In popular music, a cover version or cover song, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording of a previously recorded, commercially released song by someone other than the original artist or composer.
Originally, Billboard and other magazines that track the popularity of musical artists and hit tunes measured the sales success of the published tune, not just recordings of it. Later, they tracked the airplay that songs achieved, some cover versions being more successful recording(s) than the original song(s). Cover versions of well-known, well-liked tunes are often recorded by new or up-and-coming artists to achieve initial success when their unfamiliar original material would be less likely to be successful. Before the onset of rock 'n' roll in the 1950s, songs were published and several records of a song might be brought out by singers of the day, each giving it their individual treatment. Cover versions could also be released as an effort to revive the song's popularity among younger generations of listeners after the popularity of the original version has long since declined over the years.
On occasion, a cover can become more popular and well known than the original, such as Elvis Presley's version of Carl Perkins' original version of "Blue Suede Shoes," Santana's version in 1970 of Peter Green's and Fleetwood Mac's 1968 song "Black Magic Woman," or Jimi Hendrix's version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." The Hendrix version, released six months after Dylan's original, became a Top 10 single in the UK in 1968 (US number 20) and was ranked 48th in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Another famous example is the Beatles' cover of "Twist and Shout", originally by the Isley Brothers, and, to a lesser extent, their cover of the song, "Til There Was You", by , among many others.
The term "cover" goes back decades when cover version originally described a rival version of a tune recorded to compete with the recently released (original) version. The Chicago Tribune described the term in 1952: "trade jargon meaning to record a tune that looks like a potential hit on someone else's label." Examples of records covered include Paul Williams' 1949 hit tune "The Hucklebuck" and Hank Williams' 1952 song "Jambalaya." Both crossed over to the popular Hit Parade and had numerous hit versions. Before the mid-20th century, the notion of an original version of a popular tune would have seemed slightly odd – the production of musical entertainment was seen as a live event, even if it was reproduced at home via a copy of the sheet music, learned by heart or captured on a gramophone record. In fact, one of the principal objects of publishing sheet music was to have a composition performed by as many artists as possible.
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. 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. A cover band plays such "cover versions" exclusively.
Today three broad types of entertainers depend on cover versions for their principal repertoire:
Tribute acts or bands are performers who make a living by recreating the music of one particular artist. Bands such as Björn Again, Led Zepagain, The Fab Four, Australian Pink Floyd Show, The Iron Maidens and Glory Days are dedicated to playing the music of ABBA, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden and Bruce Springsteen respectively. Some tribute acts salute the Who, The Rolling Stones and many other classic rock acts. Most tribute acts target artists who remain popular but no longer perform, allowing an audience to experience the "next best thing" to the original act. The formation of tribute acts is roughly proportional to the enduring popularity of the original act; for example, dozens of Beatles tribute bands have formed and an entire subindustry has formed around Elvis impersonation. Most tribute bands attempt to recreate another band's music as faithfully as possible, but some such bands introduce a twist. Dread Zeppelin performs reggae versions of the Zeppelin catalog and Beatallica creates heavy metal fusions of songs by the Beatles and Metallica.
Cover acts or bands are entertainers who perform a broad variety of crowd-pleasing music for audiences who enjoy the familiarity of hit songs. Such bands draw from Top 40 hits of previous decades to provide pleasurable nostalgic entertainment in bars, on cruise ships and at such events as weddings, family celebrations and corporate functions.
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.
U.S. copyright law
Since the Copyright Act of 1909, United States musicians have had the right to record a version of someone else's previously recorded and released tune, whether its music alone or music with lyrics. A license can be negotiated between representatives of the interpreting artist and the copyright holder, or recording published tunes can fall under a mechanical license whereby the recording artist pays a standard royalty to the original author/copyright holder through an organization such as the Harry Fox Agency, and is safe under copyright law even if they do not have any permission from the original author. A similar service was provided by Limelight by RightsFlow, until January, 2015 when they announced they will be closing their service. The U.S. Congress introduced the mechanical license to head off an attempt by the Aeolian Company to monopolize the piano roll market.
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."
