"Can we all just agree Manson is the master of covers?" So wrote one reader responding to our "What Is Marilyn Manson's Best Cover Song?" poll question. Yes, we can. Whether he's wailing away on his David Lynch–approved take on the Screamin' Jay Hawkins classic "I Put a Spell on You" or channeling his current inner goth cowboy to deliver his own version of folk traditional "God's Gonna Cut You Down," the Antichrist Superstar has a singular way of finessing the most sinister undertones out of whatever existing song he's chosen to reimagine. While his classic rendition of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" (a favorite here at Revolver HQ) surprisingly didn't make the cut, read on to find out what covers did land in the top five.
If you've taken an already eerie song and managed to somehow make it sound even more like a nightmare to the point that David Lynch decides to include it on the soundtrack to possibly the most disturbing noir thriller of the Nineties (Lost Highway, of course), you've done something so wrong it's right. Manson did just that while also dismissing the tune's then-recent Disney-fication when he dropped his chilling version of "I Put a Spell on You" back in '95.
The most recent entry on this list (released in the year of our lord 2019) features smooth country tones and an inventive, gravelly performance that makes Manson sound more outlaw that freakshow. Indeed, the shock rocker is at his most mature and contemplative here, taking on the folk tune previously popularized by Johnny Cash, sounding like a man at the edge of a reckoning with only his memories and a guitar to fight.
Of all the musicians qualified to take on one of the most iconic horror-related songs of the 1980s, perhaps nobody was more perfect than Manson. With his pale, vampiric look to his haunting, tortured wail on the chorus, the singer proved himself the ultimate honorary member of the Lost Boys with his unholy, true-to-form and enchanting cover of the 1987 Gerard McMahon classic.
Another soundtrack banger, this one from Not Another Teen Movie, Manson's take on Soft Cell's biggest hit gave the cut that patented early-Aughts industrial-rock treatment complete with a latex-dripping, debaucherous video and sizzling, heavy backbeat. If the cover once came across a bit dated, everything old is new again and Manson's "Tainted Love" sounds much like the nouveau industrial rockers dropping similarly hot jams today.
In addition to being a fan favorite and Numero Uno here, Manson's "Sweet Dreams" is one of the biggest successes of his career, launching him among the world's leading hard-rock acts when it dropped in 1998. The saccharine nostalgia of the Eurythmics' dance-floor-hit original is all but decimated by the Pale Emperor's dismal touch here, replaced instead with oozing, insidious madness that manifests visually in Manson's deeply disturbing music video. Utterly chilling from start to finish, "Sweet Dreams" is the kind of nightmare fuel fans have come to know, love and expect from their favorite lunatic shock rocker.
Below, check out our Spotify playlist of great Marilyn Manson covers: