David Bowie led the way for mainstream rock ‘n’ roll musicians to play around with gender bending. So naturally, his catalog of songs provides plenty of opportunities for female performers to build upon his musical foundations. In honor of his 67th birthday, here are ten examples of how Bowie’s songs transcend gender as much as they offer room for other musicians to put their own stamp on his compositions.
The Last Town Chorus — “Modern Love”
Bowie’s “Modern Love” is a full-throttle dance track, but The Last Town Chorus’ cover slows it down to a woeful ballad, highlighting both lead singer Megan Hickey’s gorgeous voice and her lap steel guitar.
Tally Brown — “Heroes”
Blues singer Tally Brown was a fixture in Andy Warhol’s Factory, and she made her mark on the New York cabaret scene in the 1970s. Here, she does a dramatic and compelling cover of “Heroes,” eventually transitioning from English into French and German.
Tori Amos — “After All”
Somehow, Tori Amos can turn any song into something that sounds like it was written by Tori Amos.
Warpaint — “Ashes to Ashes”
LA-based Warpaint offer a pretty straightforward cover of the Scary Monsters opening track, but their fuzzy, psychedelic sound adds a lightness to what was originally a pretty dark song.
Tegan and Sara — “Rebel Rebel”
The twin sisters’ version of Bowie’s classic dance jam turns, awesomely, into a bratty girl-band cover.
Tina Turner — “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”
Bowie’s anthem from Paul Schrader’s film is an amazing slow-burner (unless you prefer the pop-rock version re-recorded for Let’s Dance, in which case you’re a silly person with wrong opinions), and Turner knocks it out of the park and makes it even sexier than the original.
Tina Turner — “1984”
Look, I don’t make the rules here: when Tina Turner does a Bowie cover, you share it, even when it’s not particularly great.
Rilo Kiley — “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”
Jenny Lewis is no Bowie, that’s for sure, but if you like soulless mid-aughts indie rock covers, this one’s for you.
Carla Bruni — “Absolute Beginners”
France’s first lady delivers a smoky vocal to Bowie’s title track from Julien Temple’s film (in which he also starred). It’s a simple, yet lovely, piano-driven cover.
Barbra Streisand — “Life on Mars”
Yeah, this happened, and it’s exactly what you’d expect: overproduced and histrionic.