It was obvious pretty much from the start that U2 were setting out to be the most important band in the world, not necessarily the most famous or the richest, but the most important band in the world. And there are some who would argue that they actually achieved this goal. The songs not only reflected a highly original style, they were passionate to the extreme and generally covered much deeper subject matter than most other songs out there.
Following is nonhollywood's list of best U2 covers, see what you think. If you like this list check out our other lists of covers by great artists such as R.E.M. and The Cure (song previews provided courtesy of iTunes).
Sunday Bloody Sunday by Lisa Bresnan
At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, I find this version to be heartbreakingly beautiful. I simply love the sparse piano arrangement and Lisa's voice just drips with emotion. If you don't feel the heartbreak in this one, then you must be made of stone. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)
One Tree Hill by Mike Masse
Here's a guy who's recorded about a million covers... and pretty much all of them are terrific. The emotion on this one--I mean, let's face it, Bono is one of the most emotional singers around, so if you're going to cover U2 it really helps to nail the emotion, which Mike does here, even despite the kinda rude audience chatter going on in the background during this live performance.Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by Yellowfly
The spartan arrangement of this one works really well. Again, another vocalist who can deliver the emotional goods, and that's what I'm looking for, especially in a U2 cover. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).
Love is Blindness by Trespassers William
There is another page on this website where I absolutely gush about Trespassers William, so I won't go there on this one (though I really love Trespassers William). I'll just say that I hope you agree that their slow, dreamy version of Love is Blindness is just way cool. Even though it is not my favorite U2 song, I still think that this one is way cool. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).
40 by Meshell Ndegeocello
This has always been one of my favorite U2 songs. It's been a long time since I've been to one of their concerts, so I have no idea if they still end every show with this one, but I know that I love the song. And this version which appears on a charity album for the Congo has a really cool approach that I like: in a way it's pretty much like the original (all echoey and such), yet it still manages to feel quite a bit different than the original. Perhaps it's the delicate female vocals. But I really like it. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).
With or Without You by Amy Sky
Though U2 had been gaining a bigger and bigger audience with each album, it was With or Without You that turned out to be the first gigantic super-hit of their career. So, it is only natural that there are many, many covers of this song. In my opinion, this one by Amy Sky is the best of the bunch: a gentle piano touch and deep, forlorn and tortured female vocals. I love it. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).
Sunday Bloody Sunday by Rachel Barton
This is a fantastic string instrumental version from classical artist Rachel Barton. I'm a fan of strings and one of the things that I've always enjoyed about classical music is the way that classical composers often take several different melodies and counter-melodies and weave them together--something about hearing all of those different parts going on always thrills me. So I was thrilled when I heard this arrangement of Sunday Bloody Sunday which applies a classical string quartet feel to this emotionally impactful tune. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).
With or Without You by Boyce Avenue feat. Kina Grannis
The emergence of Youtube has helped to make our time something of the golden age of cover tunes. And one of the groups that has made one heck of a mark in that golden age is Boyce Avenue. Here they team with fellow Youtuber Kina Grannis for a great rendition of With or Without You featuring some damned amazing harmonies. Great stuff. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview)
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by Martine Locke
As you've probably guessed, I really love this song and I'm so happy to have found a few covers that do it justice. This acoustic cover from Jamestowne hits it just right, leaving me with that same "desert-y" feeling that was evoked by The Joshua Tree but with a slightly different feel to it. Buy it on iTunes (or hear longer preview).