Early 20th century history
Multiple versions in various formats or locations
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.
Because little promotion or advertising was done in the early days of record production, other than at the local music hall or music store, the average buyer purchasing a new record usually asked for the tune, not the artist. Record distribution was highly localized, so a locally popular artist could quickly record a version of a hit song from another area and reach an audience before the version by the artist(s) who first introduced the tune in a particular format—the "original," "introductory" or "popularizing" artist—was widely available, and highly competitive record companies were quick to take advantage of these facts.[clarification needed]
Rival outlets and popularized recordings
This began to change in the late 1930s, when the growing record-buying public began including a younger age group. During the Swing era, when a bobby soxer went looking for a recorded tune, say "In the Mood," typically she wanted the version popularized by her favorite artist(s), e.g. the Glenn Miller version (on RCA Victor's cheaper Bluebird label), not someone else's (sometimes presented on a more expensive record company's label). This trend was marked closely by the charting of record sales by the different artists, not just hit tunes, on the music industry's Hit Parades. However, for sound commercial reasons, record companies still continued to record different versions of tunes that sold well. Most audiences until the mid-1950s still heard their favorite artists playing live music on stage or via the radio. And since radio shows were for the most part aimed at local audiences, it was still rare for an artist in one area to reach a mass audience. Also radio stations tended to cater to broad audience markets, so an artist in one vein might not get broadcast on other stations geared to a set audience. So popular versions of jazz, country and western or rhythm and blues tunes, and vice versa, were frequent. Consider Mack the Knife (Die Moritat vom Mackie Messer): this was originally from Bertholt Brecht's 1928 Die Dreigroschenoper. It was popularized by a 1956 record Hit Parade instrumental tune, Moritat, for the Dick Hyman Trio, also recorded by Richard Hayman & Jan August, but a hit also for Louis Armstrong 1956/1959, Bobby Darin, 1959, and Ella Fitzgerald, 1960, as vocal versions of Mack The Knife.
Europe's Radio Luxembourg, like many commercial stations, also sold "air time"; so record companies and others bought air time to promote their own artists or products, thus increasing the number of recorded versions of any tune then available. Add to this the fact that many radio stations were limited in their permitted "needle time" (the amount of recorded music they were allowed to play), or were regulated on the amount of local talent they had to promote in live broadcasts, as with most national stations like the BBC in the UK.
Incentives to make duplicate recorded versions of a song
In the US, unlike most countries, broadcasters pay royalties to authors and publishers. Artists are not paid royalties, so there is an incentive to record numerous versions of a song, particularly in different genres. For example, King Records frequently cut both rhythm and blues and country and western versions of novelty songs like "Good Morning, Judge" and "Don't Roll those Bloodshot Eyes at Me." This tradition was expanded when rhythm and blues songs began appearing on pop music charts.
In the early days of rock and roll, many tunes originally recorded by R&B and country musicians were still being re-recorded in a more popular vein by other artists with a more toned-down style or professional polish. This was inevitable because radio stations were reluctant to play formats outside their target audience's taste. By far the most popular style of music in the mid-1950s / mid-1960s was still the professional light orchestra, therefore popular recording artists sought that format. For many purists these popular versions lacked the raw, often amateurish, earthiness of the original introducing artists.
But most did not have the kudos that rebellious teenagers craved, the social stigma - or street credibility - of rock and roll music; most were performed, and some were written, by black artists not heard in popular mass entertainment markets. Most parents considered the bowdlerized popular cover versions more palatable for the mass audience of parents and their children. Artists targeting the white-majority family audience were more acceptable to programmers at most radio and TV stations. Singer-songwriter Don McLean called the cover version a "racist tool". Many parents in the 1950s - 60s, whether intentionally racist or not, felt deeply threatened by the rapid pace of social change. They had, for the most part, shared entertainment with their parents in ways their children had become reluctant to do. The jukebox and the personal record disc player were still relatively expensive pieces of machinery - and the portable radio a great novelty, allowing truculent teenagers to shut themselves off.
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.
