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The 50 Best Covers of U2 Songs


"On a bed of nails she makes me wait"

It was obvious pretty much from the start that U2 were setting out to be the most important band in the world, not necessarily the most famous or the richest, but the most important band in the world. And there are some who would argue that they actually achieved this goal. The songs not only reflected a highly original style, they were passionate to the extreme and generally covered much deeper subject matter than most other songs out there.

Following is nonhollywood's list of best U2 covers, see what you think. If you like this list check out our other lists of covers by great artists such as R.E.M. and The Cure (song previews provided courtesy of iTunes).



Lisa Bresnan

Sunday Bloody Sunday by Lisa Bresnan

At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, I find this version to be heartbreakingly beautiful. I simply love the sparse piano arrangement and Lisa's voice just drips with emotion. If you don't feel the heartbreak in this one, then you must be made of stone. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Mike Masse

One Tree Hill by Mike Masse

Here's a guy who's recorded about a million covers... and pretty much all of them are terrific. The emotion on this one--I mean, let's face it, Bono is one of the most emotional singers around, so if you're going to cover U2 it really helps to nail the emotion, which Mike does here, even despite the kinda rude audience chatter going on in the background during this live performance.Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Yellowfly

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by Yellowfly

The spartan arrangement of this one works really well. Again, another vocalist who can deliver the emotional goods, and that's what I'm looking for, especially in a U2 cover. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Trespassers William

Love is Blindness by Trespassers William

There is another page on this website where I absolutely gush about Trespassers William, so I won't go there on this one (though I really love Trespassers William). I'll just say that I hope you agree that their slow, dreamy version of Love is Blindness is just way cool. Even though it is not my favorite U2 song, I still think that this one is way cool. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Meshell Ndegeocello

40 by Meshell Ndegeocello

This has always been one of my favorite U2 songs. It's been a long time since I've been to one of their concerts, so I have no idea if they still end every show with this one, but I know that I love the song. And this version which appears on a charity album for the Congo has a really cool approach that I like: in a way it's pretty much like the original (all echoey and such), yet it still manages to feel quite a bit different than the original. Perhaps it's the delicate female vocals. But I really like it. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Amy Sky

With or Without You by Amy Sky

Though U2 had been gaining a bigger and bigger audience with each album, it was With or Without You that turned out to be the first gigantic super-hit of their career. So, it is only natural that there are many, many covers of this song. In my opinion, this one by Amy Sky is the best of the bunch: a gentle piano touch and deep, forlorn and tortured female vocals. I love it. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Rachel Barton

Sunday Bloody Sunday by Rachel Barton

This is a fantastic string instrumental version from classical artist Rachel Barton. I'm a fan of strings and one of the things that I've always enjoyed about classical music is the way that classical composers often take several different melodies and counter-melodies and weave them together--something about hearing all of those different parts going on always thrills me. So I was thrilled when I heard this arrangement of Sunday Bloody Sunday which applies a classical string quartet feel to this emotionally impactful tune. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Boyce Avenue feat. Kina Grannis

With or Without You by Boyce Avenue feat. Kina Grannis

The emergence of Youtube has helped to make our time something of the golden age of cover tunes. And one of the groups that has made one heck of a mark in that golden age is Boyce Avenue. Here they team with fellow Youtuber Kina Grannis for a great rendition of With or Without You featuring some damned amazing harmonies. Great stuff. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Martine Locke

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by Martine Locke

...and here's another way cool one, Martine's voice is saturated with emotion in this straight-ahead acoustic cover. Very nice. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Jamestowne

One Tree Hill by Jamestowne

As you've probably guessed, I really love this song and I'm so happy to have found a few covers that do it justice. This acoustic cover from Jamestowne hits it just right, leaving me with that same "desert-y" feeling that was evoked by The Joshua Tree but with a slightly different feel to it. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Earl Pickens & Family

In God's Country by Earl Pickens & Family

2 things here. First, In God's Country is my favorite Joshua Tree song--I feel like it's the perfect blend of melody and poetry (try reading the lyrics as a poem sometime, they work fantastically). Second, I don't generally care much for bluegrass music. But for some reason, this version on a bluegrass tribute to U2 really works for me. Go figure Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Colonial Bhoys

