Open Thread: Strange Covers

This is Antony, the trans lead singer of Antony and the Johnsons covering Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide. I probably have a higher tolerance for strange covers than average, even the new fad of indie covers of big hits from the past 20-30 years, but this one just made me laugh. Here’s an open thread to share the strangest covers you’ve found lately, or anything else.

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130 replies
  1. TerryC says:

    I haven’t listened to this yet, thanks for it. Have to say that my Antony and the Johnsons Pandora station is really nice. (Wife’s a big fan of his.)

  2. Brian R. says:

    Yeah, I like it too.

    The Kills’ cover of “Dreams” is cool off that compilation too.

    And check out the Afghan Whigs’ cover of Frank Ocean’s “Lovecrimes.”

  3. Brian R. says:


    Jan Brewer just signed an order denying any local or state benefits to the dreamers who sign up.

    And then immediately had to admit her order changed nothing in the state’s current laws and was just a publicity stunt. Ignore her.

  4. MattW says:

    My favorite cover is from “A Metal Tribute to Depeche Mode”. A band I’ve never heard of before called Imprudence covered “Never Let Me Down Again”, and it’s awesome because although the singer is doing that growling, back-of-the-throat metal voice, he ends up sounding exactly like Cookie Monster. Not kinda-sorta Cookie Monster, but so on the nose that my wife and I bust up laughing every time we hear it.

  5. mistermix says:

    @Brian R.: I like Antony and the Johnsons, so I think the reason it made me laugh was the juxtaposition of his delicate voice and wavering falsetto with what I’ve always considered a top-40 mainstream hit. I’m listening to the rest of the album now.

  6. Jacquie says:

    Yesterday I heard Wall of Voodoo covering Johnny Cash. I don’t think my brain has recovered yet.

  7. gbear says:

    Did I just get put in moderation for mentioning Led Zeppelin’s second most famous song (starting with Whole..)?

  8. natthedem says:

    I concede to liking the trend of singer-songwriters covering hip-hop songs…mainly because it emphasizes the musicality of rap. Here are a few of my favorites:

    William Fitzsimmons – Heartless (Kanye West cover)

    Marie Digby – My Life (The Game/Lil Wayne cover)

    Anya Marina – Whatever You Like (TI cover)

  9. Mnemosyne (iPhone) says:

    My new favorite bizarre cover is Alice Cooper singing “Born This Way” at Bonnaroo (sorry, on iPhone, so no linky to YouTube). The song works surprisingly well as a hard-rock number.

  10. Bruuuuce says:

    I think my all time favorite is Adam West doing “The New Gin and Juice”. The goddamn Batman raps. Sort of, at least.

  11. artem1s says:

    ran into these covers a couple of days ago…

    Reluctant as I am to add to the mountain of interpretations of Somebody That I Used To Know seemingly taking over their own area of the internet, I couldn’t resist the massive remixability that such a large, varied yet connected bundle of source material offered.

    this is my personal favorite cover of the song I’ve seen so far…

  12. Jay in Oregon says:

    Tell Kelsey Grammar to read a book or two about the Hollywood blacklist–y’know, when Hollywood actually persecuted people–and STFU.

    When he’s living in a shithole apartment and writing under assumed names in order to feed himself, then I might be sympathetic.

  13. Finnigan says:

    @Brian R.:
    Further, any Afghan Whigs cover. Check out Twilight Singers “She Loves You” for more Dulli awesomeness. “Hyperballad” knocks my socks off.

  14. Cassidy says:

    @Brian R.: The Afghan Whigs have many amazing covers. I was starting to think I was ther only fan left.

    Any of the “Punk Goes…” albums kick ass. Lot’s of good covers, especially the Punk Goes Crunk.

    I recently heard a cover from A Perfect Circle that was eerily redone and kind of creepy, but I forget the song.

  15. rea says:

    What I am not down with is Fleetwood Mac nostalgia

    They were a great group long before Buckingham and Nicks joined . . . can I be nostalgic for Black Magic Woman?

  16. JGabriel says:

    @Jay in Oregon:

    Wow, where do I start?

    Seriously. Just to get a few obvious ones out of the way:

    Aztec Camera’s acoustic (mostly) version of Van Halen’s Jump.

    Sonic Youth’s cover of The Carpenter’s Superstar.

    Van Morrison’s cover of Tommy Edwards’ It’s All In The Game — itself a reworking of Air In “A” Major, written by Charles Dawes, US VP under Calvin Coolidge and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 1925.

    Sid Vicious’s cover of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.


  17. Southern Beale says:

    Another stereotype bites the dust:

    The U.S. is ranked 25th in world by number of passenger cars per person, just above Ireland and just below Bahrain. There are 439 cars here for every thousand Americans, meaning a little more than two people for every car. That number is higher in nearly all of Western Europe — the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, etc. — as well as in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. It’s higher in crisis-wracked Iceland and Greece. Italians and New Zealanders have nearly 50 percent more cars per capita than does the U.S. The highest rate in the world is casino-riddled Mediterranean city-state Monaco, with 771 cars per thousand citizens.

