Aug 312023
Amanda Palmer and The Righteous Babes — The Last Day of our Acquaintance (Sinéad O’Connor cover)

You’re going to notice a theme here. We have the usual grab-bag included below (see “Best of the Rest”), but, for our featured covers up top, it’s all Sinéad. There were so many wonderful tributes performed, often in concert and always powerful and moving. Many did “Nothing Compares 2 U,” technically a Prince cover but really a Sinéad song now and forever, but others selected from elsewhere in her catalog. Of this one, which just came out Tuesday, Amanda Palmer wrote, “This song means a great deal to me, as does the artist who penned it, along with everything she still stands for.” A portion of the money from sales will be donated to The Irish Women’s Survivor Support Network.

Ben Howard — Black Boys on Mopeds (Sinéad O’Connor cover)

Ben Howard did “Black Boys on Mopeds,” a powerful anthem about police killing Black men written decades before Black Lives Matter. As always, Sinéad was way ahead of everyone else.

Damien Rice — Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinéad O’Connor cover)

This is in many ways the most impressive cover of the bunch. Everyone else here presumably rehearsed their cover, but in this video, you can see Damien Rice learn the sad news in real time from crowd yells. As he processes the information, he quietly strums around on his guitar, figuring out the chords for “Nothing Compares 2 U” in front of a live audience. A minute later, he sings it for the first time ever, entirely impromptu. A powerful moment in the audience, and just as powerful watching the whole thing unfold on YouTube.

Foo Fighters & Alanis Morissette — Mandinka (Sinéad O’Connor cover)

“For a beautiful woman, with high intelligence and deep empathy, way ahead of her time,” Alanis says before joining Foo Fighters live onstage in Japan to belt the hell out of “Mandinka.” A number of covers here tend toward the slow and reverent; this one is a reminder that Sinéad could rock.

Jann — A Perfect Indian (Sinéad O’Connor cover)

This cover, by young Polish pop singer Jann, actually has a couple YouTube reaction videos. Has to be the only one on this list you can say that about. With the heights Jan Rozmanowski’s voice hits here, you can see why.

Melissa Etheridge — Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinéad O’Connor cover)

The first of a trio of “Nothing Compares 2 U” covers, but by the one person who actually knew her. Etheridge tells stories of meeting Sinéad at the 1989 Grammys, when they were competing in the same category. She also speaks frankly of how the media and public treated Sinéad, quoting a friend saying that, in a war, someone always has to be the first to lie across the barbed wire.

Our Lady Peace — Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinéad O’Connor cover)

A much more hard-rocking “Nothing Compares 2 U,” really channeling an ‘80s power-ballad. Lead singer Raine Maida wrote, “The epitome of courage in an artist. Shaped my musical journey from a young age. She was a powerhouse that won’t soon be forgotten but discovered & reborn through her songs. Still one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.”

P!nk and Brandi Carlile — Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinéad O’Connor cover)

“When I was a little girl, my mom grew up in Atlantic City and I used to go down to the Ocean City Boardwalk with my ten dollars and I would make a demo tape,” P!nk told the crowd in Cincinnati. “I would make a little cassette tape and imagine it was my demo for the record company. And it would always be either ‘Greatest Love of All’ by Whitney Houston or ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ by Sinead O’Connor. So in honor of Sinead, and in honor of my very, very talented friend Brandi Carlile I asked her if she would come out here and sing this song with me.”

The Swell Season w/ Lisa O’Neill – Three Babies (Sinéad O’Connor cover)

The loss of Sinéad was felt all over the world, but nowhere more so than in her native Ireland. You saw that in Damien Rice’s reaction earlier, and you see it in another Irishman’s here, Glen Hansard, who tears up talking about O’Connor’s work and influence. “She’s gone, and she went too soon, and Ireland doesn’t know what to do,” he says, “because Ireland spent a long time ridiculing her and ignoring her and silencing her and putting her away.” He then brings another Irish singer, Lisa O’Neill, up to join the band on “Three Babies.”

Third Eye Blind — The Emperor’s New Clothes (Sinéad O’Connor cover)

‘90s radio hitmakers Third Eye Blind are maybe not the first band you’d expect to cover Sinéad, much less to choose a relatively deep cut most people weren’t covering. Like the Our Lady Peace one earlier, it’s a reminder how hard she could rock.

Tori Amos — I Am Stretched On Your Grave/Three Babies (Sinéad O’Connor covers)

Covers queen Amos tackled not one but two O’Connor tunes on stage in San Francisco. Elsewhere in that same show, she spoke about Sinéad, calling her “one of the most important songwriters.” She adds, “She warned us about the abuse in the church, and most of the world did not listen. But she was right.” before playing her own related song “Crucify.”

The Best of the Rest

Adrianne Lenker (Big Thief) — Minneapolis (Lucinda Williams cover)

Beach Fossils — Latch (Disclosure Feat. Sam Smith cover)

Claire Rosinkranz — Kiss It Better (Rihanna cover)

Cole Gallagher — Sugarland (Bruce Springsteen cover)

Dave Gahan — Mother of Earth (The Gun Club cover)

Georgia – Groovejet (Spiller cover)

kd lang — Because of You (Tony Bennett cover)

Knuckle Punk — Losing A Whole Year (Third Eye Blind cover)

Less Than Jake — Come Dancing (The Kinks cover)

Meshell Ndegeocello — I’ll Keep It with Mine (Bob Dylan cover)

My Morning Jacket w/ Margo Price & John Oates — I Feel the Earth Move (Carole King cover)

New Friends — High and Dry (Radiohead cover)

Nicki Bluhm feat. Sam Blasucci — Baby Don’t Go (Sonny & Cher cover)

Olen — Heartbeat (Childish Gambino cover)

Sara Noelle — Dry the Rain (The Beta Band cover)

Seraina Telli — Spaceman (4 Non Blondes cover)

Shane Smith & The Saints ft. Hayes Carll — Pancho and Lefty (Townes Van Zandt cover)

Soccer Mommy – Soak Up The Sun (Sheryl Crow cover)

Sparklehorse — Listening to the Higsons (Robyn Hitchcock cover)

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists — Inwards (Big Country cover)

Wolves At The Gate – Stupid Deep (Jon Bellion cover)

Check out previous months’ best covers lists.

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