Jan 282022

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30. Jess Cornelius & Teeth & Tongue – There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

We’ve talked about “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” before, but that certainly wouldn’t put the kibosh on anybody ever covering it again. Good thing, too, as the world would be a less well-lit place without Teeth & Tongue’s version. With Jess Cornelius singing at a lower register than Morrissey himself, and the rest of the band sounding just a few degrees warmer than the original, the song resonates at a deeper yet equally familiar level. – Patrick Robbins

29. Bow Wow Wow – I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish

This cover starts out more in your face than the original. While the original sounds sad about starting something that can’t be finished, this version is a lot less apologetic about the whole situation. This theme continues. The original has a laid-back drumbeat, while this one has a firmer and faster-paced driving force. This energy does not let up, with some added “ooh” and “ah” chants for good measure. If this is Bow Wow Wow not finishing what they started, we are left wondering, what would more sound like? – Sara Stoudt

28. t.A.T.u. – How Soon Is Now?

The rise of t.A.T.u. feels like part of some nefarious scheme. Assembled in the early ‘00s by multinational corporate forces, the Russian pop duo’s salacious backstory as purported teenage lovers was plotted, and exploited, in an attempt to stir up interest in the group. But t.A.T.u.’s take on The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” manages to rise above the improbable pairing into something unusually powerful. The song’s production is huge and inflexible, barreling forward like a Panzer. But, at least in context, “How Soon Is Now?” is also the closest thing to a genuine expression of Real Feeling that appears on all of 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane, t.A.T.u.’s debut album. The cover reads like a kind of subliminal message: t.A.T.u. channels The Smiths’ passions as their own, a secret paean, an attempt to make something real(ish), in an otherwise soulless musical void. – Ben Easton

27. Read Yellow – Bigmouth Strikes Again

Read Yellow was a punk band from Amherst, Massachusetts that was active for a few years in the early 2000s. Their “Bigmouth” comes from the terrific 2004 tribute album How Soon Is Now? The Songs Of The Smiths By…. Cursive’s “Frankly Mr. Shankly,” off that same album, is also worth checking out. So is Million Dead’ “Girlfriend In a Coma.” So is Hundred Reasons’ “How Soon Is Now?” You know what, maybe you should just track down the full album. – Ray Padgett

26. Chikita Violenta – Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others

Chikita Violenta bring a dreamier opening and prolong the instrumental intro that changes style multiple times. From subtler sounds to big arena rock jams, an uptempo drum beat builds in momentum before the band launches into the lyrics. The words are spoken in a hushed way that makes it feel like they are revealing a secret instead of the almost sing-song-y matter-of-fact way of the original. The song closes with another instrumental stretch that dramatically builds and then peters out before you are quite ready to stop rocking out. – Sara Stoudt

25. Mother Falcon – You’ve Got Everything Now

Orchestral rock ensemble Mother Falcon bring earnestness and delicacy to “You’ve Got Everything Now,” drawn from The Smiths’ self- titled debut. Though Mother Falcon’s core is a lean rock rhythm section, the group’s personnel regularly balloons to 20+ musicians with string and woodwind players. Their cerebral arrangement of “You’ve Got Everything Now” embodies the group’s billowing membership and overall adventurous approach, incorporating both symphonic textures and pointed intimacy, depending on the moment. Big emotional peaks cascade into wormy piano-led passages; strings saw through a deconstruction of the song’s chorus. Mother Falcon find new contours in “You’ve Got Everything Now,” exploring The Smiths’ impassioned rock with a thoughtful ebb and flow that’s all their own. – Ben Easton

24. Grant-Lee Phillips – Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

Grant-Lee Phillips is something of an actual troubadour and has even played one on TV (see Gilmore Girls). He really emotes on this selection from his all-covers album nineteeneighties. He dispenses with a rhythm section on this one, and replaces the Smiths’ pounding piano with a delicate nylon-string guitar. Phillips wants to reenter the dream state Morrissey writes about, with gentle synths forming a pillow of sound in support. – Tom McDonald

23. The Puppini Sisters – Panic

Tired of maudlin landfill indie kids braying of their ennui? Clearly you need a dose of Puppini. These (surprise surprise) not-sisters have been injecting their kitsch charm into all manners of genre for the better part of a decade and a half, an Andrews Sisters for our more cynical times. The shock comes from recognizing the song (the lyrics always the giveaway clue) in this format, so distinctly alien to their jaunty presentation of perfect harmonies and arrangements. This version of “Panic” is from their 2006 release Betcha Bottom Dollar, where, alongside more orthodox ’40s fare like “Mr. Sandman” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” they also chuck in “Wuthering Heights” and “I Will Survive.” – Seuras Og

22. Janice Whaley – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

Spoiler alert… what you’re about to hear is Janice Whaley. Only Janice Whaley, every textured a cappella layer. Among other things, you’ll hear how well the iconic track works from a woman’s perspective. “Simply AMAZING,” one YouTube commenter says. “I’ve never seen anything like this with gentleness, grace, and a divine performance.” He’s spot-on. The opening fades in with a low drone followed by some clickety-click finger-snap percussion; then, low thumping “bass” as the layers quickly build. Once the lyrics start, all is familiar in a dreamy, ethereal sort of way. For me, this was a standout from her labor-of-love 2010 opus The Smiths Project. The project entailed Whaley covering every song from the Smiths catalog in under a year, using only her voice and some basic sound editing. The project took hundreds of hours to complete–1,300 to be exact, or about 18 hours per track. The effort has garnered many accolades, including one from legendary producer Tony Visconti, who called the work “a very beautiful, admirable, no, ASTOUNDING a cappella album.” Morrissey’s title was inspired by aforementioned Sandie Shaw (#40)’s 1969 single “Heaven Knows I’m Missing Him Now.” – Frank Minishak

21. Twin Shadow – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

Twin Shadow’s take on The Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” blasts out of the gates sounding quite different from the original. The ’90s drums and the vocals of guest vocalist Samantha Urbani call to mind a completely different era. Eventually the man behind Twin Shadow, George Lewis, Jr., joins in the singing. When both singers combine, surrounded by the ethereal synths and electronica percussion, the song really starts to come together. For better or worse, this is when the song also abruptly ends. If ever there was a “leave them wanting more” ending, this is it. It’s a bittersweet ending for a bittersweet song. – Mike Misch


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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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