10 alternative artists who gave iconic ’80s classics a modern update
We're well aware that there's a bit of an '80s renaissance going on in pop culture. From soundtracking shows to influencing alternative artists with synth-pop and darkwave, the music of the decade is certainly a prominent force in the modern age.
Of course, many artists (some more than others) are quick to pay tribute to their predecessors in the form of song covers. And, as fans, we couldn't be more stoked on the intertwining of classic hits with modern sounds—especially when they're executed flawlessly.
Here are 10 times alternative artists covered '80s songs and totally killed it.
“Take Me Home Tonight” – Every Avenue (Eddie Money cover)
There's a quality to Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight" that demands both anthemic energy and marked sentimentality. So, naturally, Every Avenue were a perfect band to take on the '80s rock hit. They released the cover in 2010 under the Punk Goes Classic Rock compilation album. If you notice another familiar voice in the mix, it's because Juliet Simms made a guest appearance.
“Romeo And Juliet” – The Killers (Dire Straits cover)
There's no outperforming Dire Straits under their own brand of '80s rock. But, if any band were ever going to put up a fighting chance, it would be the Killers. Brandon Flowers' unique, gritty vocals bring a haunting air to the already viscerally emotional track. It's a new experience altogether and not one that ever runs the risk of being underappreciated.
“99 Red Balloons” – Goldfinger (Nena cover)
Once upon a time, we would have thought that Nena's "99 Red Balloons" was enough of a favor for the world. Then Goldfinger went and put an alternative spin on the '80s hit and changed our reality forever. The rendition was such a knockout that it even earned a place on the soundtrack of the 2000s cult classic film EuroTrip.
“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – New Found Glory (Simple Minds cover)
If we ever doubted that New Found Glory were capable of anything, this rendition would put all that to rest. The band took on Simple Minds' classic track "Don't You (Forget About Me)" for their 2007 covers album, From The Screen To Your Stereo Part II. What's incredible is that they manage to stay so true to the original song while still incorporating punk-rock and easycore elements.
“Under Pressure” – My Chemical Romance and the Used (Queen and David Bowie cover)
It was an iconic moment in '80s music when Queen and David Bowie united for "Under Pressure." So for two iconic alternative bands such as My Chemical Romance and the Used to come together for a cover felt deeply emblematic. The collaboration first occurred in 2005 via a live performance on MTV2 to benefit tsunami relief. However, the Used later released a studio version as a bonus track on In Love And Death, and MCR dropped it as a single in 2005.
“You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” – Blaqk Audio (Dead Or Alive cover)
If you're not an '80s pop fan and you listen to Blaqk Audio's cover of “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record),” you might mistake it as an original. It's easy to do, given the duo's propensity for the new-wave style of the decade. Admittedly, it seems almost blasphemous to say that their rendition is better than Dead Or Alive's preceding version, but the danceability is totally on par.
“True Colors” – All Time Low (Cyndi Lauper cover)
Listening to Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors," you wouldn't expect it to translate to pop punk... Or anything inside the alternative realm, really. Just leave it to All Time Low to execute it so successfully. It's a notable divergence from the original style, swapping out downbeat emotionality for something far more energized. That said, the essence of the original track still shines through.
“Bad Reputation” – Avril Lavigne (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts cover)
If there were ever a musical embodiment of the phrase "Yas, queen!," it would certainly have to be Avril Lavigne's rendition of "Bad Reputation." Originally by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, the track is already a beacon of female empowerment and punk edge. Throw the pop-punk princess into the mix, though, and it certainly reenergizes the sentiment for a new generation (no pun intended).
“Africa” – Weezer (Toto cover)
Because a Weezer cover of Toto's "Africa" wasn't inherently awesome enough, they went and roped "Weird Al" Yankovic into its video accompaniment. The result was the culmination of all of our wildest 2000s dreams. We're honestly shocked that it took them until 2018 to come out with it, though it was clearly worth the wait. The track earned RIAA gold status by March 2019.
“Take On Me” – Reel Big Fish (a-ha cover)
The world would have been a better place if ska punk was more of a prominent force in the '80s and earlier. Reel Big Fish proved this when they first covered a-ha's epic pop hit "Take On Me" in 1998. Prior to the rendition, we never knew how much the track would benefit from some horns. Now, we hardly want to hear it without them.
What are some of your favorite '80s covers by alternative bands? Let us know in the comments!