With or Without You is undeniably one of U2’s most recognized songs, and I’d actually argue that It’s their signature piece – that’s definitely open to debate, though. What isn’t debatable is the epic and far-reaching influence the song has had, and it’s one of U2’s most covered songs. Listed below, you’ll find three different and rewarding versions of U2’s first American #1.
Breathe Carolina – The first time I ever heard this, my jaw literally dropped when the chorus “dropped” for the first time, with those screamo vocals over the techno beat – holy cow! Really unique and intense. On one hand, I think that it’s a shame that “kids these days” don’t know how to express emotion other than to scream. On the other, I LOVE a good scream, and it’s really an incredible experience to hear this song, so introspective and thoughtful in the original, performed like this with the singer’s voice open full-throttle. This is a magnificent cover. I love it so much that I actually sought out other music from this band after hearing this.
Eyeshine – The comments below this video on YouTube lead me to believe that this song was recorded almost as a joke – the band even go so far as to say that they weren’t “making fun of anyone but ourselves” when they recorded it. If it is a joke, I’m not laughing, because it’s brutally heavy at times, stunningly beautiful at others, and rad all the way through. The video accompanying the song is overly silly at times, and actually does a lot to diminish the effect of the song, so I recommend letting it play in the background on your first listen, so that you can absorb the full effect of the audio, but if you like heavy music at all, this cover is a freakin’ powder keg!
Twin Shadow – The best thing about this cover is the vocal delivery. With a falsetto that reminds me of Gavin Friday or Bono, the singer floats angelically above the bass driven track that gallops along like a faithful but updated version of the original. As the track progresses, there are some unusual vocal treatments applied to some of the vocals that twist the song just to the side of it’s axis, taking the desperation that drips so easily from the song and pushing it over the edge into the beginnings of madness.