When looking back at the plethora of rock and roll music that 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. Champions of despair and banishers of unbridled joy, The Cure have set themselves apart as one of the most unique bands of all time.
It’s that idiosyncrasy that makes The Cure so endeared to their fans’ hearts and minds, and it is their unique approach that makes their songs both so incredibly infectious and connective—a factor that makes covering a Cure song so difficult. However, some artists manage to channel the band and deliver the perfect rendition.
One of the most widely and deeply adored bands of modern times, The Cure has successfully transcended their moody post-punk beginnings to a brand new pop sound that everyone could be proud of. Their range of expression 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 is 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 ten of our favourite examples of those moments.
The 10 greatest covers of The Cure:
‘Friday I’m In Love’ – Phoebe Bridgers
While it’s true that Phoebe Bridgers may have one of our favourite vocalists around right now, even she must have felt daunted when taking on the pop behemoth that is ‘Friday, I’m In Love’—the song Robert Smith wrote to (remarkably) evoke “that Friday feeling”.
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 renders every song.
‘Just Like Heaven’ – Dinosaur Jr.
This may well be the most famous cover 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.
‘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’.
A rare moment of reflection from the alt-rock legends sees them pay fitting tribute to Smith and his band.
‘High’ – The Wedding Present
Another tribute album find, but this time on Just Like Heaven, A Tribute to The Cure. It’s certainly one of our favourites too.
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. This cover is a perfect example of how to do it the right way.
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.
‘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.
Doing the most unusual of things and becoming a more widely acknowledged piece of the song’s iconography is the kind of thing only legends do. So, though you may feel a certain kind of way about Adele’s pop sounds, it’s hard to argue with her power.
‘Friday I’m In Love’ – Kurt Vile and Yo La Tengo
Let the debate commence on 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 entering 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.
We personally think that live covers are perhaps even closer to the steadfast tributes they appear to be. Everybody has witnessed a unique cover at a show and, when hearing it, you can be sure that you’ll remember the song, and the moment, forever.
‘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.
It’s a perfect fit of inspiration and wild talent that makes our speakers quiver with anticipation.
‘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 that sees the guitar act as a dueting vocal, propelling the narrative of the song forward, and allowing the power of his cover to evolve in the space between notes just as succinctly.
‘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. That’s as good a reason as ever, but it may also have something to do with the song’s ubiquitous appeal for any British lad.
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.
‘Close To Me’ – The Separate feat. Mark Lanegan
‘Close To Me’ may well be one of the band’s most unique songs, which means that a cover of the song is always difficult to traverse. Yet somehow, The Separate featuring Mark Lanegan’s orchestral rendition of the song is beyond all reproach.
Appearing on an album of similar covers called Orchestral Variations V.01, the version is beautifully lush and entirely complemented by Lanegan’s courageous vocal.