To what length does and artist have to go to in order to expell a worthy David Bowie cover? Over the years, many artists have attempted to recreate the Thin White Duke's genius. Those who have succeeded in capturing his essence have done so by going above and beyond, but without simply trying to mimic the original.
Recently, Beck organized a group of 167 musicians to cover "Sound and Vision" off Bowie's 1977 opus Low. In order to come close to matching the classic, Beck found it necessary to enlist members of the Dap-Kings, members of the USC marching band, a Peruvian charango group, a CalArts gamelan ensemble, Fred Martin and LA's Millennium Choirs, nine guitarists, a Theremin player, and his own father as the conductor.
As one would expect, the list of David Bowie covers is extensive, having a vast array of artists involved stretching from Barbara Streisand to The Blood Brothers. We fished through the boundless depths and selected the five most transcendent renditions of David Bowie classics.
5. Superchunk - "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)"
This is a song off Superchunk's double disc collection of singles, B-sides, and rarities, Cup of Sand, released back in 2003. Superchunk transports the title track off Bowie's 1980 release out of the decade of pop darkness and into an age of gritty garage reverb.
4. TV on the Radio ft. Karen O - "Heroes"
Back in 2008, Bowie provided backing vocals on "Province," a shining track on Return to Cookie Mountain, so they had a pretty good feel for the dude. "Heroes" is Bowie's most covered song, and this one was chosen due to the incorporation of TVOTR's signature, eccentric aesthetic, which magically complements the original. Oh, and it also features Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, so that's a plus.
3. M. Ward - "Let's Dance"
The whispery monster of folk completely turns the 80s pop ballad on its head by stripping it down to a whispering acoustic. It's an otherworldly and completely genuine interpretation of the original.
2. Seu Jorge - "Rock n' Roll Suicide"
Performed originally for Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Brazilian musician/actor Seu Jorge sings "Rock n Roll Suicide" in his native language, Portuguese. This was one of multiple Bowie songs repurposed for the film by Jorge, but undoubtedly the finest. Without any former knowledge of the foreign language, the amplifying emotional burn of the original persists all the way up until the climactic "Oh no Love! You're not alone!"
1. Nirvana - "The Man Who Sold the World"
Famously performed live in 1993 during MTV Unplugged, Nirvana's rendition of "The Man Who Sold the World" is quite possibly the most highly acclaimed cover in modern music. Cobain's trembling voice sings Bowie's words about a man who no longer recognizes himself and can no longer stand it. Four months after this performance, Cobain took his own life.