Six times indie rock stars made pop bangers their own

If there's one thing we love more than a guilty pleasure, it's seeing our favourite bands covering them to brilliant effect. We run down a list of when indie goes pop that includes Wolf Alice, Arctic Monkeys and more.

Henry Lewis

Last updated: 4th Jul 2018.
Originally published: 22nd Mar 2018

Image: BBC (credit)

Since the turn of the millennium, the ritual of uber cool indie rock stars giving their best renditions of pop gems has become more and more frequent, not least down to the likes of BBC Radio 1's live lounge or Australian radio station Triple J's brilliant 'Like A Version' feature.

These sessions are many adored for a few reasons, firstly we get to see and hear our guilty pleasures brilliantly reinterpreted on guitar, secondly we get to see often surly rockers letting their guard down and letting us know that they too have moments of weakness, and lastly when they get it right you start to find yourself in love with a song's second coming even more than it's original form. 

There are plenty to choose from, including Franz Ferdinand's version of Gwen Stefani's 'What You Waiting For?', The Cribs lending their talents to Queen and David Bowie's smash 'Under Pressure' or Biffy Clyro's rendition of Rihanna's global number 1 'Umbrella', however we've whittled down our favourites to six moments of pure brilliance. 

Wolf Alice 'Boys' (Charli XCX cover)

Charli XCX's mario sampling pop gem was easily one of our biggest guilty pleasures of 2017, and was accompanied by an equally brilliant video that featured Mac DeMarco, Mark Ronson, Hurts' Theo Hutchcraft, Will.I.am, Tom Daley and heaps of other famous 'boys'. Here though Ellie Rowsell and co turning the uber shiny track into a scuzzy indie rattler with just the silky smooth vocals intact, and it plays into the band's hands perfectly.

As with any great cover, if you can throw an added song in the mixer for good measure then you've truly nailed it, and this is 100% the case with the teasing of the Cure's Boys Don't Cry on the keyboards in the chorus, before giving a rendition of it's ear worm of a chorus as a crafty closer. (Find Wolf Alice tickets.)

Blossoms 'Manic Monday' (The Bangles cover)

The Stockport five piece have made it no secret that they love a good old '80s classic, with their latest track 'I Can't Stand It' a perfect example of how the era has influenced what is to come on album number two. Blossoms' love for the 80s has also been aided, in some part, by Stranger Things with the video to 'Honey Sweet' a nostalgic tribute to the much loved Netflix show and since then the love in for the decade has been unavoidable.

Way before that though the boys appeared as part of BBC's World Music Day back in 2016, performing a top cover of the Bangles' 1986 single 'Manic Monday' a song that lodged itself in their live sets for a while, and even got a run out during their Other Stage performance at Glastonbury the same year. (Find Blossoms tickets.)

Arctic Monkeys 'Just Hold On We're Going Home' (Drake Cover)

A seminal moment in the career of Arctic Monkeys, for this Drake cover landmarked the loosening of Alex Turner's hips and changed the way we looked at the Arctic Monkeys frontman forever. For years he had come a cross as a shy, Sheffield genius oft hidden by the mane of his lengthy locks but this appearance on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge cast Turner in a different light.

And what a cover choice it was too, to accompany a fifth album that reeked of hip hop through tracks such as 'Arabella' and 'Why D'You Only Call Me When You're High?' choosing to reinterpret Drake and Majid Jordan's smooth jam was a stroke of genius. A lot was made of Turner's Dad dancing come this video's release, but it's remained a constant whenever Alex lays his guitar down - and we're more than happy about that. (Find Arctic Monkeys tickets.)

Haim 'That Don't Impress Me Much' (Shania Twain cover)

For the second time (and definitely not the last time in this article) we're dropping back in on Aussie radio station Triple J as their Like A version sessions tend to throw up some cover gold, and this one is absolutely no different. In one of the most awesome displays of girl power you're likely to see, L.A sisters Haim deliver a delightful version of Shania Twain's two fingers up to lame guys.

 With Este and Danielle Haim trading vocals over a smooth foundation of electronic beats and shimmering synths, this version of the track is as seductive as it is sassy and complete with a wiry guitar solo sounds every inch a Haim track, and breathes a whole new life into Twain's 1997 release. (Find Haim tickets.)

Kings Of Leon 'Dancing On My Own' (Robyn cover)

 

The Followill clan are arguably the surliest of modern day rock and roll stars, with accusations sometimes levelled at the group that they look disinterested on stage while their reputation once proceeded them as being big drinkers who would indulge in family feuds frequently. 

It was perhaps surprising then that Kings of Leon decided to cover Swedish pop star Robyn when they were welcomed by Fearne Cotton into the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge just over three years ago. As you can see above, the cover wasn't just kept within the confines of the Broadcasting House, with the band adding this into their live set for an incredible headline show at Chicago festival Lollapolooza. (Find Kings Of Leon tickets.)

DMA's 'Believe' (Cher cover)

We're saving arguably the best til last here. In our recent DMA's interview, when talking about this track guitarist Johnny Took explained"It was Mason's idea. He started playing it as a joke at the soundcheck to a live gig in Berlin. We just kind of all joined in one by one and when Tommy started singing it on the mic we all kind of just looked at each other. We were like, wow, that fits your key pretty well, man."

And fit his key it does indeed. There's something truly irresistible about this cover that has made us return to the above video time and time again, it's hauntingly beautiful and without doubt, a huge part of the appeal comes purely from seeing three Oasis loving, indie rockers smashing out a Cher classic. (Find DMA's tickets.)