Earlier this month, Dolly Parton surprised many by asking to have her name removed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nomination ballot, saying she shouldn’t be considered because she has yet to produce a rock album.
Unlike the beloved country star, a number of performers with no rock music experience have made strange and often surprising forays into the rock genre. For your listening pleasure (or sorrow, depending on your level of masochism), here’s our pick of what might be the 10 weirdest rock covers of all time.
Judy Garland sings “The Purple People Eater”: The iconic star walked through the wrong rainbow trying to master at Sheb Wooley 1958 novelty rock. Garland prefixed his song with a rambling monologue about then-popular horror films before running through the story of “the one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people-eater”.
Frank Sinatra singing “Mrs. Robinson”: Simon & Garfunkel’s haunting song about emotional isolation was spoiled by Sinatra in 1969 with a ring-a-ding-ding big band arrangement and a silly rewrite of the lyrics that included a switch from “Jesus” to “Jilly” (a scream at the Sinatra’s friend, restaurateur Jilly Rizzo) and the rude question “So, how’s your bird, Mrs. Robinson?” »
Jim Nabors singing “Listen to the band”: Well, damn it, the old Gomer Pyle turned up the volume on his baritone in 1969 to desecrate the Michael Nesmith-writes the Monkees rock standard. Nesmith would not have known about this recording until many years later, but by then the damage had already been done.
Raquel Welch sings “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In”: In 1969, The fifth dimension scored a hit by combining the songs “The Age of Aquarius” and “Let the Sunshine In” into one track. The next year, Raquel Welch borrowed the concept for her TV special “Raquel!” However, the production number designed to showcase Welch’s cover was…well, if you’ve never seen it before, buckle up your seatbelt for a trip to the decade good taste forgot:
Barbara Eden sings “Spinning Wheel”: Also in 1970, the former “I Dream of Jeannie” star wanted to show off his rock music abilities (among other things) in this twisting cover of the blood sweat tears classic. Although Eden’s vocalization never captures the grit of the original recording, her visual performance is certainly an ideal treat for tween boys and jaded middle-aged men.
Sandy Duncan and Paul Lynde singing “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”: Another pit stop in 1970s kitsch television hell was this riff on the Jim Croce anthem, with campy comedian Lynde interrupting the music to drop one-liners with heartbreaking noises. They don’t do stuff like that anymore – thank goodness.
Bert Parks sings “Let Em In”: For reasons that will probably never be properly explained, someone thought it was a good idea to suspend the television broadcast of the 1976 Miss America Pageant, so that Bert Parks could do a revival of by Paul McCartney “Let ‘Em In” with three male dancers behind it. No one remembers who was crowned Miss America that year, but fans of bad music remember Parks’ astonishing number.
Alvin and the Chipmunks sing “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”: The squeaky-voiced cartoon characters had previously released albums based on Beatles songs and musical scores from movies, but for this episode of their TV show, they turned their attention to the Wang Chung adjust. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea.
Matthew Morrison sings “A Little Less Conversation”: In this episode of “Glee”, Morrison’s Will Schuester brings in a mariachi band, dresses like a matador and sings by Elvis Presley “A Little Less Conversation” in English and Spanish while two of his students dress up as bulls and pretend to charge him. Even by tacky “Glee” standards, it was a real dropper.
the_miracle_aligner Singing “Never Gonna Give You Up”: Have you ever thought what it would be like to be Rick-Rolled in Old English? A performer calling himself “the_miracle_aligner” has produced a number of rock favorites in archaic versions of living languages, including this galloping translation of the Rick Asley favorite – which includes one of the most annoying music videos of all time, but we’ll save the discussion on that for another article.
Photo: Screenshot of Matthew Morrison singing “A Little Less Conversation” on “Glee,” courtesy of 20th Television.