Jan 282022

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40. Sandie Shaw – Hand in Glove

You could argue that Sandie Shaw’s “Hand in Glove” isn’t a cover at all, seeing as the singer recorded it with the Smiths themselves in 1984. She’d been one of the most successful British female vocalists of the 1960s, yet was happily retired from the pop world until she got a letter from superfans Morrissey and Marr in 1983, asking her to record one of their songs. The “Puppet on a String” and “Heaven Knows I’m Missing Him Now” star wasn’t convinced at first, but eventually got together with Marr, Joyce, and Rourke for a recording session in February ’84. She put down three tracks with the band, but felt a particular connection with what had been the band’s debut single. She accentuated it as a desperate statement of outsider love and friendship, sustaining some of its lines like Morrissey never did: “I really don’t know, and I really don’t caaaaaare.” Once it became a top 30 hit in the UK singles chart, she could be seen writhing to it on the floor of the Top of the Pops studio. A ’60s star was reborn. – Adam Mason

39. The Skints – This Charming Man

Reggae slash punk band The Skints hail from London, where the Smiths first recorded and last performed. The Skints have not officially recorded their version of “This Charming Man,” but part of its charm is the band’s noncommittal way with it: multiple live versions in intimate settings show they’ve not fully settled on an arrangement. But whether they toss in a piano break or a melodica solo, whether or not there’s a bass line to back them, it matters not. As long as Marcia Richards adds her voice into the mix, it’s all good. – Tom McDonald

38. Jeff Buckley – I Know It’s Over

Jeff Buckley was a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool music nerd and he loved The Smiths. This cover of “I Know It’s Over” was recorded in New York City in 1995 and features an uncharacteristically subtle, and at points almost coquettish, Buckley vocal performance (he doesn’t really let loose until the song’s closing minutes). It’s far airier and more meandering than the assertive original, and downright slippery in parts. In fact, if Jeff’s was the only version you’d ever heard, you might have a hard time humming it. Hard to pin down? Yes, but boy, is it beautiful. – Hope Silverman

37. She & Him – Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want

She & Him, the project of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, contributed their cover of “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” to the soundtrack of Deschanel’s romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer. The protagonists’ shared love of the Smiths plays a big part in their initial attraction, and the film features both the original, a mostly acoustic song about yearning for something good to happen, and the She & Him cover, which is more atmospheric and melancholy, with Deschanel’s voice sounding like it was recorded in the early ’60s. – Jordan Becker

36. Turner Wilkes – Girlfriend in a Coma

YouTube cover artists tend to come in two flavors – those in pursuit of fame, and those who love music. The latter, especially those who spend years playing old covers, are sincere without being sterile, and their covers feel fuller and truer to me. Turner Wilkes is a good example – he’s not in this for stardom; he just likes these songs and hopes you do too. He’s got chops, too, putting together this four-part acoustic cover of “Girlfriend in a Coma” out on the porch like it ain’t no thing. Don’t miss the dog struggling to get in in the top right panel. – Patrick Robbins

35. Sixpence None The Richer – I Won’t Share You

A cover of the final song on the final Smiths album deserves special consideration – nothing too outlandish, but nothing too devoted to the original either. Sixpence, or at least its drummer, doesn’t emulate the delicate touch that makes the original so magical. (The Strangeways, Here We Come track had no bass or drums, or even guitar, just an autoharp to strum the chords, and a wistful harmonica as the song fades out.) But that’s fine: this rendition is mostly about Leigh Nash’s vocal anyway. Her voice and Morrissey’s are complementary colors, opposites that bring out the strengths of the other. Nash follows Morrissey’s phrasing and timing…until she doesn’t. Her subtle deviations show just the right amount of freedom and guile. – Tom McDonald

