Depeche Mode are one of the most prolific electronic bands the world has ever known, influencing numerous artists from Gary Numan to Muse. Fortunately for us, this influence has manifested itself in many covers throughout the past three decades—here are some of our favourites.
Prior to the release of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" in 1989, a marketing campaign was launched with advertisements placed in the personal columns of UK regional newspapers with the words "Your own personal Jesus." Later, the ads also included a phone number one could dial to hear the song. The resulting craze helped push the single to number 13 on the UK charts, becoming one of their biggest sellers to date.
Priscilla and Elvis. Image via iconstyle
The song was inspired by Priscilla Presley's book Elvis and Me, describing a co-dependent relationship in which one worships the other.
"Personal Jesus" took on a whole new meaning in the hands of Johnny Cash, however. Included as part of his final album American IV: the Man Comes Around, it reflects his complicated life-long relationship with Christianity. With its stripped down, acoustic riff and Cash’s weary vocals, it makes for a powerful, haunting contemplation of one's internal struggle.
Read more: Johnny Cash: a life in pictures
This relentlessly bubbly piece of synthpop became Depeche Mode's first UK top ten hit and remains one of their best-known (and most annoyingly catchy) songs. It was also their first song to get a music video which is just as upbeat as the song itself: young and leather-clad, they bob up and down in what seems to be an abandoned parking garage.
The synthy earworm got a Brazil-inspired make-over from the charming French cover band Nouvelle Vague, specialising in the new wave music of the 1970s and 1980s. Their vision of the song was summery, feminine and mellow, instantly transporting you to a sunny beach—what a treat!
"Enjoy the Silence" is up there with "Just Can’t Get Enough" and "Personal Jesus" as one of the most instantly recognisable Depeche Mode hits that defined the 1990s.
The song has been covered numerous times, but one of the most unexpected renditions is that of Susan Boyle. Dropping the bouncy rhythm, and throwing in romantic piano chords and acoustic guitar, Boyle turns this into a gentle, wistful and dreamy ballad.
An honourable mention goes to Tori Amos, with her slightly darker but just as powerful take on the song, released ten years before Boyle's. Switching between two parallel keyboards (her trademark move), she elevates the song to a deeply moving, visceral experience, not missing a single note.
This 2005 hit was written by Depeche Mode's founding member Martin Gore about his children and what they must have been going through when he was getting a divorce from their mother.
The 1970s "space music" pioneers Tangerine Dream included a rather ethereal cover of the song on their 119th (!) album Under Cover which was originally conceived as a bet after the band’s promoter jokingly told them they should cover top 40 hits.
The collection also includes takes on songs by The Beatles, Eagles and even Goo Goo Dolls! If that's not eclectic, we don't know what is!
"I Feel You" marked a significant move towards a more rock-orientated sound for Depeche Mode. Barely any electronic instruments were used on the song and it’s dominated by the thumping drumbeat and aggressive guitar riffs. It also turned out to be the band's highest-charting single worldwide.
Placebo emulate Depeche Mode’s heavier rock sound quite faithfully in their rendition, with Brian Molko’s high-pitched, erratic, nasal tenor lending the song a slightly messier edge. Interestingly, both Molko and DM's vocalist Dave Gahan share the same uneven but nimble vocal quality and a similarly electrifying stage presence.
"World in My Eyes" never boasted huge success—it was the least successful single of Violator—the wildly popular album that propelled Depeche Mode into international stardom. It is, however, Andy Fletcher, the band's keyboard player and founding member's, favourite song.
The song's merits were also noticed by the iconic band The Cure who recorded a cover of the song as part of a Depeche Mode tribute album For the Masses in 1998. The collection was also graced by the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins and Deftones and drew attention of rock giants such as Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson.
Sensual and moody, Depeche Mode's “Stripped” features complex and innovative use of sampling. The underlying beat is a distorted sound of a motorcycle engine, while the central melody begins with a car's ignition starting, and ends with the sound of fireworks.
And then there’s Rammstein’s version which, to put it simply, is a doozy. The iconic German metal band recorded it in 1998 for the aforementioned tribute album For the Masses. As it turned out, "Stripped" and heavy metal were a match made in heaven with the skull-crushing guitar riffs and wild rhythm worthy of a mosh pit.
It’s a heavy and dynamic song that's unlike any other Depeche Mode cover.
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