Monday, 2 July 2012

Cover up?

Is there a song out there that should never ever be covered? 

We could share opinions and open up a debate that would last longer than the current Leveson inquiry. So what gives people the rights to cover a song. If it were a book it would be considered copyright infringement if the storyline were similar in anyway. You were punished at school for using someone else's work. I'm also sure you would face charges of plagiarism if you were to display a copy of a Monet painting as new work.

Many artists have released covers. Even more perform live covers at concerts. It has became part and parcel of being a music artist. I shall not get started on the television talent shows that provide the conveyor belt of covers that plagues the music industry of today.    

However is it lazy or is it in homage to the original work?

Some artists have no choice but to release cover songs as they are directed by their record company to do so. I would imagine that in some cases the original artists are thankful for the royalties, as well as the new found exposure to a new  audience of their sometimes forgotten work. Cover versions are great if the new artist puts their own spin onto the song. An artist who does nothing to the original work to me is lazy and not very artistic at all.

There have been many, many bad covers. My opinion of the worst cover to be released is Ronan Keating's version of "Fairytale of New York" originally by The Pogues featuring Kirsty McColl. I am undecided as to which reason I hate it for more. The fact that he misses out the "You scumbag, you maggot. You cheap lousy faggot"  lyric when singing it live. Or that he looks so happy and smug when singing. Unlike Shane McGowan who groans out the lyrics with such passion that to me cannot be imitated or replaced by a grin. 

One of the most successful cover versions in my opinion is Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" Originally by Leonard Cohen. It may even be unknown to many that it is indeed a cover. It's poignant, it's perfect and sang with emotion and clarity that was missing from the original. It is the song that raised Buckley's profile to new heights. Jeff's voice took Cohen's lyrics and exposed them to a new generation. Jeff Buckley's untimely death leaves the song even more haunting.

 So in answer to my intro. I believe that in respect to all artists despite how amazing I believe original songs may be someone may come along in the future and make it even better. 

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