Reworking non-English language tunes and lyrics for the Anglo-Saxon markets was once a popular part of the music business. For example, the 1954 worldwide hit The Happy Wanderer was originally Der fröhliche Wanderer, to this must be added Hymne a l'amour, Mutterlein, Volare, Seeman, "Quando, Quando, Quando," L'amour est bleu, etc.
Modern cover versions
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 mix. Some producers or recording artists may also enlist the services of a sample replay company such as or , 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 Zulu a cappella song. Many of singer Laura Branigan's 1980s hits were English-language remakes 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.
Updating older songs
Cover versions (as the term is now used) are often contemporary versions of familiar songs. For example, "Singin' in the Rain" was originally introduced 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 brief 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.
Director Baz Luhrmann has contemporized and stylized older songs for use in his films. New or cover versions such as John Paul Young's "Love Is in the Air" occur in Strictly Ballroom, Candi Staton's "Young Hearts Run Free" appear in Romeo + Juliet, and adaptations of artists such as Nat King Cole, Nirvana, Kiss, Elton John, Thelma Houston, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, T. Rex, David Bowie, Queen and The Police are used in Moulin Rouge! The covers are carefully designed to fit into the structure of each film and suit the taste of the intended audience.
Other artists release new versions of their own previous songs, like German singer Nena who recorded an entire album with great success, with new versions of older hits. Cover songs can be used to display creativity of a performers work through the talent of another artist's previous production. Not to be confused with a Remix, which is defined as altering or distorting the original sound electronically; Cover Versions give a performer the ability to adapt music to their own style, typically allowing them to change the genre of a song and recreating it to their own taste. For example, in 2008, Fall Out Boy covered Micheal Jackson's hit song "Beat It", changing the genre from Pop Rock to a more Punk Rock feel. This is more common with today's covers, taking older popular music and revamping it to compare with modern popular music. Aretha Franklin's cover of Otis Redding's Respect was voted the greatest cover song of all-time, according to Forbes.com.
Introduction of new artists
New artists are often introduced to the record buying public with performances of well known, "safe" songs as evidenced in American Idol and its counterparts in other countries. It is also a means by which the public can more easily concentrate upon the new performer without the need to judge the quality of the songwriting skills.
However, some new artists have chosen to radically rework a popular song to exemplify their approach and philosophy to music. Prime examples include Joe Cocker's soul reworking of The Beatles' originally-jaunty "With a Little Help from My Friends," the band Devo's radical reconstruction of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," or Marilyn Manson's version of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams." Many musicians have other goals, such as to create publicity as in Sid Vicious' notorious version of "My Way."
Tributes, tribute albums and cover albums
Established artists often pay homage to artists or songs that inspired them before they started their careers or musicians who in some way helped them enter show business by recording their own versions of tunes associated with that artist (See, for example, I Remember Tommy) or performing tunes associated with their favorite influential musician(s) in their own live performances for variety. For example, U2 has performed ABBA's "Dancing Queen" live, and Kylie Minogue has performed The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" - songs that would be completely out of character for them to record, but which allow them artistic freedom when performing live. These performances are often released as part of authorized "live recordings."
Since the late twentieth century, unrelated contemporary artists have contributed individual reworkings of tunes to tribute albums for well-established artists who are considered to be influential and inspiring. This trend was spawned by Hal Willner's Amarcord Nino Rota in 1981. Typically, each project has resulted in a collection of the particular artist's best recognized or most highly regarded songs reworked by more current performers.
The soundtracks to the films All This and World War II, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, I Am Sam and Across the Universe are examples of this: they consisted of Beatles songs redone by various contemporary artists. Other notable examples are Conception: The Interpretation of Stevie Wonder Songs; Common Thread an album of contemporary country artists performing hit singles by the Eagles; the album where a country artist duets with a rhythm and blues artist on a standard of either genre. Two notable tribute albums to the Grateful Dead are Wake the Dead, with Celtic-style covers, and , by The Persuasions.
