By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
"Cars" by Kirb & Chris: These Oakland rappers execute a brilliant conceit on their album, Niggaz and White Girlz: spitting rhymes over seminal '80s tracks by XTC, the B-52's and the Cure. Our personal favorite is the Simple Minds-aping "Don't You (Take All My Money)." But the duo's self-proclaimed "new-wave thuggin'" reaches tongue-twisting heights on its version of "Cars," which features a slightly off-key rendition of the chorus, but plenty of rollin' and scratchin' heart.
"Down in the Park" by the Foo Fighters: When he's not writing perfect pop-rock hooks, head Foo Dave Grohl indulges his inner new-wave freak: The Foo Fighters have covered both the Psychedelic Furs' "Sister Europe" and Numan's "Down in the Park," with the latter faithfully reflecting Numan's paranoia.
"I Dream of Wires" by Jim Collins: This Numan disciple breaks out his stompy boots and harsh German industrial records for this nasally cover, found on A Dark Celebration (an album also highlighted by a swanky jazz rave-up of "Cars").
"Cars" by Sugar Beats: This kiddie-sanitized version of "Cars" is a bizarre mix of obnoxious -- its cloying toddler vocals make Gwen Stefani sound like Grace Jones -- and twisted experimentation; check the almost Art of Noise/Devo-like keyboard/vocal weirdness during the chorus.
"We Are So Fragile" by Bis: The Numan tribute album Random, Vol. 1 is often a repository of plasticine electro-heads -- Jesus Jones and EMF, come on down! -- but Scottish brat-punks Bis do something quite different. By cranking up the cheerful skiffle beats for their contribution, they ensure that "Fragile" is more Madness than Moog.
"Are 'Friends' Electric?" by Chris Whitley & the Bastard Club: Reiter In, the recent posthumous album release from singer-songwriter Chris Whitley, features a dirt-floor-grimy version of "Electric" that's full of distortion and electric-blues boogie instead of Polymoog soul.
"Where's Your Head At?" by Basement Jaxx: While not a cover, per se, the pastiche-happy dance act does amp up the chorus of "Head" with a swerving sample of Numan's "M.E." (For added effect, see the bizarre video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNsyaG_rTzE.)