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Cover songs (7) Thu, Jan 24, 2008
After my unfortunate purchase of a CD containing only cover songs, I've come to a realization:  Cover songs suck.  Even when you like the artist performing it, and even when you like the original song [*].  And there's a simple reason for it:  When performing a cover song, a band usually tries to mimic several aspects of the original song and the original band that performed the song.  This almost always produces bad results, simply because it's a difficult thing to do.  Each band has its own style and abilities, and those qualities often don't overlap.  In the unlikely case a cover song sounds as good as the original, a band has a good chance at becoming a cover band, which really isn't something to write home about.  Otherwise, a cover song is just a half-hearted attempt at reproducing something.  There are some exceptions to this rule, mostly when the band covering the song improves upon it in some way, or essentially recreates it.  But those exceptions are few and far between. 

[*] Or should I say, especially when you like the original song.  Cover songs I like are often covers of songs I don't like, so they're essentially new songs that happen to sound like old songs. #entertainment

Comments:
Rus Thu, Jan 24, 2008
What about Christian/Praise music?

Dave Thu, Jan 24, 2008
I have some opinions about Christian music, mostly that it's not good.  However, I often find I like the cover version of a Christian song more than the original, because bands usually add something that was lacking.

Rus Thu, Jan 24, 2008
So, because I'm trying to be a good DDHR reader, I have to say I read this previous post as well as some of the links within it.  So am I to assume you don't like Christian Music, but you would like to be called up to "cover" a praise song and become a Worship Leader Hero?  :)

(Or, you like praise music, but not Christian "pop"?)

Dave Fri, Jan 25, 2008
You got me.  I'm a two-faced jerk. 

But yes, I think it's ok to "cover" a song as a worship leader because you sort of have to.  Nobody knows the songs you make up on your own.  And no, I don't like Christian pop music.  I'd like to like it, but I just don't.

Dave Brown Fri, Jan 25, 2008
Dave I think you're just off here. Maybe you just bought a bad CD. Weren't you in fact in a cover band? Sure there are plenty of really bad cover versions of songs, mostly by Rod Stewart, but there are also plenty of songs that are covers that are awesome:
Aretha Franklin, Respect - originally Otis Redding
Guns & Roses, Live and Let Die - originally Wings
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Over the Rainbow - originally Judy Garland
Ike and Tina Turner, Proud Mary - originally CCR

There are a lot of bands and performers out there that really aren't that great at writing their own stuff, but that can perform existing songs well. Should they just pack it up and go home? Sorry Janis Joplin better luck next time.

Dave Fri, Jan 25, 2008
I agree with your examples.  But I think those are the exceptions to the rule.  Yes, I was in a band that did some cover songs and some originals.  Our cover songs were awful.  But that's how pretty much every band and every musician starts:  By mimicking someone or something they respect and admire.  But for a band to truly be good, they need to do their own stuff as well.  All the bands/artists you mentioned did great original work (except the Hawaiian guy; I don't know much/any of his work).  So, yes, I think if all you can do is cover songs, you should pack up your stuff and go home. 

And, yes, I bought a bad CD.  "Milk was a bad choice."

Rus Fri, Jan 25, 2008
Actually, I agree with you Dave(s).  I mean, well, I listen to Christian Music with "different ears."  I became a Christian in the late 80s and pretty much listened to Rush any time I could.  I remember asking people if there was anything remotely close in style and complexity, in the Christian realm.  I got one reference to a group called the Daniel Band.  I bought a cassette.  It wasn't terribly bad or terribly impressive.  I threw it away a few years ago.  When listening to Christian music, I have to rest solely on Melody and Words and sadly accept the fact that the "positive alternative" stations play to masses and do not try to bring in anything "risky."  Thus we are left with less choice.  (And besides, with a 20 song play list, how much can you expect the envelope to be pushed?)

(There are SOME good covers though)


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