In some cases this proves to be popular enough to spawn a series of cover albums being released for a band, either under a consistent branding such as the two Black Sabbath Nativity in Black cover albums and the industrial themed "Blackest Album" cover albums of Metallica songs, or in the form of releases from a number of different companies cashing in on the trend such as the many Metallica cover albums released in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Metallica itself is known for doing covers; later releases of their original album, Kill 'Em All, included a couple of covers (Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?" and Blitzkrieg's "Blitzkrieg"), the original The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited was a collection of covers paying homage to a number of mostly obscure bands, which were later combined with additional new covers on the double album Garage Inc., which among other things included covers of Black Sabbath ("Sabbra Cadabra"), Bob Seger ("Turn the Page"), Blue Öyster Cult ("Astronomy"), Mercyful Fate (a medley of different songs of the band), and numerous Motörhead tracks. In an interesting turn around there were even a couple of releases of The Metallic-era CDs collecting tracks from bands that Metallica had covered, both the original versions of the covered songs, and some additional songs by the same artist.
A different type of all-covers album occurs when one artist creates a release of covers of songs originally by many other artists, as a way to recognize their influences or simply as a change of pace or direction. An early example of this was David Bowie's album Pin Ups, featuring songs from groups with which he had shared venues in the 1960s. Since these bands included The Who and The Kinks many of the tracks would have been at least familiar to his audience.
Other more recent examples of this type of album include Renegades by Rage Against the Machine featuring covers of songs originally performed by diverse artists including Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Afrikaa Bambaataa, and Erik B and Rakim, as well as the EP Feedback by Canadian rock band Rush. Tori Amos' album Strange Little Girls features covers of songs originally performed by male artists sung from the perspective of thirteen female characters she created (including a rather unexpected version of Slayer's "Raining Blood"). Manfred Mann did albums with more covers than original songs, following the mould of Vanilla Fudge.
More rarely, bands will do an entire album of cover songs originally by a particular artist, such as The The's Hanky Panky, which consists entirely of Hank Williams songs, or Booker T. & the M.G.'s' album McLemore Avenue which was a cover of The Beatles' Abbey Road, or 's tribute to Manchester legends Joy Division.
There are also bands who create entire albums out of covers, but unlike Tin Pan Alley-style traditional pop singers, they often perform the songs in a genre completely unlike the original songs. Examples include The Moog Cookbook (alternative and classic rock songs done on Moog synthesizers), Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine (top 40, including punk, heavy metal, teen pop and indie rock performed in a Vegas lounge lizard style), and Hayseed Dixie (a play on the name AC/DC, they started covering AC/DC songs and progressed to other classic rock, playing them as bluegrass songs, similar to The Gourds' version of "Gin and Juice.")
Also notable are Dread Zeppelin, who take Led Zeppelin songs and cover them in a reggae fashion with the added twist of an Elvis Presley impersonation on the lead vocal; , who take Elvis Presley songs and rework them in an industrial fashion similar to Nine Inch Nails; and Beatallica, who "mix up" songs from The Beatles and Metallica into Metallica-sounding songs with humorous lyrics referring to both bands' works.
In that same category, The Blues Brothers have recorded only covers on their three most famous albums, Briefcase Full of Blues, Made in America and the motion picture soundtrack The Blues Brothers. They covered blues, R&B, soul, country and rock'n'roll songs, but with their own particular, fresh and raw style of interpretation, a successful blend of the Memphis Stax sound provided by MGs band members Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn, and the New York City sound from the horn section (Alan Rubin and Lou Marini, for example). The outcome sometimes gave a new life to songs. Some became even more popular after The Blues Brothers had played them, than before.
The best example is "Soul Man," more remembered as a hit by The Blues Brothers rather than by the original singers, Sam & Dave. The same can be said of "She Caught the Katy" (originally written by Taj Mahal and Yank Rachell) and "Jailhouse Rock" (sung by Elvis Presley) or "Sweet Home Chicago" (Robert Johnson), acknowledging the fact that covers can become even more famous than original performances.
Recent years have seen well-established artists (especially those mostly active in the 1980s) release cover albums, such as Poison (Poison'd!), Tesla (Real to Reel), Queensrÿche (Take Cover) and Def Leppard (Yeah!), revealing a wide range of musical influences.
