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Rate-O-Rama: Don't Be Cruel

Songmania: Edition #7

By Rick Henry Christopher Published 2 months ago β€’ 5 min read
Top Story - October 2023
Elvis Presley, The Judds, Cheap Trick

Rate-O-Rama : Songmania is a reader participation game.

Every Sunday I will publish a Rate-O-Rama article which will feature three versions of a popular song.

The object is to listen to each of the music videos provided within the post.

After listening to each video you can rate each song in the comments section below.

(You must be a member to comment. If you are not a member you can join Vocal Media for FREE. You don’t ever have to pay for membership unless you choose to upgrade your membership)


The rating method is easy. Simply give each song a rating of 1 to 100.

(The more you like the song the higher the rating).

If possible, please provide a brief comment explaining the reasoning behind your ratings for each song.

After a week (Saturday evening) I will tally the ratings and in the next Rate-O-Rama post I will announce the winner from the previous post.

The winners will be determined on a scale of averages.

If you wish to receive a notice when the next Rate-O-Rama post is published please mention that you would like a notification in the comments section.


The Raffle!!!

I am taking the Rate-O-Rama series to the next level. At the end of each month I will do a raffle in which the winner will win a $5.00 tip.

To enter all you have to do is participate in playing the Rate-O-Rama game. Since R-O-R is updated every Sunday night in order to qualify you must play the game during it's initial seven day period with Sunday evening being the cutoff period.

For each game you play you will receive a ticket for the raffle. Therefore if you play all four games in the month you will have four chances to win.

The winner will not only win the $5 prize but I will feature your Vocal Profile on Vocal + Assist on both Facebook and Discord and you will be featured in the first R-O-R game of the month after your win.

The September 2023 Rate-O-Rama Raffle Winner:


Last week we featured the funk and soul classic "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" as recorded by Stevie Wonder (1970), Peter Frampton (1977), and Blue (2003).

The following are the average ratings for each song as resulted from the votes:

πŸ₯‡ Stevie Wonder: 97.1

πŸ₯ˆ Blue: 82.8

πŸ₯‰ Peter Frampton: 77.3


The Seventh Edition of Rate-O-Rama features three renditions of the rock and roll classic: "Don't Be Cruel."


Elvis Presley (1956)

Otis Blackwell, the man who wrote "Don't Be Cruel" wrote many other classics including "Fever," "Great Balls of Fire," "Breathless," "All Shook Up," "Return to Sender," and one of my favorites "Handy Man" along with several other great hits. "Don't Be Cruel" was one of his first songwriting successes.

Elvis Presley took the song and turned it into an instant classic reaching #1 in the US for 11 weeks in 1956. By 1961 the song had sold more than six million copies.


The Judds (1987)

"Don't Be Cruel" was the lead single from their third studio album, the platinum selling Heartland. The song made it to #10 on the US Country charts breaking a string of eight consecutive #1 country hits.

The Judds were privileged to showcase the renowned vocal quartet, The Jordanaires, known for their iconic backing of Elvis Presley.


Cheap Trick (1988)

"Don't Be Cruel" was Cheap Trick's second of three consecutive Top 40 hits in the US, Canada, and New Zealand. After listening to hundreds of demo tapes for a song to follow-up their #1 hit "The Flame" someone in their circle suggested "Don't Be Cruel." The suggestion ended up being fruitful as the song made it to #4 on charts in the US and Australia and #2 in Canada as well as #6 in New Zealand.


My Thoughts


Elvis Presley: Really must we go any further than Elvis? It's all there: the energetic beat, great guitars, Bill Black's bass line, clever lyrics, the infectious harmony vocals of the Jordanaires, and the ever recognizable voice of Elvis Presley. The rockabilly feel of this song is great. I like pretty much everything Elvis released in the 1950s, especially the upbeat songs. I give this 100.


The Judds: Wynona and ❀️ Naomi ❀️ excelled with their tight familial vocal harmonies. I enjoy the way they briefly transformed the song into a ballad at the beginning, followed by a tempo increase that really kicks the song into high gear. Wynona's lead vocals are skillfully executed, and I particularly admire how the Jordanaires faithfully recreated Elvis's original backing vocals. I give The Judds a 99.


Cheap Trick: It's hard to ruin a great song and Cheap Trick more than does the song justice. There's a lot I like about Cheap Trick's rendition. First I love how they replicate the Jordanaires' backing vocals with a little bit of spark added to the mix. The music video makes it look like it's a female quartet but to me it sounds like the guys from Cheap Trick. Robin Zander's lead vocal is electrifying. I have always been a big fan of his voice. Rick Nielsen's guitar solos really rock the song. But it's Bun E. Carlos on the drums that steals the show. Oh and did I mention the music video is great. I love this rendition as much as the other two and give it a 99.


I will be back next week with the results of this Rate-O-Rama Edition.

Last Week's Rate-O-Rama:

With Love, RHC ❀️

rocksong reviewspop culturepophistoryfeaturecountryalt rock80s music60s music

About the Creator

Rick Henry Christopher

Writing is a distraction for me. It takes me to places unknown that fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and a soothing of the breaks and bruises of the day.

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Comments (24)

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  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    THis is fun! Though my son is glowering at me from across the room now. Not wholly my cup of tea, any of these versions, but maybe that makes them easier to rate. I am going Elivs - 75 - catchy, great rhythm, has a bit of body, but I was bored by the end. THe Judds - 60 - it was very well executed, great voices, but it felt like background music ultimately. Cheap Trick - 30 - disappointingly shallow delivery.

