Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cover Songs

For the most part, I don’t care for cover songs. I feel like they’re a bastardization of a band’s original intention. Especially when the songs are half-heartedly gimmicked for some unrefined and oblivious show, like Across the Universe. Singers often just go through the motions of repeating notes and words, without even attempting to feel the genuine emotions that originated them. They leave out entire parts, fabricate others, and generally rob whatever subtleties made the song special in the first place.

A friend once told me she likes cover songs, because it allows her to see what another band saw in the original song. It’s a way for a band to emphasize everything they thought was special in it, and show that to other people. If a majority of bands worked this way, I could appreciate that sentiment. But the harsh reality is most cover songs are born out of neglect or apathy or a lack of creativity.

If you see something special in a song—an emotion, an image, a thought—why not truly make it your own and create your own song to expand upon it? Why simply distort someone else’s carefully crafted masterpiece in order to save yourself from the burden of artistic creation? My cynical answer is probably because most singers doing covers lack artistry (see my post on American Idol).

Some cover songs have true passion, merit, and respect—like Joe Crocker’s widely known and rightly appreciated cover of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from my Friends,” or Jeff Buckley’s serene and soulful rendition of “Hallelujah.” But for the most part, covers are poorly thought-through disrespectful attempts to capitalize on someone else’s work. And I generally try to avoid them.

7 comments:

  1. cover songs, when they're good, they're GOOD though

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  2. I couldn't agree more.
    Cover songs can be good, but unfortunately most are not. Johnny Cash's cover of 'Hurt' by Nine inch nails is another good example.

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  3. I don't tend to appreciate cover songs, but some which take a song and present it in a different way can sometimes work out better than the original. Can't think of an example off the top of my head.

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  5. Oh, God...Across the Universe *throws up*

    Following!

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  6. I agree with you for the most part, but I feel like some cover songs (but very few) are truly unique from the original and have a lot of the artist's personal tastes in them.

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