U2 is one of the most polarizing bands of the rock era. Hated by some for their over-the-top productions and slick sound, they are equally loved by others, as is evidenced by their frequently sold-out stadium shows and their over 170 million records sold. So it's no surprise that more than a few artists have admired the Irish rockers enough to record cover versions of their songs. These seven songs from across the genre spectrum are among the best.
7. Red Hill Mining Town- Dream Theater
For years, “Red Hill Mining Town” has been the calling card of the hardcore U2 fan. Described as a “forgotten song” by band members, it was the only song off the band's landmark 1987 album The Joshua Tree to never be performed live until the band did the album in its entirety on their 2017 tour. Obviously, progressive metal act Dream Theater counts themselves among that minority of fans clamoring for the song as they chose to record their own version for a fan club exclusive album.
6. In God's Country- Infamous Stringdusters
Bluegrass jammers Infamous Stringdusters have made string band covers of rock and pop songs a regular part of their live show since their formation. This cover of “In God's Country” from The Joshua Tree, was included on the band's 2010 album Things That Fly.
5. Pride (In the Name of Love)- Dierks Bentley with Punch Brothers and Del McCoury
On the surface, U2 doesn't seem like a band that would translate well to country music, but you will find numerous covers of the band's hits among country artists. When Dierks Bentley, no guitar slouch himself, decided to tackle “Pride (In the Name of Love),” he enlisted the help of some of the genre's best instrumentalists to do it justice. Joining Bentley for the track was Punch Brothers and bluegrass legend Del McCoury, whose high and lonesome vocal anchors the chorus.
4. When Love Comes to Town- Herbie Hancock with Joss Stone and Johnny Lang
When jazz pianist Herbie Hancock covered “When Love Comes to Town” on his album Possibilities he brought in help not to replicate U2's bombastic sound but to provide the blues anchor brought to the original by B.B. King. Giving Hancock an assist was blues guitar virtuoso Johnny Lang and bluesy soul singer Joss Stone.
3. Where the Streets Have No Name- Muse with The Edge
The arena-ready guitar rock sound of Muse has drawn comparisons to U2 since the beginning of their career and the band supported U2 on a portion of their 360 tour. But their true love for U2 came out at the 2010 Glastonbury Festival. When U2 had to pull out of headlining due to Bono's injury, Muse stepped in and delivered a spot-on cover of U2's “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Of course, it's easy to perfect the song's signature guitar riffs when U2 guitarist The Edge joins you on stage to play it himself.
2. Bullet the Blue Sky- Vieux Farka Toure
For all the hate U2 gets from some quarters, their extensive charity work to help poverty and famine in Africa can't be denied. In 2008, a group of some of Africa's best musicians came together to record covers of U2 songs for the album In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 with all proceeds going to the Global Fund. The best cover from the album came from Malian bluesman Vieux Farka Toure, who put his own spin on U2's searing “Bullet the Blue Sky.”
1. One- Johnny Cash
No U2 song has been covered more than “One,” from 1992's Achtung Baby. But when outlaw country legend Johnny Cash lends his voice to the song, it immediately dwarfs all other versions. Cash recorded the song with producer Rick Rubin on the third album in his American Recordings series, titled Solitary Man. While illness affected Cash's voice, the vulnerability it lent his vocals fit well with the lyrics to “One” and it quickly became a fan favorite from the album.