If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times; the key to a great cover version is all about walking the delicate balance between paying homage to the original while adding your own special influence to the song. Smashing Pumpkins were clearly listening to us back in 2013 when they covered David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’.
Bowie’s original track was the singer’s breakthrough hit and is enjoying its 50th anniversary with a new issue. It was his first taste of stardom and would go on to be the starting point of an illustrious career like no other. But while Bowie was master of his own music he was also deeply passionate about encouraging other artists to express themselves.
This is why we’re pretty certain that Bowie would’ve been happy with Billy Corgan and Co.’s rendition of ‘Space Oddity’. While Bowie’s track was beautifully haunting and lonely, tinged with a spectral otherworldliness that twinkled in the space that surrounded his main protagonist, the Pumpkins went for something a little more heavy.
In fact, The Smashing Pumpkins do a very good job of making this iconic song feel not only brand new but as if it could be appear on any of their albums. They replace the twinkling with guitar feedback and amp up the loneliness with Corgan’s unique vocal, all of which makes for a truly memorable cover.
The footage below comes from the band’s appearance at SXSW in 2013 as part of the Guitar Center Sessions and is a must-watch for any fan of either The Smashing Pumpkins or Bowie.