In popular music, a cover version, cover song, remake, revival, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording by a musician other than the original performer or composer of the song. Originally, it referred to a version of a song released around the same time as the original in order to compete with it. Now, it refers to any subsequent version performed after the original.
In previous generations, some artists made very successful careers of presenting revivals or reworkings of once-popular tunes, even out of doing contemporary cover versions of current hits. Since the 1950s, musicians now play what they call "cover versions" (the reworking, updating, or interpretation) of songs as a tribute to the original performer or group. Using familiar material (such as evergreen hits, standard tunes or classic recordings) is an important method of learning music styles. Until the mid-1960s most albums, or long playing records, contained a large number of evergreens or standards to present a fuller range of the artist's abilities and style. (See, for example, Please Please Me.) Artists might also perform interpretations ("covers") of a favorite artist's hit tunes for the simple pleasure of playing a familiar song or collection of tunes.
Cover acts or bands are entertainers who perform a broad variety of crowd-pleasing cover songs for audiences who enjoy the familiarity of hit songs. Such bands draw from either current Top 40 hits or those of previous decades to provide nostalgic entertainment in bars, on cruise ships and at such events as weddings, family celebrations and corporate functions. Since the advent of inexpensive computers, some cover bands use a computerized catalog of songs, so that the singer can have the lyrics to a song displayed on a computer screen. The use of a screen for lyrics as a memory aid can dramatically increase the number of songs a singer can perform.
Revivalist artists or bands are performers who are inspired by an entire genre of music and dedicate themselves to curating and recreating the genre and introducing it to younger audiences who have not experienced that music first hand. Unlike tribute bands and cover bands who rely primarily on audiences seeking a nostalgic experience, revivalist bands usually seek new young audiences for whom the music is fresh and has no nostalgic value. For example, Sha Na Na started in 1969 as a celebration of the doo-wop music of the 1950s, a genre of music that was not initially fashionable during the hippie counter-culture era. The Blues Brothers started in 1978 as a living salute to the blues, soul and R&B music of the 1950s and 1960s that was not in vogue by the late 1970s. The Blues Brothers' creed was that they were "on a mission from God" as evangelists for blues and soul music. The Black Crowes formed in 1984, initially dedicated to reviving 1970s style blues-rock. They started writing their own material in the same vein.
Although a composer cannot deny anyone a mechanical license for a new recorded version, the composer has the right to decide who will release the first recording of a song. Bob Dylan took advantage of this right when he refused his own record company the right to release a live recording of "Mr. Tambourine Man". Even with this, pre-release cover versions of songs can occasionally occur.
Early in the 20th century it became common for phonograph record labels record companies to have singers or musicians "cover" a commercially successful "hit" tune by recording a version for their own label in hopes of cashing in on the tune's success. For example, Ain't She Sweet was popularized in 1927 by Eddie Cantor (on stage) and by Ben Bernie and Gene Austin (on record), was repopularized through popular recordings by Mr. Goon Bones & Mr. Ford and Pearl Bailey in 1949, and later still revived as 33 1/3 and 45 RPM records by the Beatles in 1964.
Tunes by introducing or "original" niche market artists that became successful on the mass audience Hit Parade charts are called crossovers as they "crossed over" from the targeted country, jazz or rhythm audience. Also, many songs originally recorded by male artists were rerecorded by female artists, and vice versa. Such a cover version is also sometimes called a cross cover version, male cover, or female cover. Incidentally, until the mid-1930s male vocalists often sang the female lyrics to popular songs, though this faded rapidly after it was deemed decadent in Nazi Germany. Some songs such as "If Only for One Night" were originally recorded by female artists but covered by mostly male artists.
Cover versions of many popular songs have been recorded, sometimes with a radically different style, sometimes virtually indistinguishable from the original. For example, Sir Mix-a-Lot's 1992 rap "Baby Got Back" was covered by indie rock singer Jonathan Coulton in 2005, in an acoustic soft rock style. Coulton's cover was then covered, without attribution, in 2013 by the show Glee, and was so similar that Coulton, among others, alleged plagiarism of his arrangement and melody. Some producers or recording artists may also enlist the services of a sample replay company such as Titan Tribute Media or Scorccio, in order to replicate an original recording with precision detail and accuracy.
