Ghost frontman Tobias Forge knows how to make someone else’s song his own, transforming tracks by everyone from Metallica and Depeche Mode to The Beatles and Abba into something wholly different and devilishly entertaining. Since their 2010 debut, Opus Eponymous, the band have released a wide range of covers, often as bonus tracks on deluxe versions of their studio albums or on EPs like 2013’s If You Have Ghost or 2016’s Popestar. Here are Ghost’s 10 best cover versions of other people’s songs.
10. I’m A Marionette (Abba)
Ghost brought the expanded version of their second album, Infestissumam, to a close with this cabaret-inspired ABBA cover. The pop icons’ original 1978 track channelled the dark satire of German composer Kurt Weill with a loping, off-kilter melody and over-the-top camp. Paying homage to Sweden’s greatest musical export with one of that band’s most cynical tracks is a very Tobias Forge move, even if Ghost’s version is more theatrical than actually catchy. Still, Forge claims that a couple of members of Abba “loved” the cover after someone from his label played it to them.
9. Waiting For The Night (Depeche Mode)
Depeche Mode have long been the go-to synth-pop goth kings for any metal band who want to show off the fact that, hey, they like things without guitars on them too. Credit to Tobias for going for a deep cut from their landmark 1990 album Violator when it came to recording bonus tracks for Infestissumam, but even guest drummer Dave Grohl has to work hard to breathe urgency into this slow, brooding reqiuem.
8. Nocturnal Me (Echo & The Bunnymen)
Liverpool post-punks Echo & The Bunnymen originally released this creeping downtempo dirge on their 1984 album Ocean Rain. In the hands of Ghost, the track plays out in simmering riffs drenched in reverb, with a spiraling organ and pointedly spooky atmospherics. Thematically, it fits neatly into Meliora’s life-without-God meditations and by quite a bit, Ghost’s version surpasses the original.
7. Enter Sandman (Metallica)
Given that Tobias Forge is a lifelong Metallica fan and James Hetfield championed Ghost since their inception, it’s hardly surprising that they should tackle a ’Tallica number - though covering the San Francisco band’s biggest and best known song was a bold move. Ghost’s version – originally aired live at Sweden’s Polar Music Prize and re-recorded for 2021’s Blacklist covers album – utterly rips, with keyboards adding vitality to the mix. If that wasn’t admirable enough, the proceeds of the cover went to the Camp Aranu’tig charity, a sleepaway camp for transgender teenagers who might otherwise be excluded from conventional summer camps.
6. Missionary Man (Eurythmics)
With its heavy religious overtones, Eurythmics’ 1986 hit was ripe for the Ghost treatment. Tobias dispensed with the original’s slow atmospheric build up and tacky harmonica solo and instead use demonic tritonal intervals to breathe a nerve-tingling malice into the signature melody. The track has been covered by countless other people, but, packed with fist-pumping riffs and a stomping, four-on-the-floor tempo, Ghost’s version outpaces them all.
5. Here Comes The Sun (The Beatles)
With its gauzy, the-mushrooms-must-finally-be-kicking-in intro and dreamy atmospherics, Ghost takes the cartoonishly upbeat Beatles classic in a sinister new direction. Layers of fuzzy riffs combine with Forge’s disembodied vocals to turn the saccharine optimism into something else entirely. Whereas the band tend to select covers that thematically align with their image, this one falls squarely into the “Ironic Covers” category — a slippery slope for many bands, but here it’s an unqualified triumph.
4. Crucified (Army Of Lovers)
With their Palace Of Versailles wigs, outrageous videos and extravagant hi-NRG 90s disco bangers, Swedish trio Army Of Lovers were flamboyant pop provocateurs par excellence. Ghost recognised the camp at the heart of their biggest hit, but replaced its sugary rush with pure malevolence. Forge hisses the verses in a sinister rasp, and the instrumental breakdown blazes with seething menace. Addictive enough to require a warning label.
3. It’s A Sin (Pet Shop Boys)
More synth-pop, only this time Ghost keep the original’s disco style rather than slow it down and ratchet up the creepiness. The original managed to both fill dancefloors and to call out the puritanical authoritarianism of the Catholic Church, which seems to regard anything that feels good as a sin – perfect fodder for Ghost, whose high-energy, power pop classic that can transform the dullest of rooms into a club.
2. If You Have Ghosts (Roky Erickson)
Roky Erickson was the troubled leader of cult 60s psychedelicists the 13th Floor Elevators, until his career was derailed by mental health issues and an enforced stint in a state hospital after being arrested for marijuana possession. This Dave Grohl-produced cover from the If You Have Ghost EP swaps out the original’s wiggy classic rock for Forge’s signature poppy sensibility and a rousing chorus. The result begs to be cranked at maximum volume while driving down the highway at sunset, windows down and destination blissfully unknown.
1. Bible (Imperiet)
The quintessential Ghost cover. Cult Swedish rockers Imperiet first released Bibel in 1986 in their native Swedish, later dropping an English language version two years later in an unsuccessful bid to extend their fame beyond the borders of the home country. Subversively dark and wholly pessimistic, the song details the rise and fall of humankind over seven days of creation— a storyline that locked in perfectly with Meliora’s overarching themes.
Hewing relatively close to the original, Ghost added lush orchestral arrangements and a full choir for the song’s towering chorus, transforming Bible into an earnest and deeply-affecting ballad. Forge hits a career high with his vocal performance, patrolling high registers that remains unexplored in previous efforts. Stunning at every turn, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this magnificent tribute for a Ghost original.