Sunday Bloody Sunday by Wild Colonial Bhoys

I've recorded many songs with an acoustic guitar wherein I'm pounding the strings as hard as I can--as it just adds an aggressive feel to what is generally a pretty-sounding instrument and I love that you can get that sort of feel without distortion and an amp. So I was immediately drawn to this cover in which someone is beating the crap out of an acoustic guitar. I'm pretty sure that at least a string or 2 were broken during the recording of this one. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Jenny & Tyler

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by Jenny & Tyler

Soft and sweet female vocals and sparse background arrangements add up to a powerfully emotional rendition of this U2 classic. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Vitamin String Quartet

Pride - In the Name of Love by Vitamin String Quartet

If there's one name that you'll notice recurring on my lists of covers, it is Vitamin String Quartet. I just can't say enough good things about them. And this version of Pride - In the Name of Love is, I think, one of their best. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

2Cellos

With or Without You by 2Cellos

So I'm a fan of U2, and I'm a fan of cello music... so here we are. I love the arrangement used by 2Cellos (who, by the way also do a great cover of Sting's heartbreaking song Fragile. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

Lacey & Sara

With or Without You by Lacey & Sara

A gentle, rolling, female acoustic version here, which works extraordinarily well. I have no idea if it is Lacey or Sara doing the singing, but whichever it is, she's fantastic. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Jen Todd

Pride - In the Name of Love by Jen Todd

The spartan arrangement of Jen Todd's cover of Pride really brings the lyrics and the emotion thereof to the fore. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Feelings

With or Without You by Feelings

"Weeth or weethout choo" she whispers in some sexy accent I can't identify, above a very nice piano rendition here. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Hazel Kaneswaran

A Sort of Homecoming by Hazel Kaneswaran

I've always enjoyed the bass part in this song and Hazel's version does a great job of that bass part, coupled with a strumming acoustic guitar and of course, some great vocals Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Electron Love Theory

Sunday Bloody Sunday by Electron Love Theory

I'll admit it, when I saw this album billed as a "U2 Electronic Tribute," I was a bit skeptical. Luckily, this cover of Sunday, Bloody Sunday got rid of my doubts. With chill-style synths and low-keyed female vocals, it definitely feels like a completely different song, but a good different song Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Electron Love Theory

Bad by Electron Love Theory

And while we're at it, another in this series by Electron Love Theory (but with a different vocalist). Bad is one of my favorite U2 songs and I'm really surprised that I would like an electronic version of it. I love the low-key groove that's happening here and the female vocals are just right. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).

AcoustiKitty

With or Without You by AcoustiKitty

A pretty straightforward acoustic cover here, but there's something so appealing in her vocals which makes it make the list. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

The Lester McLean Trio

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by The Lester McLean Trio

Imagine a scratchy old blues record from the depression-era south and that's what you get from this cover. If you are into great blues guitar stylings, then this is the version for you. (by the way, Lester does an amazing cover of Little Red Corvette... I'm just saying). Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Celtic  Tribute Players

Stuck In a Moment You Can't Get Out Of by Celtic Tribute Players

When you look around the internet for cover songs, you find that there are a lot of Celtic versions of pretty much everything out there. Well, this tribute to U2 actually makes sense, Celtic-ly speaking, and this great fiddle-fueled version of Stuck In a Moment shows exactly the way to go about such a thing. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Jacques Stotzern

With or Without You by Jacques Stotzem

A fantastic acoustic guitar instrumental version here, I love how he carries the melody and the background in one integrated strumming session Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Chris Ekral

With or Without You by Chris Ekral

A very interesting cascading keyboard part in the background behind a strumming acoustic guitar, add in some ethereal vocals and here you are Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Marcelo Rezende

Pride - In the Name of Love by Marcelo Rezende

I really like the slight change in the chord progression on this Brazilian-styled acoustic version of this classic. Plus. some great congas and choral background vocals. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Sarah Darling