    I never would have guessed this. We actually have few cars per person than all of those countries with socialized medicine? France? Spain? ITALY? Seriously? Hmm. Wonder if there’s a connection …

  18. John 2.0 says:

    @Brian R.: Hip Hop turns into folk music pretty easily. I had a friend who used sing a folk version of Ice Cube’s ‘It Was a Good Day’ at parties.

    For weird covers: Mike Doughty’s cover of ‘Real Love’ on Skittish (it’s been on my mind recently, since I’ve been reading his book).

  19. phein39 says:

    There’s a group called Big Daddy that covered all of Sergeant Pepper’s in 1950’s style, and some of the tracks are surprisingly affecting.

    The Bob’s do a cappella covers of 60’s through 80’s rock classics, most of which are surprisingly faithful to the originals.

    And I can’t remember where I heard it first, but there’s a version of (someone impersonating) Gordon Lightfoot singing “Rocky Raccoon” as an audition tape for the pre-White Album Beatles to the tune of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

  20. raven says:

    My brother put together this Fair Forgery of Pink Floyd.

    “Why the hell do we need yet another Pink Floyd tribute album? Because we desperately needed this one. First of all, this is a localized project involving bands from the U.S. West Coast that all recorded their versions in the same studio, ensuring steady quality standards. Second, the artists come from various backgrounds, anywhere between metal and country-folk. Third, they cover all of the group’s career, not just the sacrosanct trilogy (Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall, in case you really needed to ask), including many of Syd Barrett’s buried treasures (“Lucifer Sam,” “Bike,” “Corporal Clegg”).”

  21. RodeoBob says:

    Not a regular poster, just a lurker, but this thread lines up well with a recent effort to get good/funky/weird covers.

    I’ll take the Social Distortion cover of Ring of Fire over WoV.

    Atari covering “Boys of Summer” is one of those “as good or better than the originals”

    Disturbed covering “Land of Confusion” hits the same mark. The video is a bit goofy, but what can you do?

    Those are all pretty good spins on the originals. Then there’s the not-so-good stuff…

    How about a country-western cover of NiN’s “Closer”? (NSFW, and may ruin that song forever for you)

    What about the trying-to-hard-to-be-clever cover of Boyz In Da Hood?

    Really, that all pales compared to the vocal trainwreck that is Clint Eastwood trying to cover Bing Crosby.

    The thing-de-resistance of this set has to be the utterly bizarre Leonard Nimoy cover of “If I Had a Hammer”. Be sure to stick around the 1:23 mark when it really goes off the rails!

  22. Cassidy says:

    @Brian R.: I didn’t know they were touring again. I just read that they did Lollapalooza this year. I’m really hoping for a new album. I still haven’t found albums as powerful as Gentleman and Black Love. There has been a lot of really good music since then, but nothing has touched them. I’m thinking Smashing Pumpkins Melancholy…ness might be the closest. Maybe White light, White Heat, White Trash.

  23. Cassidy says:

    No discussion of great music covers is complete without Hugo’s cover of 99 Problems. I’m at work and can’t link, but it’s easy to find on youtube.

  24. Just One More Canuck says:

    @FridayNext: couldn’t find Nash the Slash’s version of Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Butthole Surfers did an instrumental version

  25. jayackroyd says:

    I had, can’t find it now, a two disc set from Ronco or some label like that that consisted of just Louie Louie covers. My favorite was a Russian’s men’s chorus, in Russian.

    I like Joan Jett’s cover of Jonathan Richman’s Roadrunner.

  26. Jay in Oregon says:

    I love Sonic Youth’s cover of Superstar! Nice catch.

    No one has come up with Dynamite Hack’s cover of “Boyz in the Hood” yet?

    Tricky doing “Black Steel”, a cover of Public Enemy’s “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos”

    And there’s a whole wing in the strange covers museum reserved for Dread Zeppelin, who prompted Robert Plant to say “They did ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come’ better than we did.”

  27. Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God says:

    Anyone else following the Assange/UK/Ecuador conflict? The UK was threatening to storm Quito’s embassy if they offered asylum. Ecuador did, anyway. Um…

    I have zero sympathy for a wannabe punk (and accused rapist) like Assange… but is he really worth something so extreme? It also risks making him more a sympathetic figure than he deserves to be.

    I’m reminded of that speech in A Man for All Seasons, about tearing down the law to get at the Devil. Be careful, lest the Devil turn on you once all the laws are gone.

  28. Alain says:

    Check out Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s – they are a “super band” (punk/hardcore) that do pretty much all covers. Lots of them, fast, short, and fun, kinda like the Dead Milkmen’s early work.

  29. Andy G. says:

    Favorite unexpected covers include:

    Bette Midler’s 1970s disco version of Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In The Night” (with then-unknown Luther Vandross on backing vocals)

    Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” performed by the Scissor Sisters

    Jamie Cullum’s version of “Wind Cries Mary”

    The 5th Dimension performing Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love”

  30. phein39 says:

    @69 Brian R:

    Speaking of bluegrass covers, the Bad Livers out of Austin up-tempo cover of Iggy’s Lust for Life.

