Australian songs covered by Eddie Vedder, Arctic Monkeys & more!
You always hear of Aussie bands loving bands from America and the UK, but very rarely do we hear of the reverse: international bands loving Australian songs!
Read up on all the latest features and columns here.
Many big acts from around the world love bands from Down Under, and have covered their songs on many occasions, take a gander below of the best foreign covers of songs from Australia.
I Started A Joke – Faith No More
Mike Patton and Co. covered this Australian songs for their 1994 album King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime. Originally by honorary Aussies The Bee Gees, Faith No More definitely gave ‘I Started A Joke’ their own distinct flare, with Mike Patton flaunting some pretty big David Bowie vibes in his vocals.
Coupled with a bizarre music video, they do a great job making it their own – you wouldn’t be blamed if you thought this song was theirs to begin with.
You’re The Voice – Heart
John Farnham’s ’80s classic and our unofficial national anthem ‘You’re The Voice’ was covered by the American rock group on their 1991 live album; Rock The House Live! It was a staple of their 1990 tour Brigade, and fans loved it that much, the band recorded it for their album the following year.
Besides obvious female vocals, there are minimal differences to their cover, they don’t really make it their own – despite that, it’s still is a pretty great cover. Check out Heart’s version of ‘You’re The Voice’ below.
Friday On My Mind – David Bowie
Originally penned by trailblazing Sydney band The Easybeats, David Bowie covered this 1966 Australian song for his 1973 album, Pin Ups. His cover was universally loved, especially by lead guitarist of The Easybeats, Harry Vanda, who stated that Bowie’s version of their hit is the only cover he ever liked.
Bowie toured Australia many times throughout his long career, and notably took to the outback to film the iconic music video for his Nile Rodgers and Steve Ray Vaughan-assisted cut ‘Let’s Dance’. Check out his cover of ‘Friday On My Mind’ below.
You Shook Me All Night Long – Mumford and Sons
There’s probably no two bands more different than AC/DC and Mumford and Sons, but the British folk group really do pull off an awesome rendition of ‘You Shook Me All Night Long.’
Armed with electric guitars rather than their signature acoustic and bluegrass setup and performing with an audience member, they definitely bring some big energy to the table, and it’s a lot of fun seeing them try their hand at this Aussie hard rock classic.
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards – Arctic Monkeys
Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner have expressed their admiration for each other on many occasions, so it was only a matter of time before one of these indie heroes covered the other.
Performed for Like A Version and armed with just an acoustic guitar, this cover sees Turner transform Kevin Parker’s psych-pop Australian song into a slick ballad, with his unique vocals injecting a smokey and soulful feel into the track to turn it into something else entirely.
What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out? – Nothing But Thieves
One of the best-received covers on Triple J’s Like A Version series, Nothing But Thieves’ take on this Gang Of Youths epic certainly deserves a spot on this list.
The English alt-rockers really made this song their own, and got behind the emotion conveyed in the original. Frontman Conor Mason’s brooding vocals really help you get lost in the lyrics of the original track, while the rough and raw instrumental of the track makes this cover one to remember.
Down Under – Pennywise
Not hailing from Down Under didn’t stop this American punk band from covering one of our most universally recognised songs. Originally by Men At Work, Pennywise covered ’80s classic this for their beloved 1999 album, Straight Ahead, spicing up the song with their trademark brand of power chord heavy skater punk.
Pennywise certainly aren’t strangers to Australia – they’d already toured around five times before they released this cover, and were in the country back in January 2020 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Straight Ahead to the delight of fans old and new. Check it out below.
Throw Your Arms Around Me – Eddie Vedder
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder has previously stated that this seminal Hunters and Collectors track ranks highly among his favourite songs of all time, and has covered it on numerous occasions.
The 1985 song has united Aussies all around the world for years: if ‘You’re The Voice’ fails as our second national anthem, then ‘Throw Your Arms Around’ would be a hot contender for a Plan B, and unlike our actual anthem, we actually all know the second verse lyrics to ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’.
Eddie’s covered it at many solo shows, but the version he played with the song’s original writer Mark Seymour simply can’t be beaten – watch that performance below.
Nice Boys – Guns N’ Roses
Originally by Rose Tattoo, Guns N’ Roses covered this track for their poorly received follow up to Appetite For Destruction, GN’R Lies.
Being the era that it was, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Guns N’ Roses would go and cover Rose Tattoo – in many ways, Axl seems like a long lost son of Angry Anderson, and there’s obvious similarities between the two band names.
The cover became a setlist staple for the Gunners, and they even performed it with Angry on their 2017 reunion tour of Australia – watch that version below.
Hand On Your Heart – José González
The Argentinian fingerpicking maestro covered this Kylie Minogue Australian song for his Australian Tour EP, released in the leadup to his 2005 tour of Down Under.
He of course made this song sound like it was one of his own, taking Minogue’s pop-tastic melody and embellishing it with a sincere sense of melancholy to make for quite a memorable rendition.
This became a song frequently included in his setlists, not only playing it in Australia but in shows all around the world, proving the power of a good cover when chosen well.
Keep reading about Australia’s love for covers.