Thursday 9 April 2009

Cover songs: make or break?

There are quite a few famous bands that cover other artist's songs. Some songs work out quite good, other times you wish they hadn't touched the original.

Why would any established band or artist do a cover song? No Doubt recently released a cover version of Adam and the Ants' "Stand and Deliver" and in the passed released their version of Talk Talk's "It's My Life". I wish they hadn't.

Sometimes a band releases a cover version of songs they really like or to show their admiration of a particular artist. Unfortunately in many cases the cover itself is worse than the original. Either because it is only an exact copy of the original or because in their interpretation of the song one of the essential ingredients is missing. Listening to songs like Pet Shop Boys - "Where The Streets Have No Name" (U2) and Madonna - "American Pie" (Don McLean) makes you wonder "What were they thinking!".

So are cover songs a no no? Not necessarily. But the orinal song needs to be handled with care. There's more to it than just copying the notes. It should be produced and arranged as a new song. And it should fit it into the artist's own style. This can result in some great cover songs:

It can even make people forget about the original artist. How many people know the original Zutons version of "Valerie" by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse?

But for a band it's better to think twice when trying to touch a famous and legendary song. The risk of crash and burn is too high. Watch, listen and weep:

Britney Spears - "I Love Rock N' Roll" (The Arrows, made famous by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts)


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