Stunning in their compositions and captivating in their storylines, David Bowie songs make for the ultimate listening experience. It seems only natural his iconic catalog would inspire a cover or two. Well, try hundreds.
Videos by American Songwriter
Videos by American Songwriter
Bowie’s expansive and far-reaching repertoire has sparked many a re-imagining. Below are 10 noteworthy covers of the legend’s songs.
1. Nirvana – “The Man Who Sold The World”
From their iconic MTV Unplugged performance from 1993, Nirvana deliver on the Bowie classic “The Man Who Sold The World.” Frontman Kurt Cobain’s raspy, cracked tenor seems the perfect vehicle for the song, played below in a spellbinding mix of strings.
2. My Chemical Romance and The Used – “Under Pressure”
The great Bowie-Queen collab “Under Pressure” gets a pop-punk makeover by My Chemical Romance with The Used. Their rendition packs the punch of the original with vocals and power chords reminiscent of early 2000s emo.
3. Mipso – “Modern Love”
While this Mipso cover of “Modern Love” could never touch the original, it still manages to hold its own among Bowie re-imaginings. The sweet vocals, weightless harmonies, and stripped back arrangement make for a striking rendition.
4. Beck – “Sound and Vision”
Beck’s orchestral take on “Sound and Vision” is haunting, a stark contrast to Bowie’s brightly bouncing song. Flooded with vocals from the accompanying hallelujah chorus, it is a masterpiece of a cover full of dramatics that likely would have made the legend proud.
5. Peter Gabriel – “Heroes”
Peter Gabriel takes a page from Beck’s book of Bowie re-imaginings. His live rendition of “Heroes” is a symphonic delight. The building orchestra paired with Gabriel’s stunning vocals make for a goosebump-inducing cover of a Bowie classic.
6. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – “Rebel, Rebel”
Where the Blackhearts give the tune a jangle, Joan Jett doesn’t alter much of Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel.” A cover doesn’t have to be completely re-invented. Jett knows the power of the tune and holds to a similar attitude that makes the song what it is.
7. Trey Songz – “Life On Mars?”
Featured on the soundtrack for the HBO series Vinyl, Trey Songz’s version of “Life On Mars?” is another that doesn’t stray far from the blueprint. The artist gives the tune an R&B flair but sticks to the magic that makes the song so memorable.
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Suffragette City”
The Red Hot Chili Peppers deliver a hardened version of Bowie’s “Suffragette City.” The original is brightened by the accompaniment of keys. That is thrown out the window with RHCP’s take, which can sound muddied at times with blasting drum hits and thrashing guitar. However, the band makes the song their own, crafting a hard-driving, head-banging rendition for all the alt-rock Bowieheads out there.
9. The Flaming Lips – “Space Oddity”
Bowie paved the way for eccentric bands like The Flaming Lips to flourish. Their homage to The Oddfather in the form of a “Space Oddity” rendition is one for the ages. The Flaming Lips make the Bowie classic somehow even spacier, adding sounds reminiscent of rocket launches, stratospheric voyages, and zero gravity strolls.
10. Sharon Van Etten – “Starman”
Featured on the soundtrack to Netflix’s Return To Space, Sharon Van Etten’s take on “Starman” is out-of-this-world. The bewitching rendition is punctuated by spacey synths and Van Etten’s airy words, a mind-melting combination for a spellbinding re-imagining.
Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images