34. Duncan Sheik – William It Was Really Nothing

The original song is pretty chipper for being set in a “hum-drum town,” but this version becomes more of an easy-listening song, complete with a coffeeshop acoustic guitar. Accordion sounds place that café in Paris, and towards the end the acoustic guitar ends up a little banjo-esque. We are sonically traveling all over in this one. Sheik maintains the same drawn-out pronunciation of “Will-i-am,” and it’s still hard to listen to the “fat girl” line that comes off as a judgmental question. A year after this song was released, The Smiths at least took a slightly more evolved approach to body size in women, recognizing variation without necessarily bemoaning it. – Sara Stoudt

33. Mark Ronson ft. Daniel Merriweather – Stop Me

Years before “Uptown Funk” made him a household name, Mark Ronson was an in-demand producer whose own solo efforts were well received, but not world-stopping. His second album was the terrific covers record Version, in which he recruited top singers to dig deep. You know Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie”? That Zutons cover is technically by Mark Ronson featuring Winehouse, off this record. The biggest single at the time, though, wasn’t “Valerie”; it was this version of “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before” with Australian singer Daniel Merriweather. It went to #2 on the UK charts. – Ray Padgett

32. Eurythmics – Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

“Last Night” is positively soul-crushing, the type of song one should avoid if they are feeling particularly fragile (hmmm, maybe that applies to most songs in the Smiths arsenal). This over-the-top, synthesized and fabulously chilly cover by Eurythmics will make you feel as if you’ve just walked into a Blade Runner-themed discotheque. Annie Lennox is all that matters here. Let us now stand back in awe as she blows off whatever roof was there when she walked in, while steamrolling with immaculate precision all synth-lines that dare to cross her path. – Hope Silverman

31. Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With The Thorn In His Side

Belle & Sebastian have rarely been shy about paying direct homage to The Smiths: high-contrast, staged portrait album covers; guitars that share the same jangle; their own legion of countless oddball romantics, with proper names like Judy, Sukie, and Mary Jo swimming their way through the clumsy throes of love. Though Belle & Sebastian have become something of a powerhouse live act – like The Smiths, their stage sets became even more muscular/less ramshackle as the years progressed – this live cover of “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side” evokes both bands’ comparatively innocent early days. B&S frontman and songwriter Stuart Murdoch bounces around the stage in this 2004 performance at Benicàssim, bedecked with a daisy above one ear, finding sunny splendor in The Smiths’ languishing and darkness. – Ben Easton


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  8 Responses to “The 40 Best Smiths Covers Ever”

Comments (8)
  1. The Dream Academy “Please Please Please…” didn’t make it? wow. The instrumental version was in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.

  2. What about J. Mascis’ version of “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side”?


  3. Oh my land and garters, that version of “This Charming Man” !!!

    Consider me an instant fan of The Skints forthwith.

  4. The best smiths cover is “Please please please let me get what i want” it’s not even close but according to this clown is not even in the top 40.
    It’s obviously one man’s taste but it seems like these lists are always made by people who are clueless .

  5. Dang Alex and all, those are harsh words for what I consider a well-appointed list. Sure, we may disagree on some choices, but ‘clueless’? Not even close. Ray is an astute music fan and has a better sense of these things than many.

    I’ll put it a different way: aside from this list not having what you’d like, did you discover any new versions you hadn’t heard that are cool? I sure did.

  6. A superb range of covers! One of Cover Me’s best compilations ever imho. I knew a handful of the more obvious covers (Shaw, Buckley, Ronson, Eurythmics), but so many great ones that I wasn’t aware of. Noel is right about the Skints. Who knew about Bow Wow Wow and t.A.T.u.? Twin Shadow, Dum Dum Girls, Stars. That live E.B.T.G. cover. Best discovery – for me – Mayries – simply gorgeous and makes you want to immediately investigate their catalog further. And the write-ups – warm, sometimes funny, informative, but mostly music lovers just wanting to share. Huge round of applause to all involved in pulling this together. I love this site.

  7. No Love Spit Love version of How Soon? Wow.

  8. What about Death Cab For Cutie’s cover of “This Charming Man”? It sounds a tiny bit heavier than the original version and it is enjoyable overall. I thought it was worth mentioning on this list.

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