5 Most Needless Song Updates
We got into rock journalism from being a local musician, so we understand both sides of the industry pretty well. We've recorded songs that later-on we wish we'd done very differently, and the temptation to go back and re-try for perfection can be very overpowering. Take it from us, though, do not freakin' do it. There is almost no way you're going to accomplish what you set out to do.
Of the many who've tried, here are the five worst offenders.
Bon Fuckin' Jovi... He made Winger look metal, starred in Ally McBeal, and has somehow managed to remain on top with huge tours and platinum albums. We stopped being a Satanist the day we realized that the Jove must in fact be the Devil himself, as there is no other explanation for his continued success. "Livin on a Prayer" is one of his biggest hits, and in 1994 he reworked it into a semi-acoustic monstrosity called "Prayer '94" for his Cross Road collection.
Honestly, the song isn't terrible, and Jovi takes some interesting twists on its performance, but he insists on singing it the exact same way he'd done in the past, which makes the whole thing seem more like a money-play that a man coming to a different conclusion about his work. That and the fact that simplifying the song just makes you realize how unbearably cheesy the lyrics were to begin with.
An update on the signature tune from the Rocky Horror Picture Show was heavily anticipated for the new millennium, and supposedly had the blessing of Richard O'Brien himself up to the inclusion of a cut from his solo record as a B-side. Vinal Edge was the only place in Houston where we could net a copy, and frankly the CD didn't even make it all the way home before we threw it out the window.
We were expecting something rockier, something with a little more distortion in the guitars and bass in the voices. We were expecting something hard, sexy, and throbbing. Instead we ended up with a half-assed electronic effort that would clear a dance-floor faster than a round of free drinks. Why on Earth they would even try that is beyond us since a definitive dance version was already out there courtesy of Damian.
To this day, we think the music video for "Unforgiven" is the greatest one ever made. As a child we spent hours re-watching a VHS recording we'd made trying to piece the story and meaning together, and we're still not sure that we've figured it out.
"Unforgiven II" wasn't nearly as good, but still had a lot going for it. The video was fairly mindbending, the lyrics top notch, and time to reflect has led us to believe that Reload is a much tighter album and better sound than we'd given it credit for in the beginning. Call "Unforgiven II" the Kill Bill Vol. II to "Unforgiven's" Kill Bill Vol. I.
Death Magnetic's attempt to continue the series starts out strong, and seems like it's really going to shake things up, but where before James Hetfield was able to spell-bind during his verses he now just phones in a bare sound not at all in keeping with the epic tradition set forth. Keeping the film analogy, "Unforgiven III" is like one of those direct-to-video Crow movies staring Edward Furlong.
Has any song ever had the power of "Layla?" With its indescribable energy and sweeping instrumental ending it may be the perfect rock song. We would never take that away from Clapton, but his acoustic version is simply awful. In the end it plays like Randy Newman wrote the damn thing for the latest Pixar film.
Its biggest sin though is not in its own poor execution and pointlessness. In 1992 Clapton won a Best Rock Song Grammy for this thing. You know who he beat? Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," a song that literally changed music as we knew it for the next decade. That's the Grammys for you, and we swear if we ever win one we're flying to Las Vegas the next day to make a very interesting episode of Pawn Stars specifically because of shit like this.
Most people have heard the eurodance meets bluegrass cover of "Cottton Eyed Joe" by the Swedish band the Rednex. We had no idea that they were and are still huge in Europe with plenty of Top 40 hits that are good cheesy fun. We confess we've been unable to stop listening to them all week.
In 2002 the band updated their cover, and in this list they are unique in that just watching the official video makes us retroactively decree the original to be needless. We don't care if it throws every shred of the journalistic integrity we work so hard to pretend to care about out of the window, that shit up there looks like an awesome party, and kudos to the Rednex for actually updating in a way to outdo themselves.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.