Ghost frontman Tobias Forge knows how to make someone else’s song his own, tackling heavy metal giants like Metallica and Iron Maiden with as much zeal as he does the likes of ABBA, Tina Turner or The Beatles. 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, 2016’s Popestar or 2023's Phantomime.
That in mind, here are Ghost’s 10 best cover versions of other people’s songs.
10. Stay (Shakespears Sister)
Recorded for the fifth entry in the Insidious franchise, Tobias Forge teamed up with that film's lead actor Patrick Wilson for their own take on Shakespears Sister's hit single Stay. The Swedes play it remarkably straight, playing on minimalism for much of the song before breaking out for the song's triumphant crescendo, and while the resulting switch doesn't feel as jarringly malevolent as the original, the band's natural inclination towards devilish mischief perfectly underpins the song's lyrical narrative about unrequited love gone sinister.
9. 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.
8. 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.
7. We Don't Need Another Hero (Tina Turner)
Ten years on from the If You Have Ghost EP, the band's tendency to chase a full-length album with a bite-size offering of fresh cuts is as reliable as Tobias dropping a reference to taints in nigh-on every show. Coming off the back of 2022's stadium rock-inspired Impera, Phantomime offered up an eclectic mix with the likes of Iron Maiden and The Stranglers rubbing shoulders with Genesis and Television.
But given Ghost's more recent inclinations towards massive pop anthems, it's no surprise that huge hitter We Don't Need Another Hero became a quick favourite, the track's driving beat and swelling moments begging for inclusion in the band's arena tour setlists. The fact the single arrived just a week before the legendary singer's passing added an extra layer of poignance to Ghost's rendition too, Tobias paying tribute to Turner in subsequent interviews.
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. 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.
3. 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.
2. 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.
1. Jesus He Knows Me (Genesis)
If you ever needed more evidence that Ghost can completely subsume a song and turn it towards their purposes, look no further than Jesus He Knows Me. The lead single of 2023's Phantomime EP might have been written by Genesis for their chart-topping 1991 record I Can't Dance, but few could argue that Phil Collins has quite the same streak of religious antagonism that our own anti-Pope does when it comes to putting the thumbscrews to hypocritical evangalists.
Couple that with the fact that Ghost soup the track up and give it a fiery engine, and even used it to introduce an entirely new character to their mythos - Father Jim Defroque - and it's fair to say Ghost well and truly did make Jesus He Loves Me their own, even slipping it into recent setlists where it sits perfectly alongside the likes of Rats, Cirice and Kaisarion.