11 Pop Songs Skillfully Covered by Hard Rock Bands
I was in my office the other day listening to Hellyeah’s version of “I Don’t Care Anymore” and my officemate and I started discussing other great cover songs done by bands you wouldn’t expect, which prompted this list… 11 Pop Songs Skillfully Covered by Hard Rock Bands.
Sound of Silence
Although Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” has also been covered by Nevermore and Bobaflex, the rendition done by Disturbed in 2017 comes to mind as one of the best, and if YouTube views are any indication, the most widely appreciated.
Most people who enjoy Disturbed’s music would not say they were Tears for Fears fans, if they were even born when the original version of “Shout” invaded radio in 1985, but you can’t deny there’s something infectious about this updated version from Disturbed’s 2000 release “The Sickness”.
Land of Confusion
If some might be tempted to criticize Disturbed as unoriginal given their penchant for cover tunes (this is their third mention on this particular blog, after all), we should be equally prone to recognize Genesis and Phil Collins for their source material which seems so effortlessly covered. This Disturbed version of “Land of Confusion” is the first of three Genesis/Phil Collins numbers to make this list.
In the Air Tonight
I was conflicted on which cover version of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” to highlight here, but Nonpoint’s 2004 version was the first I ever heard, and I’m a big fan of lead vocalist Elias Soriano’s voice. For another excellent take on the song, check out In This Moment’s version.
I Don’t Care Anymore
It was 1982 when Phil Collins released the original version of “I Don’t Care Anymore” on his “Hello, I Must Be Going” album. Collins’ rhythmic inclinations dating to his days as Genesis’ drummer resulted in songs like 1981’s “In The Air Tonight” and “I Don’t Care Anymore” the following year — songs which lent themselves readily to makeovers from heavy bands like Hellyeah.
Seether’s relatively faithful adaptation of George Michael’s 1984 smash “Careless Whisper” is hard not to sing along to. And as much as we love a good saxophone hook, Shawn Morgan’s decision to give Seether’s version a guitar hook was the right choice.
In 2004, Korn included a cover version of Cameo’s “Word Up!” on their “Greatest Hits, Volume 1” CD, with Jonathan Davis saying “We’ve been doing ‘Word Up!’ for years as a sound-check song—not the full version, just messing around with the riff.”
Mushroomhead’s version of Seal’s “Crazy” might be the most unexpected entry on this list, and that’s saying something on a list that has Marilyn Manson covering Eurythmics. It’s sign of a great song when a track translates so easily between genres as it does here — from Seal’s electronic soul to Mushroomhead’s metal.
Foo Fighters released a cover version of Baker Street as the b-side to “My Hero” in 1997 (and in some countries, it was featured on the extended version of “The Colour and the Shape” album) and it’s another example of a classic saxophone hook replaced skillfully by a guitar transposition. The original version of “Baker Street” was released in 1978 by Gerry Rafferty, who until that time had been better known for “Stuck in the Middle with You” which he wrote and recorded with his old band, Stealer’s Wheel.
Marilyn Manson’s 1995 version of The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” was an MTV staple, a completely different take on the synth-laden original, and largely served to announce Manson’s arrival as an artist ready to shock and surprise us. In 2010, Manson’s version of “Sweet Dreams” was named the “scariest video of all time,” by Billboard. Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics has said he likes Manson’s rendition.
If someone has to make a cover version of Blondie’s 1980 smash “Call Me,” it might as well be In This Moment. Maria Brink’s voice is perfectly suited for the song, and she’s from the same school of subtly-trashy-but-platinum-blonde divadom as Debbie Harry.
There are so many more examples of pop songs covered by rock bands that I didn’t get to include here, but I’ll try to get to ’em next time. What are your suggestions? Please leave a comment.
Troy Larson is a father, author, and photographer originally from Minot, North Dakota, now residing in Fargo.