A song may be covered into another language. For example, in the 1930s, a recording of Isle of Capri in Spanish, by Osvaldo Fresedo and singer Roberto Ray, is known. Falco's 1982 German-language hit "Der Kommissar" was covered in English by After the Fire, although the German title was retained. The English version, which was not a direct translation of Falco's original but retained much of its spirit, reached the Top 5 on the US charts. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" evolved over several decades and versions from a 1939 Solomon Linda a cappella song. Many of singer Laura Branigan's 1980s hits were English-language covers of songs already successful in Europe, for the American record market. Numerable English-language covers exist of "99 Luftballons" by German singer Nena (notably one by punk band Goldfinger), one having been recorded by Nena herself following the success of her original German version. "Popcorn", a song that was originally completely instrumental, has had lyrics added in at least six different languages in various covers. During the heyday of Cantopop in Hong Kong in the late 1970s to early 1990s, many hits were covers of English and Japanese titles that have gained international fame but with localized lyrics (sometimes multiple sets of lyrics sung to the same tune), and critics often chide the music industry of shorting the tune-composing process.
Although modern cover versions are often produced for artistic reasons, some aspects of the disingenuous spirit of early cover versions remain. In the album-buying heyday of the 1970s, albums of sound-alike covers were created, commonly released to fill bargain bins in the music section of supermarkets and even specialized music stores, where uninformed customers might easily confuse them with original recordings. The packaging of such discs was often intentionally confusing, combining the name of the original artist in large letters with a tiny disclaimer like as originally sung by or as made popular by. More recently, albums such as the Kidz Bop series of compact discs, featuring versions of contemporary songs sung by children, have sold successfully.
In 2009, the American musical comedy-drama television series Glee debuted, featuring several musical performances per episode. The series featured solely cover songs performed by the series' titular glee club until near the end of its second season with the episode "Original Song". The series still primarily uses cover songs of both chart hits and show tunes, occasionally as mashups or distinct variations. The show's musical performances have been a commercial success, with over twenty-one million copies of Glee cast single releases purchased digitally, and over nine million albums purchased worldwide.
Australian alternative/indie radio station Triple J presents a weekly segment called Like a Version in which a band or musician performs one of their own songs as well as a song they love by another artist. Originating in 2004, the popularity of the performances have resulted in the release of annual compilation albums of selected covers and, more recently, votes in the annual Triple J Hottest 100 poll (which has even sparked its own controversy).
On occasion, a cover can become more popular than the original, for instance Jimi Hendrix's version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" became the standard, and Dylan even adjusted his performance style closer to the Hendrix version. Johnny Cash's 2002 cover of "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails is another example of the cover version eclipsing the original. Besides these, Elvis Presley's version of Carl Perkins' original "Blue Suede Shoes", Santana's 1970 version of Peter Green's and Fleetwood Mac's 1968 "Black Magic Woman", Jeff Buckley's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", Michael Jackson's version of Yellow Magic Orchestra's "Behind the Mask", Whitney Houston's versions of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and of George Benson's "The Greatest Love of All", Nirvana's version of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World", Gary Jules's version of Tears for Fears's "Mad World", Glenn Medeiros's version of George Benson's "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You", Lenny Kravitz's version of The Guess Who's "American Woman", Soft Cell's version of Gloria Jones's "Tainted Love", They Might Be Giants' version of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" by The Four Lads, and Sinéad O'Connor's version of "Nothing Compares to You" by Prince, are songs where the cover was more successful than the original.
Cover versions (as the term is now used) are often contemporary versions of familiar songs. For example, "Singin' in the Rain" was originally introduced by Cliff Edwards in the film The Hollywood Revue of 1929. The famous Gene Kelly version was a revision that brought it up to date for a 1950s Hollywood musical, and was used in the 1952 film Singin' in the Rain. In 1978, it was covered by French singer Sheila, accompanied by the B. Devotion group, as a disco song, once more updating it to suit the musical taste of the era. During the disco era there was a trend of taking well known songs and recording them in the disco style. More recently "Singin' in the Rain" has been covered and remixed by British act Mint Royale for a television commercial for Volkswagen. Another example of this, from a different angle, is the tune "Blueberry Hill", many mistakenly believe the Fats Domino 1956 release to be the original recording and artist. In fact, it was originally introduced on film by Gene Autry and popularized on the record Hit Parade of 1940 by Glenn Miller. The Fats Domino rock and roll version is the only one that might currently get widespread airplay on most media. Similarly, "Unchained Melody" was originally performed by Todd Duncan, featured in the 1955 film Unchained (based on the non-fiction story Prisoners are People by Kenyon J. Scudder); Al Hibbler having the biggest number of worldwide record sales for the vocal version with Jimmy Young's cover version rival outdoing this in the UK, Les Baxter's Orchestra gaining the big instrumentalist sales, reaching the US Hit Parade number one spot in May 1955, but the Righteous Brothers' later version (top five on the US Hit Parade of September 1965 stalling at number 14 in the UK in August) is by far the wider known version, and especially so following its appearance in the 1990 film Ghost. "House of the Rising Sun" has hundreds of versions and in many genres such as folk, blues rock and punk as well as dance and dubstep. 041b061a72