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Although the world has just lost musical legend David Bowie, 69, on Sunday, his legacy lives on through his music.
A wide range of artists have paid tribute to the icon himself through covers of his music over the years. These covers capture the essence of his music, each with a personal artistic spin to them as well.
We’ve come up with a list celebrating some of the best and most unique Bowie covers out there. Check out the list below!
10. Golden Years by Marilyn Manson
Shock-rocker Marilyn Manson covered this 1976 tune by Bowie on his 1998 album Mechanical Animals. This cover has Manson’s signature dark, eerie, and edgy sound rather than Bowie’s original upbeat and funky sound. When you really think of it, Manson and Bowie have quite a bit in common: they both had a glam rock era, both went through phases of their performing career where they wore stage makeup, both have songs about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, and they both experienced an androgynous phase too. So it seems it’s only natural that he covered a Bowie classic!
9. Under Pressure by The Used and My Chemical Romance
In 2005, The Used and My Chemical Romance teamed up to cover this anthem, originally by David Bowie and Queen, in order to raise money for charity. Proceeds of the single were raised to help victims of the South Asian tsunami that happened the year before. The two bands played this cover live during the Taste of Chaos tour in 2005, later releasing a studio recorded version for the cause. My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way belts Freddie Mercury’s parts, while Bert McCracken, frontman of The Used, serenades listeners with David Bowie’s lines. The original artistic duo released Under Pressure in 1981.
8. Moonage Dream by The White Stripes
Nearly 20 years ago, The White Stripes covered this song live during a show at the Gold Dollar Bar in Detroit. This rare recording of the band is from a time when they were still trying to make it big in the music industry. Strangely enough, Jack White introduces his wife-at-the-time, Meg White, as his sister rather than spouse. Oh, and a crowd member audibly calls Jack a “weirdo.” Nevertheless, this is a raw, unpolished, grimy version of Moonage Dream, and we mean that in the best way possible.
7. Never Let Me Down by Spoon
This heartfelt rendition of the 1987 title track from Bowie was recorded by Spoon vocalist Britt Daniel upon hearing about the superstar’s death. In a Facebook post, Daniel states how he was shaken up and surprised by David Bowie’s passing, which inspired him to make this cover. This is his tribute, and it does the song justice for sure.
6. Space Oddity by Smashing Pumpkins
About 44 years after its release, Smashing Pumpkins covered David Bowie’s famous track, Space Oddity. Their interpretation of this song has been played on multiple occasions, including at a rooftop performance during the South by South West festival in 2013, and at the iHeartRadio Theater for Rock 105.3 radio in 2012. Since this song is about a doomed astronaut in peril on his space travels, Bowie used an abundance of cutting edge (for 1969) studio sound effects to simulate being in outer space. Smashing Pumpkins simulate those intergalactic sounds by using heavy distortion on their guitars, which adds their signature alternative rock flare to the song.
5. I’m Afraid of Americans by Nine Inch Nails
Lucky for Toronto concert-goers at a Nine Inch Nails show in 2009, Bowie’s I’m Afraid of Americans was covered during the show. Their cover actually sounds nearly identical to the original because Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor was involved in the creation of this original song. That’s where the industrial rock influence on the track stems from. When the song was created in 1996 for the 1997 Earthling album release, Nine Inch Nails actually helped produce this song. Reznor is even in Bowie’s music video for this song, and played guitar, bass, and drums in the recording too.
4. Under Pressure by The Foo Fighters
This version of Under Pressure is covered by Foo Fighters, featuring an injured David Grohl head banging, singing, and playing guitar while sitting in his “rock throne” (that’s his special custom-made seat on stage that’s decked out in guitar necks, lights, and the Foo Fighters logo). Even though he’s injured, this didn’t stop the band from bringing the fire to this cover. Also, it’s extra special because Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and Queen drummer Roger Taylor accompany them on stage.
3. Heroes by Janelle Monae
Heroes gets a dance soul makeover in this 2014 cover by Janelle Monae. She recorded this cover as part of Pepsi’s global soccer campaign, “Now Is What You Make It.” Her version stays true to her generic roots, making listeners want to dance, rather than be enchanted by sounds of guitar hums like the original version does. Monae plays with the genre of the tune, yet still manages to capture the essence of Bowie’s rendition.
2. Sound and Vision by Beck
This is one epic cover – no exaggeration. Beck and 160 of his closest friends, including his father, David Campbell, as the conductor, orchestrated (no pun intended) this nine minute rendition of Sound and Vision. The cover contains the music of guitars, a variety of percussion instruments, a choir, a strings orchestra, a winds band, an alphorn, and even a yodeler. It was filmed in Los Angeles with 360-degree cameras and microphones set up around the circular room. We guess Beck was up for the challenge with this cover! We’re sure Bowie would be proud of this one.
1. The Man Who Sold The World by Nirvana
Rounding off this top ten is Nirvana’s 1993 cover of The Man Who Sold the World. They covered this song acoustically during their MTV Unplugged performance. While fans were expecting the band to play some of their biggest hits, they surprised them by playing covers instead. Aside from playing the famous title track from Bowie’s 1970 album, Nirvana also covered music by The Meat Puppets, Leadbelly, and the Vaselines. Also, when Bowie got wind that they covered his song on MTV, he said: “I was simply blown away when I found out that Kurt Cobain liked my work, and have always wanted to talk to him about his reasons for covering The Man Who Sold the World.”