hide your name inside a word and paint your eyes with false perception.
MidnightRambler Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan! from Germania Inferior
Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan!
Mar 27th 2012 at 7:31:54 PM

It also may be the only thing of serious merit in Iron Butterfly's entire catalogue.

They have a catalogue?

Mache dich, mein Herze, rein...
JHM Apparition in the Woods from Niemandswasser Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
MidnightRambler Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan! from Germania Inferior
Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan!
Mar 27th 2012 at 7:49:40 PM

[up] Well, I was kidding tongue I know the other songs on the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album - of which "Are You Happy?" is actually quite decent.

Anyway, back on topic... If enough people contribute to this, we might be able to make it into an article, similar to The Grand List Of Console RPG Cliches. That would be pretty cool.

edited 27th Mar '12 7:52:00 PM by MidnightRambler

Mache dich, mein Herze, rein...
MidnightRambler Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan! from Germania Inferior
Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan!
Mar 27th 2012 at 7:51:44 PM

Also, HOW did I miss "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" when I originally posted this?!

Mache dich, mein Herze, rein...
0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Mar 27th 2012 at 8:58:22 PM

Heh, just realized one song you have on this list is a song a friend of mine's band plays in their shows ("Anarchy in the U.K.").

Insert witty and clever quip here. My page, as the database hates my handle. My music.
MidnightRambler Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan! from Germania Inferior
Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan!
Mar 27th 2012 at 9:01:08 PM

[up] That was JHM's addition. I personally can't recall ever having heard a band play it.

Mache dich, mein Herze, rein...
drunkscriblerian Street Writing Man from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
Mar 27th 2012 at 9:18:32 PM

"Tainted Love" should be on there. Hell, the Soft Cell version is a cover.

If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed. ~Cora M. Strayer~
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:04:51 PM

Really? Some of my favorite covers are of songs on that list. Stuff like Smells Like Teen Spirit by Patty Smith. (The riff is catchy, but so what? Why are you being protective over it?) Also a poster up thread mentioned Satisfaction. I love Cat Power's take on this song.

JHM Apparition in the Woods from Niemandswasser Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
Apparition in the Woods
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:08:21 PM

[up][up] In general this is true, though I may give exception to covering Coil's version—namely, at a snail's pace, with all the sinister overtones turned waaay up.

[up] Patty Smith does not count here. We are talking normal humans.

edited 27th Mar '12 10:09:15 PM by JHM

I'll hide your name inside a word and paint your eyes with false perception.
0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:18:04 PM

[up][up]I think generally he means being covered by the kind of band you'd hear playing at one of your local venues or in a bar or something.

Insert witty and clever quip here. My page, as the database hates my handle. My music.
drunkscriblerian Street Writing Man from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:18:18 PM

@JHM: yeah, there are some good ones...but Christ, you could put together a 2 CD set from covers of that song alone. It is officially played out, I say.

If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed. ~Cora M. Strayer~
MidnightRambler Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan! from Germania Inferior
Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan!
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:21:47 PM

[up][up][up][up] Yeah, we're not talking about actually recorded covers by accomplished musicians - just about the thousands of small-time cover bands who exist primarily to provide live music at parties and other small events, and about the tens or hundreds of thousands of cheesy teenage bands across the world.

edited 27th Mar '12 10:25:28 PM by MidnightRambler

Mache dich, mein Herze, rein...
0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:27:40 PM

and about the tens or hundreds of thousands of cheesy teenage bands across the world
Like the one I wanna form! :D

Insert witty and clever quip here. My page, as the database hates my handle. My music.
MidnightRambler Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan! from Germania Inferior
Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan!
0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:37:24 PM

I take it some of these choices are from personal performance experience?

Insert witty and clever quip here. My page, as the database hates my handle. My music.
JHM Apparition in the Woods from Niemandswasser Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
Apparition in the Woods
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:39:06 PM

I'm in a band in which at least two of the active members are teenagers, and we don't completely suck...

(Caveat: One of them is a virtuoso classical player; the other is just shy of twenty. The residual suck is, therefore, inexcusable.)

I'll hide your name inside a word and paint your eyes with false perception.
0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:41:49 PM

Damn. Wish I knew people who played the violin at all, much less are virtuosos.

Insert witty and clever quip here. My page, as the database hates my handle. My music.
JHM Apparition in the Woods from Niemandswasser Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
Apparition in the Woods
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:48:52 PM

He's actually a viola player. We have a violin player too, though; he also plays guitar sometimes.

But yes, it's one of those weird coincidence things, in this case. That, and our school being saturated with random musicians and choral singers (we're big on the arts around here).

But back to it! There are certain Pixies songs, I think, that should not be covered without sufficient justification or modification, for the simple reason that anyone with a less idiosyncratic voice than Frank Black would just sound dumb trying to sing them. Ditto Dead Kennedys, if to a much lesser extent. (I actually really want to sing "The Man With The Dogs"...)

edited 27th Mar '12 10:51:59 PM by JHM

I'll hide your name inside a word and paint your eyes with false perception.
MidnightRambler Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan! from Germania Inferior
Ich bin nicht schuld! 's ist Gottes Plan!
Mar 27th 2012 at 10:51:03 PM

I take it some of these choices are from personal performance experience?

Yes, they are. God, how I hated having to play "Californication" because that's the only thing we could more or less agree on...

Mache dich, mein Herze, rein...

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