There’s really only two outcomes for cover songs: They’re either nothing special or the best thing on the planet. Luckily, we’ve selected some sublime moments of bands exchanging a neat back-and-forth so you don’t have to sort through all the hellishly boring renditions out there.
1. Weezer and Toto
No, we’re not going to hit you with the overplayed (but glorious) “Africa,” instead opting for the lesser-loved “Rosanna.” As the current uncontested Kings Of Covers (see: Teal Album), Weezer first dropped this track as a troll against an online campaign tweeting them with the eminent hashtag #WeezerCoverAfrica, releasing the desired song not even a full week later. In return, Toto fired back with a cover of the beloved “Hash Pipe,” unveiling the funkified Green Album classic at a show in Vancouver last July. Alternative: If you’re tired of hearing about this, try this version of “Pumped Up Kicks,” where Foster The People reciprocated with “Say It Ain’t So.”
2. Green Day and Rancid
Having both sprung from Gilman Street, Green Day and Tim Armstrong have crossed each other’s circles dozens of times. In the past, Rancid have thrown their throaty undertaking of the acoustic eternal (and high school graduation slideshow staple) “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” into their set, with Matt Freeman taking lead. In the most ceremonious of occasions, Armstrong joined Green Day onstage two days prior to their official Rock Hall induction in 2015 for Op Ivy’s “Knowledge” and Rancid’s “Radio,” the latter of which he co-wrote with Billie Joe Armstrong over 20 years ago when he invited him to join the band as the second guitarist.
3. New Found Glory and Yellowcard
While embarking on a co-headliner in 2015, New Found Glory and Yellowcard issued an exclusive seven-inch tour split where they put their own spin on a track from the other’s latest effort. NFG slowed things down in Lift A Sail’s reflective “Illuminate,” stripping the song of its pop-punk backbone and transposing it into an acoustic ballad. Yellowcard followed suit by shifting Resurrection’s “Ready And Willing” from boisterous and buoyant to tender and touching, with a tinge of violin for added effect.
4. Rancid and NOFX
The third installment of BYO Split Series starring NOFX and Rancid differed from past efforts, this compilation being the first where the featured bands covered each other exclusively. The CD actually came in two versions, one with a green sleeve placing NOFX’s songs first and another sporting orange artwork with Rancid first. Take note of the slick bass opening in “Stickin In My Eye” as well as the faster tempo in “Olympia WA.” In an epic twist, NOFX liked their cover of “Radio” so much, they’ve incorporated it into hundreds of live sets ever since.
5. Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy
While it’s not a full-blown cover, Panic! At The Disco pulled the best prank on every emo kid in the audience when they performed at the March Madness Music Festival in 2016. After wrapping up “Victorious,” the band launched into “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” for about 30 seconds—not even finishing the iconic opening line—before Brendon Urie replied, “April Fools, motherfuckers.” In the same vein, Fall Out Boy have gotten up to some high jinks of their own, most notably when they dressed up as members of Panic! during Halloween in 2007 at The Fillmore in Miami for “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”
6. Say Anything and Saves The Day
Besides launching a co-headlining anniversary tour in 2014, Say Anything’s Max Bemis and Saves The Day’s Chris Conley celebrated their respective album anniversaries by selecting a track from the other. In honor of Through Being Cool turning 15, Bemis churned out an impressive interpretation of “You Vandal,” the utter clarity of his near spoken-word singing style making the song sound like it came straight from his band’s sophomore effort. With …Is A Real Boy reaching 10, Conley stripped back album opener “Belt” by way of acoustic guitar strumming and benign vocals.
7. Anti-Flag and Bouncing Souls
BYO Split Series rallied both Anti-Flag and Bouncing Souls for their fourth installment, having each band put their own take on one track from the other in 2002. Anti-Flag yielded a steadfast rendering of the underrated “The Freaks, Nerds, & Romantics” as well as ending the comp with the Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen In Love.” In exchange, Bouncing Souls offered a rambunctious execution of “That’s Youth” in addition to some originals and two other covers, Cock Sparrer’s “We’re Coming Back” and Sticks And Stones’ “Less Than Free.”
8. All Time Low and 5 Seconds Of Summer
Back in 2012, 5 Seconds Of Summer uploaded their delivery of “Jasey Rae,” citing All Time Low as a crucial influence in the past. All Time Low apparently digged their version, bringing guitarist Michael Clifford onstage for an almost cover of “She’s Kinda Hot” in 2015, quickly switching to Green Day’s “American Idiot.” With guitarist Jack Barakat joining 5SOS on the road during the summer of 2015 and frontman Alex Gaskarth co-writing several tracks with the band (“Kiss Me Kiss Me,” “End Up Here” and “Long Way Home,” among others), hopefully a proper cover makes its way to the surface.
9. Iggy Pop and the Black Keys
The Black Keys adopted the Stooges’ “No Fun” on 2004’s Moan EP, crafting a shorter blues-tinged version where vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach deviated from the original and got more melodic to properly translate how painfully mundane living in the Midwest can be. It may have taken some time, but Iggy Pop eventually returned the favor when he signed on to participate in Black On Blues, a tribute compilation where industry veterans paid homage to the Keys. Joining Cream drummer Ginger Baker to replicate the Akron, Ohio act’s two-man style, the duo recreated a rather faithful rendition of the fuzz-filled El Camino-era classic “Lonely Boy.”
10. The Menzingers and Bouncing Souls
This seven-inch split via Bouncing Souls’ own label Chunksaah Records offered listeners both an original and cover track from each group. Instead of boring us with some hit we’ve heard dozens of bands rework, they switched it up and picked from the other’s discography. The Menzingers went with “Kate Is Great” from the Souls’ eponymous third full-length, whereas Bouncing Souls selected On The Impossible Past’s “Burn After Writing.”
Which ones did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.