The Importance Of Cover Songs

By Tommy Baird

cover songs

Some songs that are well known and loved are not originals. Depending what band or artist write or make the cover songs, they has the potential to reach a different audience

When I studied music performance at college, the first thing my classmates and I had to do was get a grasp of how each other played their instruments. To do this we were told to select songs (that we all agreed on) to play together as a band. It’s a great starting point for any band, as you already have a target to reach of how the song is recorded. Although some of the best covers of songs are the ones that have been broken down and completely re-written. A good example of this is radio one live lounge albums. 

The Live Lounge is a segment on the British radio station  Originally hosted by Jo Whiley on her mid-morning radio show and then by Fearne Cotton from 2009 till 2015. It exhibits well-known artists usually performing one song of their own and one by another artist, in an acoustic format. The ‘Live Lounge’ itself is also a physical room in the Radio 1 studios, from where some of the performances are broadcast; however, due to its size, many are done from the BBC Maida Vale Studios. The songs chosen as cover versions are often a completely different genre to that which the artist usually performs, and offer a new perspective on the original.

Fun Fact: Jamie Cullum’s cover of Pharrell William’s ”Frontin’” led to Cullum being signed to Pharrell’s label Star Trak when played to him at a later visit to The Jo Whiley Show.

Growing up my father showed me a band called ‘me first and the gimme gimmes’ who would transform a lot of well known songs, (not just from the charts but from films and musicals,) into fast paced punk songs. I later came to learn that a great love of my youth ‘NOFX’ shared the same front man, and would even go the lengths of performing twice one night, a set in each band! Years ago when talking to a work friend, they introduced me to a CD bought in South Africa; the beat-mass by ‘rubberband.’ It was a collection of Christmas songs covered in the style of various Beatles songs, and still can not be found easily on eBay or Amazon.(Perhaps for good reason.) A band I was lucky enough to see a few years ago the ‘Easy star All stars’ specialise in transforming some of the most important albums ever made into dub/reggae. Even bands that have already found a following and fame even created an alter-ego-band the ‘Dangermen’ in order to produce an album covering those that inspired them over the years.

Some people don’t think much of music being covered by other artists, but some think covering songs count as a big part of musical history. After all isn’t imitation the most sincere form of flattery?

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