In which I mock people who dislike a certain type of music. - Blogs - Bulbagarden Forums
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Because sometimes I need to rant.

In which I mock people who dislike a certain type of music.

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Yes, this is the first in a series of "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING SILLY PEOPLE"

Well not, really. But it's close.

The topic at hand today: people who dislike covers.

There seems to be this sort of hipster trend (or always has been, but not necessarily hipsters) of being pretentious and disliking covers of a song. And I never understood this.

I love it when people cover songs -- it brings out something new in the music. Whether it's a reorchestration of the song like this eerie cover of Nirvana's Heart-Shaped Box, or a mash-up of two different songs together, like this one between The Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of These) and The White Stripes' Seven Nation Army. These cover songs add a new dimension to the music that was previously not there.

This is not to say that covers are automatically better (see William Shatner's cover of the Beatles' Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds for an example of bleeding eardrums), but to say that a song is automatically bad just because it's a cover is a bit short-sighted and a bit pretentious.

Part of this has to do with the fact that people have a bias towards liking things that they hear initially (I still prefer Credence Clearwater Revival's version of Proud Mary to Tina Turner's). So when a cover emerges that you like, you take a negative opinion on it because "it's not like the version that I love." But this fails to explain why people have such animosity towards cover versions of songs.

I think it's more due to the fact that our society seems to emphasize originality and intellectual property as some of the tenets of popular media. And both of these have their place. But popular media is an evolving entity, every part is building off of the previous part. Rock n' Roll, if you go back far enough, is based on equal parts African songs and classical music (see Bettye LaVette's cover of Ringo Starr's It Don't Come Easy showing how rock 'n' roll is based on blues, which itself is a combination of white gospel music and slave songs). And with each innovation, it's important to look back and see where it came from -- and this sometimes requires a reinterpretation of the music of the past.

So I leave you with my favorite cover -- Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis's cover of Smokey Robinson's Cruisin'.

Have a good one everybody.

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  1. GatoRage's Avatar
    Well said.
    For example: Roxy Music's cover of Jealous guy is and always will be better than John Lennon's original version IMO.

    I still prefer Credence Clearwater Revival's version of Proud Mary to Tina Turner's.
    You like CCR? I approve.
    And CCR's cover of Heard it through the Grapevine is also better than Marvin Gaye's version.
  2. Arc Blader's Avatar
    A very well done blog indeed. Would "Hurt" have nearly as much meaning had Johnny Cash never covered it? Given how many people seem to think it's his song to begin with, I'd say no.
  3. Ino-Chan's Avatar
    I don't care what anyone says, I still prefer A Skylit Drive's cover of Separate Ways to Journey's amazing song.
  4. CrackFox's Avatar
    I like covers in general. I agree they can sometimes turn out better than the originals, too.

    The annoyance factor comes for me, when clearly talentless artists cover other people's songs simply because they haven't got the skill to write their own stuff.

    I also think, that no matter how good the cover is, you still shouldn't give a cover much praise, because no matter how well they do it, it is just like copying someone else's test paper in your own handwriting.

    If you're established with your own material and you happen to have some covers on your albums, then great. It's fun. If you build your career around ripping off other people's material, then screw you.
  5. hurristat's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Arc Blader
    A very well done blog indeed. Would "Hurt' have nearly as much meaning had Johnny Cash never covered it? Given how many people seem to think it's his song to begin with, I'd say no.
    How could I forget that cover? D'oh.

    But yes, that one is excellent.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrackFox
    The annoyance factor comes for me, when clearly talentless artists cover other people's songs simply because they haven't got the skill to write their own stuff.
    If they're clearly talentless, all of their songs should suck and the cover would be no exception. But continue.

    I also think, that no matter how good the cover is, you still shouldn't give a cover much praise, because no matter how well they do it, it is just like copying someone else's test paper in your own handwriting.
    Classroom logic doesn't apply to the real world -- the world moves forward in collaboration, not isolation. But considering that music builds upon itself -- artists take inspiration and style from other artists, doesn't that make all artists plagiarists, underneath your logic? As long as you give attribution to the original songwriter (which, for the cover to be released, it has to), and if it's different enough, I don't see what makes a cover automatically unworthy of praise.
  6. Mako's Avatar
    I like covers that improve upon the original song, but not those that ape the original so closely that they're virtually indistinguishable.

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