Dave Grohl once said Florence + the Machine made him cry “like a fucking baby” with their Glastonbury cover of Foo Fighters’ ‘Times Like These’. Pretty understandable really: the disappointment of missing a milestone show he’d spent months psychologically prepping for, then the healing power of hearing Ms Welch belt out a touching tribute rendition of one of the Foos’ best-loved songs. “Dave, if you’re listening, we love you, we all love you!” Flo told Worthy Farm, before a jubilant, trumpet-filled take on the track, that Dave said “melted my fucking heart.” But how do other artists’ covers of Foo Fighters songs compare? Here’s our pick of the bunch…
Prince – ‘Best Of You’
There’s a little bit of history to this version of ‘Best Of You’, part of Prince’s halftime show at the Super Bowl in 2007. He strongly objected to Foo Fighters’ cover of ‘Darling Nikki’ in 2003, and eight years later he declared that covering songs should be illegal. Taylor Hawkins, the Foos’ drummer construed Prince’s cover as a possible “Fuck you” to the band – or just a sign that he loved the song. “Either way,” he went on, “it was pretty amazing to have a guy like Prince covering one of our songs — and actually doing it better than we did.” That’s pretty much all you need to know about his powerhouse performance – watch it here, six minutes in.
Paramore – My Hero
You might expect Paramore to amp up the Foo Fighters sound even more, but this acoustic version concentrates more on the melody, with Hayley Williams’ voice steering clear of its limits. It was recorded for the soundtrack of 2006 superhero reboot Superman Returns, on which it really stands out – especially in the company of songs by Plain White Ts and Sara Routh.
Frank Turner – ‘All My Life’
Radio 1’s Live Lounge was the setting for this anglicised cover of ‘All My Life’, but beyond the obvious differences in accent is a nuanced acoustic cover, with Frank backed by mandolin, finger-clicks, a bass and a couple of guitars. Plus, although Turner’s voice doesn’t quite have the grit of Grohl’s, he really puts it to the test.
Jaws – ‘Everlong’
With a band like indie-pop scrappers Jaws you probably wouldn’t expect something as heavy as the Foos’ original anyway, but this doesn’t even come close. It’s spaced-out and languid, with atmospheric, echoing beats replacing clashing drums and chill electric guitar barely grazing medium decibel levels. It really works.
Ryan Adams – ‘Times Like These’
“He was able to continue doing what he loved even though he was totally broken,” said Ryan Adams just last week in Sydney, amazed at Grohl’s capacity to play the remainder of his Gothenburg gig in June after breaking his leg. “This is for that bastard.” What follows the wry commentary is another cover of ‘Times Like These’, but where Florence’s was big and bolshy, Adams’ is simple and soulful.
Stereophonics – ‘Best Of You’
I’ve got another confession to make… Stereophonics are pretty good here. Playing live on Irish radio, they’ve sensibly gone for a calm, acoustic version of ‘Best Of You’, avoiding busting Kelly Jones’ vocal cords from having to scream “the best, the best, the best” over and over again.
The Gaslight Anthem – ‘Everlong’
Brian Fallon took on ‘Everlong’ in the Radio 1 Live Lounge not so long ago, with powerful results. Unlike Jaws’ bug-eyed effort, Fallon’s was a no-frills affair, and although the acoustic guitar and tentative voice might make it sound a little too basic, there’s a depth of emotion in the New Jersey-born cult hero’s performance that makes for something genuinely affecting.
Faith No More – ‘All My Life’
It’s not really clear whether this is a tribute or a mockery of Foo Fighters, who cancelled their appearance at Germany’s Rock Werchter this year just like they did for Glastonbury. It’s very short, and has the band segueing from ‘All My Life’ into The Trashmen’s 1963 irritator, ‘Surfin’ Bird’, before reaching the band’s own song ‘Midlife Crisis’. Homage or piss-take? You decide. Either way, we dig.