My favorite thing to do, second only to downloading new music, is to download cover songs. There’s a lot of debate and out there about how a cover song is defined. Dictionary.com says it’s “a recording that was first recorded or made popular by somebody else.” I don’t think the song has to initially have been popular to reach cover status, but I do agree with the first part of the definition. Cover songs are created from originals previously recorded.
I think the artists who create good cover songs take an original tune and twist it to make it their own. Maybe it was sung acoustically, changed genres or the lyrics were sung in a different tone which changed the emotion of the song. The musician takes a song and makes it their own, while keeping an essence of the original.
If a musician is going to cover a song, whether it’s on YouTube or at a show or concert or whatever, the tell-tale sign that it’s a genuine cover is whether the artist is showcasing his or her own talents. If the song is obviously being done in a silly manner, like a parody, it doesn’t count. It also doesn’t count if just a clip of a song is used. Cover songs do not include mash ups or remixes and the lyrics have to be pretty close to the original version. As a side note, there are also many songs out there that have girl and boy versions (such as “Marvin’s Room,” the original by Drake and the reply by JoJo). I do not count these kinds of songs as covers.
There are several bands, groups and individuals known for their cover songs. The married couple that make up Karmin was made famous with their covers of “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj, “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown and “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. Mike Tompkins has several YouTube videos of his a cappella versions of Top 40s hits such as “Paradise” by Coldplay and “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry. Cover band Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine is known for its Disturbed cover, “Down With the Sickness,” which debuted in the 2004 movie, Dawn of the Dead.
I started noticing cover songs with the Punk Goes Crunk and Punk Goes Pop albums. Soon after, I discovered a band called Boyce Avenue. These sources became the basis for my iTunes Covers playlist.
I know there are several great songs out there that have been covered or that are covers and someone’s going to freak out because I didn’t mention them. However, as is, the playlist consists of 321 songs and would take 19 hours, 17 minutes and 51 seconds to listen to all the way through. The majority of these songs come from the 2000s and are Top 40s hits. I’ve complied a list of my favorite covers or at least ones I felt it is my duty to pass on. (The original artist of each song is in parentheses). And feel free to suggest your own covers you’ve come across.
The top 20 cover songs in my library:
- “Creep” – Afghan Whigs (TLC)
- “Whatever You Like” – Anya Marina (T.I.)*
- “Love In This Club” – Boyce Avenue (Usher)
- “Black and Yellow” – Cris Cab (Wiz Khalifa)*
- “Baby” – Drew Ryniewicz (Justin Bieber)*
- “Only Girl (In the World)” – Ellie Goulding (Rihanna)
- “Take Me Home Tonight” – Every Avenue (Eddie Money)*
- “Ride With Me” – I Call Shotgun (Nelly)
- “Gangsta’s Paradise” – In Fear and Faith (Coolio)
- “Pursuit of Happiness” – Lissie (Kid Cudi)
- “I Need Love” – Luka Bloom (LL Cool J)
- “Hold It Against Me” – Miquel (Britney Spears)
- “Fireflies” – Mike Tompkins (Owl City)
- “Lovefool” – The Morning Benders (The Cardigans)
- “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” – Muse (Frankie Valli)*
- “My Body is a Cage” – Peter Gabriel (Arcade Fire)
- “Baby, I Got Your Money” – Say Anything (Ol’ Dirty Bastard)
- “Mrs. Jackson” – TV OFF (Outkast)
- “D.D. (Dirty Diana)” – The Weeknd (Michael Jackson)*
- “The Scientist” – Willie Nelson (Coldplay)
*Recommended or introduced to me by a friend, given credit on Facebook.