    And maybe John Hiatt’s cover of the Ramone’s Sedated.

  31. Stuart_b says:

    Wish I could produce it now, but heard just after closing in a restaurant. Somewhere there exists a Chinese techno version of “My Sharona”.

  32. Haydnseek says:

    @raven: I bought three copies of Alone Together, not just because the music is eternally great, but I was sure the bowling ball looking vinyl would be uber-collectible one day. Turns out that it was the black vinyl version that became worth a bit of scratch. Pun intended.

  33. David says:

    The Residents’ cover of Hank Williams, esp. Ramblin’ Man

    Sonic Youth’s cover of the Carpenters’ Superstar

  34. Haydnseek says:

    I love weird cover versions. There are so many to choose from, but one that stands out is Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee doing a completely straight version of Randy Newmans “Sail Away.” I play it for people and have yet to see one gob that isn’t resoundingly smacked.

  35. blingee says:

    Just stick to these mindless posts mistermix. It was only a few months ago you were still breathlessly speculating about a Palin VP pick with starbursts in your eyes. Maybe you should send a resume to tiger beat.

  36. Amir Khalid says:

    I mentioned before that I have Pat Boone’s No More Mr Nice Guy album, where he does jazz-pop covers of various metal classics: Smoke On The Water, Paradise City, Holy Diver, Stairway To Heaven. But I think Dolly Parton’s cover of the last one — I have that album too — is better.

  37. LanceThruster says:

    Though it doesn’t really qualify as strange covers, the album “Paint It Blue” with blues musicians doing Rolling Stones covers is pretty awesome. Some tracks truly rival the Stones originals.

  38. Tom the First says:

    That Lykki Li cover of “Silver Springs” is strange because there are parts of in where she sounds exactly like Stevie Nicks.

  39. Less Popular Tim says:

    @MattW: OMG hilarious. How bummed would Mr. Imprudence be to hear that? I’m sure he’d be crestfallen to get that feedback.

  40. zombie rotten mcdonald says:

    well, there’s also Those Darn Accordions covering….well, just about anything… in a polka style with multiple accordions:
    Devil went Down to Georgia, Stairway to Heaven, Pump It Up, We’re an Accordion Band, Hocus Pocus, Baba O’Riley, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy…

  41. burnspbesq says:

    I’m kinda partial to the Brad Mehldau Trio’s 22-minute free-jazz take on “Black Hole Sun.”

    But nothing can surpass Richard Thompson’s version of “Oops I Did It Again.”

  42. BenA says:

    I thought Seu Jorge covering David Bowie for Life Aquatic was awesome.

    Zappa covering “Stairway to Heaven” is a favorite.

    I know it’s more mainstream but:
    Michael Jackson covering “Come Together”.

    zombie rotten mcdonald:
    I agree not to mention the best parts of any Weird Al album are when he does the Polka covers.

  43. Spike says:

    Greatest cover I’ve ever heard is the awesome bluegrass version of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage” by the Austin Lounge Lizards.

  44. Vlad says:

    Hoo boy, lots of good stuff still out there un-linked.

    Albert Kuvezin and Yat-Kha covering Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.

    Pussy Galore (Jon Spencer’s pre-Blues Explosion band) covering Einstürzende Neubauten’s “Yü Gung”.

    Johnny Hallyday covering “Hey Joe” (famously covered by Hendrix – who knows who actually wrote it?

    Primus doing a great one-minute live cover of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”.

  45. John T says:

    Antony also does a cover of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” but he sucks all the manic energy out of the song and turns it into a twee, weepy, cry for help. Most of my friends LOVE Antony but his voice has always been like nails on a chalkboard for me.

  46. Vlad says:

    OK, one more that I really like:

    Fantomas metaling-up Karl-Ernst Sasse’s theme from “Der Golem”.

    That whole album (The Director’s Cut) is covers of movie themes, mostly horror movie themes. The “Cape Fear” cover on it is another highlight.

    Mike Patton, the frontman of that group, is a good one for bizarroid covers. Another of his side projects, Tomahawk, did an entire album (Anonymous) of really cool covers of traditional Native American chants and songs.

  47. rea says:

    @David: Sonic Youth’s cover of the Carpenters’ Superstar

    The song was originally written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell, and recorded by Delany & Bonnie & Friends (with Clapton playing guitar) under the name “Groupie.” The Carpenters edited the sex out of the lyrics.

  48. Ridnik Chrome says:

    @Vlad: Speaking of Einsturzende Neubauten (and Lee Hazelwood), how about EN’s version of “Sand”? (Which by the way was the B-side of the “Yu-Gung” 12″ single, for all you record geeks.)

  49. Special One says:

    Tony Harrison: What is your beef with The Mac?

    Saboo: The same beef every right thinking man has; They are bullshit munchers!

  50. Pete Johnson says:

    Probably my favorite “indie” cover of a classic song is Placebo doing Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”.

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