Cover bands are nothing new. Symphonies have been covering Mozart, Beethoven and Bach for hundreds of years. The Rolling Stones and lots of other sixties acts started out covering the blues. But the modern rise of cover bands from tavern corner dwellers and wedding singers to chart topping hit makers seems to me to date back to the mid-90s and the arrival of Me First & The Gimme Gimmes who started releasing punk covers, that is covers of songs done by punks. That was also nothing new if you think back to Sid Vicious covering Frank Sinatra, or The Jam covering Marthe and the Vanellas. But where in the past acts had usually done one-off cover songs, here was a band that did only covers. And not at weddings (bar mitzvahs yes, weddings not so much).
Still, since then it seems that the cover genre has exploded with Reel Big Fish doing ska covers, Richard Cheese doing lounge covers, Nouvelle Vague doing ... well whatever the hell it is that Nouvelle Vogue does.
Anyhow, I've tried to pick covers that hopefully will surprise you in one way or another.
The Hot Rats -- (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right To Party (Beastie Boys)
Oasis -- To Be Someone (The Jam)
Garbage -- Butterfly Collector (The Jam)
Graham Coxon -- All Mod Cons (The Jam)
The Editors -- Road To Nowhere (Talking Heads)
Scissor Sisters -- Take Me Out (Franz Ferdinand)
The Muffs -- Kids In America (Kim Wilde)
Matthew Swee & Susanna Hoffs -- And Your Bird Can Sing (The Beatles)
Oasis -- Here Comes The Nice (Small Face)
Mad Parade -- Mother's Little Helper (The Rolling Stones)
The Ramones -- Substitute (The Who)
The Hot Rats -- Lovecats (The Cure)
Green Day -- My Generation