  • Scott Christenson2 months ago

    The 'great story' bots in the comment section who are not rating the songs when the title is "rate-o-rama' hahaha Not my fav Elvis song tbh (give me Suspicious Minds any day) so I'd have to say the 80s rock sound of Cheap Trick was the most enjoyable: Elvis 50 Judds 50 Cheap Trick 60 .

  • Naveed2 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story

  • JBaz2 months ago

    This was a lot tougher than I thought. At first …Elvis , no brainer. Then I listen to the other renditions, neither of which I heard before. All awesome. Congratulations Rick

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Elvis, Elvis, Elvis 100% Congratulations on Top Story!!!πŸ’•β€οΈβ€οΈ

  • Phil Flannery2 months ago

    Okay. Great concept and congratulations on getting top story. It is a close run thing, these three choices. Neither covers are so different that it changes the original song, like so many covers often try. 90 for Cheap Trick. It's my era and they paid great tribute to Elvis. 89 for Elvis. It was the original, so it set the standard 88 for the Judds. Sorry the country twang doesn't do it for me. I hope this fits the competition criteria

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    All great song choices! Congrats on TS!

  • Mariann Carroll2 months ago

    Congrats On Top Story !!!!!

  • The Dani Writer2 months ago

    A great concept here Rick! I've probably seen this before but I'm sorting out my 'mind mush' and don't remember commenting. So keep makin' ya Mama proud!

  • Elvis - 95 - The Judds - 100 Cheap Trick - 90 A song I’m surprised I’ve never heard before! What a beautiful choice, such an uplifting message. I really loved the Judds smooth version and feel it deserves top place. Elvis is definitely a close second. I wasn’t as taken with Cheap Trick, although there is nothing to fault. It just wasn’t so much for me. I could listen to The Flame on repeat for hours, however! (And I did when I was a kid… this is the music I grew up loving! All the 80s love songs)

  • StoryholicFinds2 months ago

    Love it ❀️

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    Elvis - 100 The king. I love the rhythm of this, the depth of his voice, the bass and it is such a sound of its era from its tone that it is the best here. The Judds 85 Completely new to me and I really liked the way it started but when it became more bouncy, I think it lost something; like Elvis Lite. Still a good tune though Cheap Trick - 70. It's alright. The essence is there and if you hadn't heard the first two, you might rate it more highly but I think this is the weakest of the lot. Enjoyed this rate-o-rama!

  • Cheap Trick- 100 Elvis- 90 Judd-95

  • Awesome and Congratulations on your Top StoryπŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰βœŒοΈπŸ˜‰

  • Kelsey Clarey2 months ago

    Elvis: 95. Not really much to critique here, he's The King. The Judds: 87. It's very pretty. I love the harmony between their voices. But I feel like it's lacking some of the energy I expect from this song. Cheap Trick: 99. Might be a controversial opinion, but I think I like this one better than Elvis. I just love the energy they bring to it!

  • Mariann Carroll2 months ago

    100% Elvis , 80% The Judds and 70% Cheap Trick. I did not know their was other versions to this song. I might create a story from this song . πŸ’•This was fun

  • D. A. Ratliff2 months ago

    Elvis Pressley: An iconic song from an iconic entertainer. I agree with one commenter that his voice had much better tonal quality later in his career, but this song is fun, energetic, and pure Elvis. 100 The Judds: I enjoyed the cover. They were always pleasant to listen to with their gorgeous harmonies, and loved the Jordanaires giving an Elvis nostalgia to the song. 95 Cheap Trick: I haven't listened to much of their music but was pleasantly surprised at this cover. It was much better than I expected. 85

  • Elvis Presley: 80 The Judds: 60 Cheap Trick: 90 I like Cheap Tricks version the most because I liked the music more than the other two. Sorry Elvis fans. Please don't attack me

  • Elvis 100 (He's Elvis, c'mon.) The Judds 99 (great cover) Cheap Trick 99 (I agree with you completely on all three)

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    Elvis: 95 - And that's from a person that wasn't an early Elvis fan. He just made the song his own. -5 points for the lack of tonal quality that his voice had later. The Judds: 60 - I'm giving them 10 points for the original opening, but I've never really been a fan and this cover didn't change my mind. Cheap Trick: 85 - Interestingly, it's Zander's voice that detracts from it, for me. Other than that, it's solid.

  • Lamar Wiggins2 months ago

    The original is still the best. It’s energetic, sexy and upbeat. The Judds didn’t do anything for me πŸ˜‚. It was kind of a sleeper. I felt myself daydreaming about other things while listening to it. Cheap trick did a great job. I like how they enhanced the rockabilly feel to it with the twanginess of the guitars and solid beat. Elvis -90 The Judds - 65 Cheap trick - 81 wait this is the band that wrote The Dream Police. Extra point + 1 = 82

  • Rene Peters2 months ago

    Elvis - 95, sounds amazing but I'm not a huge fan of funk usually The Judds - 100, sounds incredible and I like the country take on it Cheap Trick - 90, sounds really good but the vocals don't match up with the music in my opinion

  • Mother Combs2 months ago

    Elvis - 100 Judds - 99 Cheap Trick - 98 My dog Frodo, danced to Elvis and ran away when I played the Judds.

  • J. S. Wade2 months ago

    Love all 3 takes but first impressions are everything. Elvis - 100 - The Elvis energy makes this song. The Judds - 70 - A total different feel and lovely harmonies. Love their voices but a bit croonie. Cheap Trick - 75 Excellent cover and fun.

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