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11 cover versions that prove the 1990s ruined music

It wasn’t all dance tunes and Oasis cassettes you know.

The lads.
The lads.
Image: Peter Jordan/PA Archive/Press Association Images via Press Association

THIS WEEK ONE Direction’s cover of Blondie’s One Way or Another leaked on the internet, to the outrage of their fans. And people who happen to like the original.

Pop acts butchering other songs is hardly anything new, but the 1990s threw up some particularly ropey numbers that deserved to be remembered and then forgotten. Forever.

1. PJ & Duncan – Stepping Stone

Remember the PJ & Duncan days?

They parlayed Byker Grove into a pop career before finding their feet as TV presenters and even found time to record this dreadful take on Stepping Stone, a 1960s rock tune made famous by the The Monkees.

Oh dear.

antandecfan12 / YouTube

2. B*Witched, Steps, Cleopatra, Billie Piper & Tina Cousins – Thank ABBA for the Music

Nothing like a medley to really stick the boot in a some pop giants. This medley/cover mash-up of Abba’s biggest hits was performed by 90s pop stalwarts at the 1999 Brit Awards to tie in with the debut of Mamma Mia!

It was also released as a single that broke the top five in Ireland and England.

It’s pretty awful but covers so much ground in four minutes that it’s oddly commendable.

(And for some reason the only video for it online syncs it up with the original Abba videos. Controversial)

AandriesH / YouTube

3. 911 – More Than A Woman

The poor Bee Gees! It seems that every second 90s pop act wanted to nab one of their classic hits to make their own mark.

Step up then, 911 the 90s boyband time forgot (They’re now appearing on ITV2′s Big Reunion alongside a bunch of other once famous acts) who managed one of their biggest hits with this totally pedestrian cover.

Bonus points for shooting a fancy black and white video and then mainly show the boys play card games. How edgy.

halaryloha / YouTube

4. Jason Donovan – Any Dream Will Do

The fact that this spent two weeks at number one in the UK singles chart in 1991 is a testament to the once large appeal of Jason and the fact that a big act can really release any old tat and do well.

Given that Donovan was playing Joeseph in a West End version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, this isn’t technically a “cover version”.

But the fact that it was released as a single and allowed to be an actual thing is reason enough for us to include it here. Now enjoy Jason warbling his way through it on Top of the Pops. Shudder.

mymusicfootage / YouTube

5. Madonna – Fever

Madonna rarely does cover versions and we’re thinking it’s because when she does they are dreadful. Years before she butchered American Pie, she had a semi-hit with this dance take on the jazz standard (the most famous version by Peggy Lee is in fact a cover itself).

It’s a nice idea but the whole thing has aged terribly and Madonna sounds like she’s talking more than she’s singing. The over-the-top video is also something of a nightmare. Oh dear.

madonnasick / YouTube

6. East 17 – West End Girls

They were the bad boys of 90s pop so the idea that in 1993 East 17 would tackle the seminal Pet Shop Boys hit from the 80s is still baffling.

What’s hilarious is watching the boys do their best “I’m well hard” talking bits on the verses, but sing the hook just like the original. They’ve also added a few scratching vinyl sound effects to really amp up the edginess too.

This really needs to be seen to be believed.

CampinaStar / YouTube

7. Steps – Tragedy

There’s cheese and then there is cheese. Step’s take on the Bee Gees disco classic became a signature song for the group thanks to some simple dance moves and a campy video that made Coronation Street look positively Shakespearean.

A quick re-watch will remind you just how poor this is but it’s so awful it has a certain hypnotic charm.

StepsVevo / YouTube

8. Take That – How Deep Is Your Love?

This cover of How Deep Is Your Love? was the last single the band released until their return as a four piece in 2006.

It’s a stinker for how it does very little new to an original. It sounds like four uninterested guys doing bad karaoke on a sun holiday. There’s also an utterly creepy video with an obsessed fan kidnapping them and accidentally killing Gary. Really, lads? Really?

TakeThatVevo / YouTube

9. Robson & Jerome – Unchained Melody

This soul-pop standard is best known when performed by the Righteous Brothers but has been covered numerous times.

None more odd than the take by TV favourites turned pop stars Robson & Jerome.

This version of the song was performed on their popular TV series Soldier, Soldier and on the advice of music executive Simon Cowell (imagine that) was released, topping the UK charts for seven weeks and selling 1.8 million copies.

It’s also absolutely dreadful, a tinny, unimaginative cover the success of which remains baffling.

Benetomm / YouTube

10. All Saints – Under The Bridge

Before an ill-fated comeback in the 2006 All Saints had a successful run in the late 90s.

They did drop the ball however on this would-be smooth take on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ classic.

Speedygi / YouTube

11. Boyzone – Father and Son

If there’s anything more joyless than Ronan Keating and four backing singers bleating their way through a dull cover of a 70s easy-listening smash we’ve yet to hear it (Interestingly, Keating and Stevens did a duet on the song in 2006).

Also honourable mention to their also-dreadful cover of Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You two years later.

Mind you the Father & Son video is actually hilarious so it’s worth a rewatch. (Ronan’s hair!)

BoyzoneVevo / YouTube

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