The '90s Cover Song That Never Should Have Happened

For as long as popular music has been a thing, musicians have been performing and recording songs that were previously associated with another artist. Known as "covers," these songs often race to the top of the charts, and sometimes, music fans don't even know the song they're hearing is a cover. YouTube is filled with videos and playlists with titles like "Songs You Didn't Know Were Covers."

The decade of the 1990s saw its own share of covers, with artists repackaging everything from obscure songs that flew under the radar when originally released, to covers of mega-hits that topped the charts on their first release.

However, not every music fan is on board with covers; or at the very least, they believe that the artist who recorded the cover didn't do the original justice. Grunge asked 600 U.S.-based readers which '90s cover song should have never happened, and the responses range all over the musical map of the decade.

Pearl Jam's kiss wasn't their last

The 1990s will forever be associated with grunge, the Seattle-based style of music that focused on a more "raw" rock sound that stood in sharp contrast to the arena-friendly, often polished rock and heavy metal of the previous decade.

Pearl Jam ticked off all of the boxes that defined a grunge act: They were from Seattle, their lyrics were moody, their sound relied heavily on distortion. Yet for some reason, in 1998 they recorded a cover of a radio-friendly 1960s ballad about the death of the singer's girlfriend. "Last Kiss" was originally recorded in 1961 by Wayne Cochran, but it failed to go anywhere, according to VH-1. A subsequent version, released in 1964 by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, made it all the way to #2 on the charts, and became a forever hit.

Pearl Jam's cover makes few changes to the original. Other than Eddie Vedder's brooding vocals, a reliance on distorted guitar, and some minor changes to tempo, Pearl Jam's cover is almost a note-for-note copy of the original.

Still, our readers are generally fond of this remake: only 13% said this remake should have never happened.

Our readers gave Jeff Buckley a hallelujah

Not unlike "Last Kiss," Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" also failed to go anywhere when it was originally released, in 1984, according to Billboard. Also like "Last Kiss," it initially found chart success when covered by an intermediary artist, in this case John Cale, according to The Telegraph. With Cohen's help, Cale made some changes to the lyrics, and Cale's version became the basis for subsequent covers.

Multiple artists have recorded the song, including Rufus Wainwright, whose cover appears on the "Shrek" soundtrack, as well as k.d. Lang, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and of course, Jeff Buckley, whose cover may be the most well-known of all. Buckley's version might also be the most mournful, according to the BBC, and Buckley himself described it as "a hallelujah to the orgasm."

Grunge fans are generally pleased with Buckley's cover, as only 13.33% of poll respondents said it should have never happened.

Our readers are torn about Natalie Imbruglia

In what is starting to emerge as a pattern, the original "Torn," according to Global Music Pulse, originally went nowhere when it was first recorded. In 1993, it was translated into Danish and recorded by Danish singer Lis Sørensen as "Brændt" ("Burned"), becoming a smash hit in Denmark. In 1995 it was recorded by U.K.-based Edenswap, but failed to chart. In 1996 American-Norwegian singer Trine Rein took a shot at it, and also failed to take it anywhere.

Enter Australia's Natalie Imbruglia, who recorded the song in 1997, and from there, it became a worldwide smash. Imbruglia was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, although she lost to Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," according to the Grammy Awards' website.

Unfortunately for Natalie, she never replicated the success of "Torn," effectively becoming a one-hit wonder, according to PopSugar. Grunge readers are willing to look past the one-hit-wonder-ness of it all: 15.17% of our poll respondents said this cover never should have happened.

Our readers are killing the Fugees softly

Back in 1971, Lori Lieberman was attending a Don McLean concert. When the "American Pie" singer began singing the ballad "Empty Chairs," Lieberman "pulled out a napkin and starting [sic] scribbling notes," a friend told The Washington Post. Those notes became "Killing Me Softly," one of the biggest hits of the 1970s.

Unfortunately, it was a hit for an artist not named Lori Lieberman. Instead, Roberta Flack's version of the song became a smash hit, with whom it will probably forever be associated. Making matters worse for Lieberman, she wasn't given songwriting credit, and as such, didn't get any of the royalties that the song and its cover versions generated.

On the topic of cover versions, New Jersey-based band The Fugees (or sometimes just Fugees) recorded their own cover of the song in 1996, according to The Boombox, sampling "Bonita Applebum" by A Tribe Called Quest, which itself was inspired by a 1967 song. "Killing Me Softly" peaked at #1 on the U.S. charts. Grunge fans, however, aren't as impressed: 15.67% say it's the '90s cover song that should have never been recorded.

Our readers won't always love Whitney Houston

Unlike other songs on this list, Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" was an instant smash from the beginning, and didn't need other artists to turn it into a hit. As The Tennessean reported, Parton wrote the song while she was still working on country legend Porter Wagoner's self-titled TV show. Parton wanted to move on in her career, while Wagoner wasn't so sure. "How am I gonna make him understand how much I appreciate everything, but that I have to go?," she said, noting that she decided to do what she did best, which was write a song. The bittersweet goodbye tune did, in fact, convince Wagoner to let Parton go.

If its initial success wasn't good enough, the song exploded again in 1992 when it was sung by Whitney Houston on the soundtrack to the film "The Bodyguard," in which she also starred. According to Billboard, it spent a record-setting 14 weeks at #1 on the charts.

However, Grunge readers are content to let Dolly Parton bask in the song's glory, as 16.33% said Houston's should have never been recorded.

Nothing compares 2 the Prince original

Sinead O'Connor will, for better or for worse, likely be most remembered for the incident in 1992 in which she tore up a photo of then-pope John Paul II, live in front of millions of viewers, on "Saturday Night Live." In one fell swoop, her music career was all but over. Prior to that incident, O'Connor had been known primarily for her smash hit, "Nothing Compares 2 U."

Though it wasn't widely known at the time, the song was actually a cover. As Pitchfork reported, Prince wrote and recorded the song eight years prior, back in 1984. Specifically, he recorded it for his side project, The Family, and it was released on the band's self-titled debut album. The song garnered little notice at the time, but became a worldwide smash when O'Connor recorded it.

Whether because of the infamy associated with O'Connor, or because they simply don't like it, Grunge readers, by a clear plurality, believe that this song did not need a cover, with 26.5% saying it should have never been recorded.