The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Cover versions are a grey area; they can be the making, or breaking of an artist. In some instances, they can send a career into a downwards spiral of despair, in others, a well-chosen cover version can shoot to success sending the original song and it's writer into history's murky depths, never to see the light of day again.

We came about this idea for a blog post after Muse's Feeling Good came on the radio in the office and we agreed that it was one of the better cover versions of the last decade. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

I'm sure we've all heard our fair share of awful pub band covers, as well as some really outstanding versions that make you see the song in a new light. So we're going to talk about The Good, The Bad And The Ugly sides of cover versions that have hit the mainstream. For better of for worse. Here are our selections:


  • Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode / Marilyn Manson

  • This particular case is a case of if it ain't broke don't fix it. The Depeche Mode version is such an iconic track, there was no need for Manson to do a rendition - especially when it's so similar to the original.

  • Behind Blue Eyes - The Who / Limp Bizkit

  • Well, what I can say about this track? Sometimes, people really shouldn't bother...

  • Sweet Child Of Mine - Guns N' Roses / Sheryl Crow

  • This track isn't the worst on our list. Sheryl has put has own Country twist on it, but it just lacks so much oomph. There's no real passion or feeling in her delivery. It's all a bit wet really, sorry Sheryl! You just can't compare it to the powerful Rock classic that is the original.

  • Tragedy - The Bee Gees / Steps

  • Now, back in the 90's, some people (like myself and Matt in the office) wouldn't have been aware of the original version of this song, or that there even was an original version, but we'll put that down to our ages. Luckily, we now know better! This is a terrible cover of a pioneering disco classic, with even worse dance moves to go with it.


  • Feeling Good - Nina Simone / Muse

  • This will go down as one of the best covers in history. Matt Bellamy's vocals are amazingly powerful. He captures the swells and builds with firm agression still leaving room for a delicate vulnerability to creep in. It has everything a cover version should have. It's taken the best elements of Simone's Jazz style, and it stands as a song it it's own right.

  • Live And Let Die - Paul McCartney/Wings / Guns N' Roses

  • Although very similar to the original, it's a great rendition bringing in hints of the Guns N' Roses' Glam Rock image.

  • Nothing Compares 2 U - Prince / Sinead O Connor

  • Sinead's cover is one of the best examples of a successful cover version in our generation. Her heart-breaking, classic 'break-up' song broke the Irish singer into the mainstream in 1990 and still remains her most famous hit.

  • Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson / Alien Ant Farm

  • This is just an all-round fun, not too serious punk/pop cover. It was a huge hit when I was a teenager, and catapulted Alien Ant Farm into the spotlight...for a while anyway.

  • Blue Suede Shoes - Carl Perkins / Elvis Presley

  • The story behind this track goes like this: Carl Perkins originally wrote and recorded Blue Suede Shoes, but after a tragic car accident left him in hospital, Elvis went onto perform the song on American TV and the song rocketed to international fame.

    So, what makes a good cover version? I think it's the unexpected, the sense of surprise. We like to hear fresh exciting things, however, as we've seen from the examples, it can sometimes be hard to accept anything else when the original is so engraved in our heads.