Bad R&B Covers: 10 Awful, Swag-Free Performances — Watch
People of all types are drawn to R&B music for its smooth, silken sexiness. The genre offers a variety of cathartic purposes. Songs from crooners and singers are perfect for wallowing in pain, professing love or letting a former flame know just what they lost. Although human beings universally experience these emotions, not all possess the ability to articulate them beautifully through lyrics. However, sometimes the sentiment is so strong that, regardless of talent, a person will do anything to express it.
Take a look at the 10 videos below to witness just that. Entertainers like Prince, John Legend, Lauryn Hill and Aaliyah are immensely talented yet the people who are covering their respective songs don’t match up to their greatness. They fail, miserably. Watch these renditions and you’ll realize singing these hits is no easy feat.
No offense to country music, Lynyrd Skynyrd renditions, long hair or acoustic guitars, but the whole point of Prince‘s sound was to draw a contrast to this genre. The Purple One draws a whole myriad of genres in his music, including blues and folk at some levels, but his incorporation of funk and psychedelic, specifically on Purple Rain, was what helped cement his place in musical history as an influential figure. Sorry country boy, but your cover robs this song of its glittering 1984 charm and bores us to tears.
First, do yourself a favor and go here to watch Aaliyah‘s original, smoking hot video that accompanied this song. Now, most people have experienced embarrassment because of their mother at some point, but the contrast between Aaliyah’s commanding presence and the off-pitch apathetic mom seems too large to go unnoticed. Doesn’t Baby Girl at least warrant standing up to belt out her hit? This lady needs to show some respect for the deceased legend of the ’90s.
As one of the artists who helped facilitate the crossover of funk music into greater pop culture, Rick James and his ’70s glitter, free-spirited attitude and long locks effortlessly made phrases like “give it to me baby” sound smooth. This rendition, aside from the cracked pitch of the performer’s voice, lacks all of the original suave and funk that James naturally channeled. This frat boy’s over-the-top rendition is pure pain to watch, but we can’t look away.
Out of all the musical genres, R&B might be the one that requires the most vocal prowess as far as dips, high notes, style and falsetto. When someone with a powerful voice like Monica‘s is navigating these peaks and valleys, anyone covering her songs needs to wow. Unfortunately, this guy’s musical theatre-styled voice isn’t cut out for the stylizations this song’s emotional content calls for. Speaking of which, does he even realize the implications of the lyrics? The weird setting of a hotel room and his attempts to project earnest feeling onto his face recall high school drama class.
These guys took one of the sexiest songs in the entire world and somehow made it completely devoid of any sensuality. At all. While John Legend‘s voice has been known to make women swoon upon contact, the only swooning going on in this cover is by the guys themselves. They think so highly of one another they tried to “remix” the song, however, the lackluster guitar playing, thin-voiced melody and weak MCing turns us off.
Beyonce‘s monumental track “Halo,” which was recently voted the best R&B song of the past 25 years by the popular music blog Grantland, is unequivocally regarded as one of her greatest efforts. That’s why it’s so disturbing to see it butchered, and in under two minutes, no less. How many times do we have to say it: if you’re not diva material, don’t attempt diva songs! A low point is when he misses cues to sing along with his own pre-recorded back-up harmonies. Bey would turn into Sasha Fierce if she saw this terrible rendition, and, his outfit is definitely not diva material.
7. Watch Jodeci’s “Come and Talk to Me” Covered With a Talkbox
There are those who seem oblivious to the fact that they lack any talent for singing, and then, there are those who know they do and try to compensate for it. This Jodeci cover features the latter, as this guy clearly couldn’t have covered the range of “Come and Talk to Me” without a talk box. Nothing contrasts better with Jodeci’s passionate music video than talk box guy awkwardly mouthing words into the tube and standing behind a keyboard. Enjoy the debacle above.
9. Watch an Amateur Rock Band Covering Omarion’s “Ice Box”
Omarion‘s explosive performance in “Icebox” proved that emotional R&B could still be manly. But this cover band trying to recreate that feeling proves most indie rock bands are still composed of boys, not men. Their hurried rendition of the lyrics doesn’t sound like rhythmic singing but frightened recitation of words they don’t quite understand. The punk rock-styled yelling comes off as whiny and the original subtlety of Omarion’s performance is totally lost. Still, making fun of an amateur rock band never gets old.
Originally made popular back in the early ’70s by Roberta Flack, The Fugees made “Killing Me Softly” relevant again in 1995, with Lauryn Hill belting out the lead vocals. Whichever version this poor girl encountered, she is about as close as it comes to actually channeling a vocal rendition so awful it creates pain and could lead to violence. To round out this list of horrible R&B covers, there’s nothing like a passionate little girl belting her favorite song with a fierceness that is so bad it might injure the listener.
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