Some cover albums take the unusual tack of doing classical versions of rock and metal songs. The unusual band Apocalyptica which comprises four classical cellists started out performing classical arrangements of Metallica songs. In a similar vein, there have also been many string quartet tributes to popular rock and metal bands, most notably Tool, Black Sabbath, Breaking Benjamin, New Order/Joy Division, The Cure, Muse, The Beatles, and even Slayer.
One more type of cover album is when a cover of the entire album is done, rather than a collection of songs. A notable band to earn acclaim this way are the Easy Star All-Stars, who covered The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd in their album Dub Side of the Moon and OK Computer by Radiohead in their album Radiodread. Both albums were radical departures from the original albums, being redone in reggae/dub. Another album which radically remade an original album in a new genre is the 2001 Rebuild the Wall, in which Luther Wright and the Wrongs covered the entire double-album The Wall by Pink Floyd as a country/bluegrass piece.
Former Genesis session drummer Nick D'Virgilio covered the band's 1974 concept double album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway as 'A Tribute to the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway' in 2008. This was released under the name 'Rewiring Genesis'. Unlike the progressive rock original, notable for its prominent synthesizer and guitar work, the cover used a wide variety of instrumentation, including an orchestra, in place of most synthesizer parts and featured jazz-influenced song arrangements. D'Virgilio was session drummer on the Calling All Stations album released in 1996, a year after drummer Phil Collins left Genesis.
Camper Van Beethoven covered Fleetwood Mac's Tusk album in its entirety. Beck's Record Club project has covered The Velvet Underground and Nico, Songs of Leonard Cohen, Oar, Kick, and Yannii Live at the Acropolis by The Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen, Skip Spence, INXS, and Yanni, respectively.
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Many up and coming bands in the metal genre cover songs by their predecessors to gain public interest, although more established bands have also recorded covers. Ozzy Osbourne, HammerFall, Metallica, Napalm Death, Entombed, Iced Earth, Between the Buried and Me, Overkill, Slayer, L.A. Guns, Marilyn Manson, Fozzy, and Def Leppard have released entire albums of covers, for example. In specific subgenres of metal, covers generally reflect the genre the band is in. The Norwegian black metal band Mayhem have recorded several Venom covers, while Mayhem themselves have been covered many times: their song "Deathcrush" has been covered around 140 times, according to Encyclopaedia Metallum.
Another approach, taken by several metal bands, including Children of Bodom, is to cover songs generally not listened to by metal fans, such as pop, punk, or classic rock songs. Children of Bodom's cover of Britney Spears' "Oops! I Did It Again" was originally recorded as an in-joke amongst the band members but ended up being released as a bonus track on one of their EPs, as well as Andrew W.K.'s "She Is Beautiful." Ten Masked Men are a cover-only band that primarily do death metal versions of pop songs (famous covers include Michael Jackson's 'Beat It' and 'Thriller', Justin Timberlake's 'Cry Me A River' and Dead Or Alive's 'You Spin Me Right Round'). Blind Guardian has covered surf-rock hit "Surfin' U.S.A." from the Beach Boys, as well as 50s hit "Mr. Sandman" and oldies rock and roll staples "Barbara Ann" and "Long Tall Sally." Yngwie J. Malmsteen covered ABBA's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!". The song features the same lyrics, with minor edits, and the same music with a more powerful metal feel. Thrash metal band Megadeth covered Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin' on their 1985 debut album Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, but is more often recognized as a parody rather than a true cover, and is considered controversial because song writer Lee Hazlewood deemed Megadeth's version to be "a perversion of the original." Also, nu metal band Korn have covered Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" for the xXx: State of the Union soundtrack; and Cameo's "Word Up!" and Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" for their Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 compilation album. Celtic Frost also did a cover of the song "In the Chapel in the Moonlight", an easy listening song originally written by Billy Hill and performed by Shep Fields in 1936, on their 1986 album Into the Pandemonium. The progressive metal band Tool recorded a cover of Led Zeppelin's song "No Quarter", which was released on their album Salival.
