There is no doubt that Talking Heads were an influential band. Their sound was totally new, and they were at the forefront of the “New Wave” movement (a term that a record label, not the band, came up with.)
As a band, immense influence means a couple of things. It means that record labels start giving you more leeway in the studio, it means that you will undoubtedly sell more tickets to your shows, and it means that people are going to cover your music.
Here are some notable Talking Heads covers that have emerged over the years, the good, the bad, and the odd:
1. Tom Jones and The Cardigans – “Burning Down the House”
Welsh soccer mom dream, Tom Jones, attempted to resurrect his career in 1999 with Reload, a collection of 15 collaboration/cover songs with (mostly) younger artists – in this case, The Cardigans. “Burning Down the House” from the Talking Heads album Speaking in Tongues (1983) was the opening track. Gross.
2. The Staple Singers – “Slippery People”
To be honest, anything The Staple Singers do is awesome, but the call-and-response style chorus of “Slippery People” (Speaking in Tongues, 1983) that is so common in Talking Heads music suits The Staple Singers perfectly.
3. The Lumineers – “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)”
The folk rockers who made the words “Ho” and “Hey” so famous covered this song from the Talking Heads album Speaking in Tongues (1983). What is most impressive is that they said neither “Ho” nor “Hey” the entire time!
4. Gomez – “Road to Nowhere”
This British indie rock band took this song from the Talking Heads album Little Creatures (1985). This certainly isn’t the best cover ever but, as we’ve heard here, it’s definitely not the worst.
5. The Bobs – “Psycho Killer”
I could have uploaded the mp3 version of this song, but then you wouldn’t get to see this video from Seattle-based a cappella quartet, The Bobs. Where would the fun be in that?
So, there you go. I hope you enjoyed this sample of Talking Heads covers. Now, do yourself a favor and listen to the originals. You know, cleanse the pallet.