The 10 best David Bowie cover versions

15 February 2024, 18:09

Greatest Bowie covers: Nirvana, Placebo and Warpaint
Greatest Bowie covers: Nirvana, Placebo and Warpaint. Picture: David Wolff - Patrick/WireImage/Frank Micelotta/Getty/PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

Hundreds of people have covered David Bowie over the years - but which songs are the best? From Nirvana to Placebo, here are our favourites.

Radio X

By Radio X

In October 1973, David Bowie released the album Pin Ups, which saw the superstar cover songs that had meant a lot to him over the past decade. In doing so, he uncovered his "mod" past, tackling songs by The Who, The Kinks and The Pretty Things.

Bowie himself went on to be a huge influence on other artists, being the launching pad for punk, goth and the New Romantic movements. The man who so brilliantly interpreted other people's material has seen his own songs covered by dozens of others.

Here are just a few of the greatest David Bowie cover versions.

  1. Nirvana - The Man Who Sold The World

    The classic, as recorded by the band for their MTV Unplugged show in November 1993. Kurt Cobain's performance drew out the troubled, eerie melancholy of the song and the track was played endlessly in the days after the Nirvana frontman's death in April 1994.

    Nirvana - The Man Who Sold The World (Live On MTV Unplugged, 1993 / Unedited)

  2. Biffy Clyro - Modern Love

    Recorded for US radio DJ Howard Stern, this is a typically complex arrangement of the Let's Dance opener from the Scottish rock trio.

    Biffy Clyro - Modern Love (Recorded for Howard Stern David Bowie Tribute)

  3. Beck - Sound And Vision

    In 2013, Beck Hansen developed this disorientating cover of the track from 1977's Low in association with a 157-piece orchestra that sat on a revolving stage at the 20th Century Fox studios in Los Angeles. “It was an experiment and an opportunity to try something completely irrational," he later told Rolling Stone. He succeeded.

    Beck Reimagines David Bowie's 'Sound and Vision'

  4. Foo Fighters - Under Pressure

    The late, great Taylor Hawkins steps out from the drum stool to perform the Queen and David Bowie classic team-up. This footage captures the Foos' performance at the Super Saturday Night show in 2019, with none other than Roger Taylor himself on drums.

    Foo Fighters & Roger Taylor - Under Pressure (Super Saturday Night 2019)

  5. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Suffragette City

    A live cover that appeared as the b-side of the 1995 single Aeroplane. The Chilis give the Bowie tune the dusting of trashy LA glam it's always deserved.

    Red Hot Chili Peppers - Suffragette City - B-Side [HD]

  6. The Associates - Boys Keep Swinging

    An ultra minimalist take on Bowie's Lodger cut, released as a single only six weeks after the original. Singer Billy Mackenzie later claimed it was a deliberate attempt to garner attention: "People said, 'That is awful. How dare they!'"

    Boys Keep Swinging (2016 Remaster)

  7. Bauhaus - Ziggy Stardust

    Cynics may say this is almost a carbon copy of the original, but the goth pioneers brought the classic to a new audience when it broke the Top 20 in 1982. Their ultimate Bowie moment came when they appeared in the opening scene of the star's 1983 movie The Hunger, performing their single Bela Lugosi's Dead.

    Bauhaus - Ziggy Stardust HD

  8. Warpaint - Ashes To Ashes

    In 2010, the album We Were So Turned On: A Tribute to David Bowie was released in aid of the charity War Child. Los Angeles quartet Warpaint offered this icy version of Bowie's 1980 Number 1 hit, Ashes To Ashes.

    Warpaint - Ashes To Ashes (David Bowie Cover)

  9. Placebo - Five Years

    Bowie had provided vocals for Placebo's single Without You I'm Nothing back in 1999, so Brian Molko repaid the compliment by covering the Ziggy Stardust opener Five Years for a French TV show in 2004. The Placebo version emphasises the acoustic roots of Bowie's apocalyptic anthem.

    Brian Molko Five Years HQ ( David Bowie Cover )

  10. Nine Inch Nails - I'm Afraid Of Americans

    Trent Reznor delivers an ultra-heavy interpretation of Bowie's song from Earthling. This clip is recorded live in Toronto in 2009.

    NIN: "I'm Afraid of Americans" live from on stage in Toronto, 6.02.09 [HD 1080p]