With or Without You by Sarah Darling

Despite the fact that I'm not really a country music person, I feel like this country version works really well. Sarah's vocals are soft and sensitive and the pedal steel guitar makes for a mournful cry in the background. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

MauColi

Pride - In the Name of Love by MauColi

This song, with its big soaring chorus is just perfect for a great piano instrumental version... and here is that great piano instrumental version. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Charmaine Clamor

With or Without You by Charmaine Clamor

A smokey jazz version here, with Charmaine's deep and sultry voice giving this song a much different feel than I've felt anywhere else. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Garland Trio

With or Without You by Garland Trio

Once again, my love of Cello shows its face here as this instrumental version has the melody carried by Cello. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Dierks Bentley

Pride - In the Name of Love by Dierks Bentley

Okay, I know I've said this, but I'm not much of a fan of bluegrass, yet this cover works for me. I love the way that Edge's well-known guitar part is so well played on a mandolin and the harmonies on the chorus are just darned impressive. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Exilio

With or Without You by Exilio

Shall we tango? Exilio has a whole album full of classic songs interpreted with a tango beat, and it sure makes With or Without You interesting. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Two Weeks Notice

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by Two Weeks Notice

I'm always intrigued by a cappella arrangements (well, interesting and unique a cappella arrangements. I really enjoy the way the backgrounds are handled in this sweet version by Two Weeks Notice. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Bad Influence

Pride - In the Name of Love by Bad Influence

You may have noticed that I tend to lean toward somber and sparse covers in my lists, but just to throw you a curve, here's a great and rockin' live cover by Bad Influence. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Alive and Singing

With or Without You by Alive and Singing

I'm sure that choirs the world over have taken a stab at this one. Well, here is a choral version that certainly does the trick. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

The Frames

40 by The Frames

The Frames have always featured passionate vocals and this version of 40 is no exception as they bring the vocals very much to the fore here. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

altBandName

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by Erin Propp & Larry Roy

A jazzy acoustic version of this one. To be honest, when I first started listening to this one, the changes they've made to the chord voicing threw me off and turned me off, but as I listened more patiently, I began to actually enjoy it. And Erin has a downright beautiful voice. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Kat Spina

Pride - In the Name of Love by Kat Spina

This is a very interesting take on this song--definite pop stylings paired with a change of time signature to give it a waltz feel. 1,2,3,1,2,3 is something I don't remember ever hearing from U2, but it works. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Soweto Gospel Choir

Pride - In the Name of Love by Soweto Gospel Choir

A gospel choir doing a great cover of this tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. I can't imagine a better fit. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Dave Baker

Pride - In the Name of Love by Dave Baker

A very nice take on this song using classical guitar and cello (yeah, there's my cello fetish showing itself again). Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Alice Ripley

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by Alice Ripley

A nice aggressive acoustic cover with fantastic vocals from Tony-award winner Alice Ripley. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Ordinary Love

Ordinary Love by The Line On The Horizon

The soaring vocals of this song seem to make it a tough one to cover, but here it has been done seemingly effortlessly in this "unplugged" version. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

< Freezap

With or Without You by Freezap

A whole lotta passionate emotion going on in this excellent acoustic cover of With or Without You. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Not For Coltrane

Mysterious Ways by Not For Coltrane

I have to be honest here, Mysterious Ways was the first U2 song that I really didn't care for (okay, let's get this out in the open: I'm one of those U2 fans from the 80s who absolutely hated their work in the 90s and waited patiently until they got back on track with All That You Can't Leave Behind). So, I really had to listen to a whole lot of covers to find one that I liked. This one takes it and makes a fun acoustic jam out of it. And this one I do like (by the way, this guy also manages to pull off one very difficult task: a live version of REM's It's the End of the World as We Know It. Try to get all of those words right in one shot sometime. Impressive). Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)

Beppe Dettori

With or Without You by Beppe Dettori

A very unique take on this one, the ballad has been turned into a driving bar-band tune. He really attacks the vocals here, and it's great. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)