From Phoebe Bridgers to Smashing Pumpkins: The 10 greatest covers of The Cure
When looking back at the plethora of rock and roll music which has led us to this point in time it is hard to see anyone as utterly unique as The Cure. Robert Smith and his band juxtapose sweet sounds with melancholy lyrics unlike anyone else and have become worldwide heroes because of it.
It’s that idiosyncrasy that makes The Cure so endeared to the hearts and minds of their fans and it is their unique approach that makes their songs both so incredibly infectious and connective—a factor which makes covering a Cure song so difficult. However, some artists manage to channel the band and deliver the perfect rendition.
The group, one of the most widely and deeply adored bands of modern times, has successfully transcended their moody post-punk beginnings to a brand new pop sound that everyone could be proud of. Their range of expression is something that has consistently connected with their fan base over their 42 years as a group.
From the very beginning, The Cure tackled their songs with emotional honesty and authenticity that acted as the perfect antidote to the brutishness of punk. It was a journey that would continue to meander through musical landscapes, never truly settling, and see them not only top the charts but do so with critics and fans singing from the same hymn sheet—albeit a make-up stained one.
The group’s wide-ranging back catalogue is only matched by the depth of it, something that the artists below all explore. One thing’s for certain, whether you’re a record-selling artist taking on the track as a professional, or a fan singing loudly in your shower, The Cure always gave you something to truly believe in and sing with your heart.
Below are 10 of our favourite examples of those moments.
Yet somehow Bridgers is not only composed and assured with every expression but she adds her own passion and belief into the track to make it feel singular to her alone. Recorded as part of the Spotify singles sessions, the track is achingly beautiful and ranks as our favourite interpretation of the complexity with which The Cure render every song.
2. ‘Just Like Heaven’ – Dinosaur Jr.
This may well be the most famous covers of The Cure of all time. That’s because the track is taken in such a new and interesting direction it’s hard to forget about it. J Mascis and the band buzzsaw through the song with distorted guitars and a screaming bridge.
They effortlessly turn the track into a neo-blue number that’s been dipped in kerosene and pushed towards an open flame. Smith himself said of the song, “it was so passionate. It was fantastic. I’ve never had such a visceral reaction to a cover before or since.” There you have it
3. ‘A Night Like This’ – The Smashing Pumpkins
This cover from The Smashing Pumpkins is a relative rarity.
Not because their fans aren’t aware of it but because aside from being a comparative deep cut from The Cure’s 1985 record The Head On The Door, the song also sees guitarist James Iha take the vocals instead of Billy Corgan.
It makes for a surly affair as the lo-fi guitars lull between sumptuous strings and a thick arrangement. It makes for one of the best covers in the Pumpkins arsenal and the perfect B-side to ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings’.
4. ‘High’ – The Wedding Present
Another tribute album find but this time on Just Like Heaven, A Tribute to The Cure.
This cover of ‘High’ from The Wedding Present is the definition of what a good cover should do—pay homage to the original but always keeping it aligned to your own sound.
If this version of ‘High’ appeared on an album from The Wedding Present not a single person would suggest it was a cover such is their atypical punk rattle across this track. Listen below for your full dose of Wedding Present.
5. ‘Lovesong’ – Adele
OK, when we said earlier that the Dinosaur Jr. cover is the most famous rendition of The Cure’s songs perhaps we may have misspoken.
International pop star Adele delivered a cover of ‘Lovesong’ from her record-breaking album 21 and it makes for beautiful listening. It sees the singer develop further on the song’s intense melancholy, backed by lush instrumentation and guided by Rick Rubin.
6. ‘Friday I’m In Love’ – Kurt Vile and Yo La Tengo
Let the debate commence whether non-recorded songs should venture on this list rage on while we bring you a country-fried piece of pop from across the pond.
Here, we’re moving away from pop singers and entered the world of rock with the two indie darlings Kurt Vile and Yo La Tengo picking up the iconic masterpiece ‘Friday I’m In Love’. The footage is taken from a live show in Philadelphia, and you cannot tell us it isn’t full of joy.
7. ‘A Forest’ – Bat For Lashes
Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes, took on the song that made The Cure truly sparkle in the industry and pushed it to brand new levels back in 2008.
This release, which came as part of a tribute album to the Goth Gods, sees Khan both stretch and compress the song as she slows down notes and removes lines altogether. It is an engaging listen that highlights not only The Cure’s sense of direction but the pathway Khan is pulling us down.
8. ‘Seventeen Seconds’ – Cowboy Junkies
Margo Timmins and Cowboy Junkies take their time on everything they do and on their cover of the notoriously laconic ‘Seventeen Seconds’ the band grind to a beautiful pace.
It’s a deeply poignant piece of instrumentation which sees the guitar act as a dueting vocal allowing the power of his cover to evolve in the space between notes just as succinctly.
9. ‘The Lovecats’ – The Hotrats
The reason The Hotrats, AKA Supergrass’ Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey, took on this cover of The Cure’s ‘The Lovecats’ may well simply be because it sounded like their name.
Either way, we’re glad they did as they deliver a fire-breathing indie-rock rendition of the track. A psyche rock power that can’t really be matched.
10. ‘Close To Me’ – The Separate feat. Mark Lanegan
‘Close To Me’ may well be one of the band’s most unique songs, it means that a cover of the song is always difficult to traverse. Yet somehow, The Separate feat. Mark Lanegan orchestral rendition of the song is beyond all reproach.
Featuring on an album of similar covers called Orchestral Variations V.01, the version is beautifully lush and entirely complemented by Lanegan’s courageous vocal.