RetroCrush: “100 Worst Cover Songs” of All-Time

Pop culture oasis RetroCrush has compiled its list of The 100 Worst Cover Songs ever, and quite a few of them are the result of cross-contamination between country music and other genres. I actually like a lot of the following records, but I’ll pass on the RC judgments without adding my own. Here are the country-related entries:

#3 Dolly Parton, “Stairway to Heaven”

Wow! Here’s another one that just pains me to include on the list because I think Dolly Parton is one of the most amazing singer/songwriters that’s ever lived, but what the hell was she thinking taking on this uncoverable song? Nobody could do this song justice, and her sappy bluegrass arrangement is almost unbearable to listen to.

#7 Olivia Newton-John, “Ring of Fire”

Let me make it clear that I still have a super crush on Olivia Newton-John, and it pains me to speak ill of her, which should tell you her “Ring of Fire” cover must really suck hard for me to put it on this list. I saw this on iTunes years back and I laughed with a “there’s no way in hell she actually recorded that.” I wish I didn’t let my curiosity get the best of me. Hell, how could this angel who brought us, “Magic”, “Hopelessly Devoted To You”, and even “Xanadu” (I told you I was a forgiving fan) give us this monstrosity? It’s a song of pain and loss and agony that she turns into a goddamn square dance.

#10 Faith Hill, “Piece of My Heart”

Great job taking a song by one of the all time kick ass great rock vocalists and turning it into a sugar coated commercial for some new wonder drug. Is Faith Hill really even a country singer? She’s pretty much just Amy Grant with a cowboy hat.

#54 Conway Twitty, “Slow Hand”

Another one of those “Switch the Gender” cover songs that just doesn’t work out. The Pointer Sisters nailed it right the first time. Why on earth Conway Twitty, of all people, thought he should give this a try is a mystery that still plagues mankind (and my ears).

#72 Dixie Chicks, “Landslide”

Love the girls, but hate hate hate this version of the song. Just a soul free by the numbers walk through it cover. The Smashing Pumpkins did a much better version

#77 Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”

This is one of those famous covers that most people figure was the original version of the tune. Whitney Houston over sings the hell out of this sweet Dolly Parton tune, and the tacky dame forgot to thank her when she won a Grammy for it.


One tremendous stinker that they left off of this list, perhaps because they’ve never heard it: David Kersh, “Wonderful Tonight.” Good Lord, that one was a train wreck, though Alan Jackson proved it could make a darn good country song when done right.





  1. “Stairway To Heaven” was covered , brilliantly, by Australian Rolf Harris – he even took it into the Top 10 in the UK . Anyone who’s ever heard Rolf’s version can never again listen to any other version without breaking up

    Also, having heard Roger Miller’s original hit recording of the Kristofferson classic on “Me and Bobbie McGee” , I always felt Janis Joplin murdered the song

    “Slow Hand” was garbage no matter who recorded it

    “Ring of Fire” was released in the UK by Burl Ives – a pretty decent cover but I don’t think it was released in the USA

  2. She’s pretty much just Amy Grant with a cowboy hat.

    And we have a winner! The “with a cowboy hat” part could even be cut from that statement, starting with Hill’s third album.

    Kristofferson’s songs are so robust that I think it would take a special brand of un-talent to murder one of them, and the vast majority of the artists who’ve most famously covered his songs are first-rate interpretive singers.

    Good pick up on the David Kersh cut, too, Kevin. There are also plenty of choices from the trend of B-and-lower-list male stars covering terrible R&B ballads– Kevin Sharp’s “Nobody Knows” or, even worse, Mark Wills’ “Back at One.” It even works in the opposite direction: I’m no fan of John Michael Montgomery’s, but All 4 One’s covers of “I Swear” and “I Can Love You Like That” are both nearly unlistenable.

    More recently, Big & Rich’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” is a great example of how an ironic cover choice can really get away from an act with a tenuous hold on irony.

  3. Ugh, I forgot that Mark Wills covered “Back at One.” Which made me remember he also covered Brandy’s “Almost Doesn’t Count.” Good God, those were bad records.

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