In recent years, artists have begun covering hip-hop songs, most frequently in concert and typically in a style radically different from the originals. Snoop Dogg, XV, Busy Signal, and Kanye West Rock City have all recorded covers of hip-hop songs and Can You Blow My had a top 40 single in the UK with a cover of rapper Flo Rida's song 'Whistle'.
The band Mindless Self Indulgence recorded a cover of the song "Bring the Pain" by Method Man in which they completely change the entire rhythm and sound of the song. The only part of the original song retained in their cover is the lyrics.
In R&B, remakes are common, often seen as tributes to the original artist. R&B artists such as Mary J. Blige have recorded several covers of legendary R&B artists like Aretha Franklin "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," Chaka Khan (Sweet Thing), and Rose Royce "I'm Going Down." In 1995 D'Angelo remade "Cruisin'" originally recorded by Smokey Robinson. K-Ci Hailey of Jodeci recorded a remake of "If You Think You're Lonely Now" by Bobby Womack. Lionel Richie and various contemporary artists recorded and released a remake of "We Are The World" for Haiti in February 2010. In 1994 Aaliyah recorded a cover of The Isley Brothers classic "At Your Best" on her debut album Age Ain't Nothing But a Number. In 2001, Christina Aguilera, Mýa, Pink and Lil' Kim recorded a remake of "Lady Marmalade", originally recorded by Labelle, for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack.
A type of cover version that existed from the early 1950s to the late 1970s in Louisiana was known as swamp pop. Contemporary and classic rock, R&B, and country songs were re-recorded with Cajun audiences in mind. Some lyrics were translated to French, and some were recorded with traditional Cajun instrumentation. Several swamp pop songs charted nationally, but it was mostly a regional niche market.
The Taliesin Orchestra specializes in remaking famous songs into orchestra-style melodies. Their debut album, Orinoco Flow: The Music of Enya, was a collection of songs originally created and sung by Enya.
Independent artists sometimes create covers for songs done by other independent artists. Petra Haden has done several song covers, most notably, the song "Yellow" by Coldplay. Youth Group recorded a cover of the Alphaville song "Forever Young." Singer-songwriter Chan Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power) is known for covering other musicians' songs in her own, unique style. Canadian indie artist Feist covered "Inside and Out" (originally by the Bee Gees) for her album Let It Die. Archangel have recently done a cover version of "Do It Again" by Steely Dan, and have released it as a single. Another indie singer known for her covers is Birdy.
Hundreds of songs have been covered by punk/pop punk bands, including the bands Rancid, Sex Pistols and Burning Heads. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes is a punk band that only does cover songs. BYO Records has also BYO Split Series with bands such as NOFX, Anti-Flag, Rancid, Alkaline Trio, and The Bouncing Souls in which two bands on each disc cover each other's songs.
Since 2000, Fearless Records has released a series of CDs in which various rock bands perform covers of songs from other genres or time-periods. The deviations from this theme are Punk Goes Acoustic and Punk Goes Acoustic 2 (in which the featured bands recorded acoustic versions of their own songs); Punk Goes Pop 1, 2, 3 4 and 5; and Punk Goes Classic Rock.
Pet Shop Boys is one of the best examples of covering other artists' song to becoming their own hits. These include "Always on My Mind," "Where the Streets Have No Name," "Somewhere" and "Go West." In 2004, Jessica Simpson recorded a cover of the Berlin classic "Take My Breath Away" on her third album In This Skin: Collector's Edition.
- Appropriation (music)
- Compilation album
- Compulsory license
- Dance cover
- Ed Starink
- Joe Cocker
- Parody music
- Tribute act
- List of artists who have covered the Beatles
- List of Grateful Dead covers
- Traditional pop music
- Jazz standard
- List of blues standards
- COVERIUM - Cover Songs social network and catalog
- Celebrities are not only talented
- The Covers Project
- , Crawdaddy! (March 12, 2008)
- Lifting the cover, a March 24, 2009 article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Northwest Edition. Accessed 2009-04-14
- Using cover song versions legally, US Music Copyright Laws from cleverjoe.com
- coverinfo.de - database with cover versions and musical quotations
- Metamuse - Remix and cover song database
- The Guilty Pleasure of the Cover Version