NoCleanSinging Discusses Pros And Cons Of Cover Songs
Band Photo: Iron Maiden (?)
NoCleanSinging.com has posted an editorial online on the pros and cons of covers, after hearing the Anachronaeon cover of Iron Maiden's "Wasting Love." An excerpt from the editorial can be viewed below.
Song covers that just faithfully reproduce an original song don’t add anything. Why would anyone listen to a reproduction when you can listen to the original? That point seems inarguable. So, if a cover needs to be different from the original to be worth hearing, what makes a cover succeed and what makes it fail?
I think the answer depends to some extent on the popularity of the original song and how you, as a listener, feel about it. If it’s a great song, a well-remembered song, the kind of song that welcomingly unfolds in your head as soon as you hear the first few notes, then a band that alters that song in a cover is playing with fire. I think for a cover of that kind of song to work, the cover band almost has to change it dramatically. Making minor alterations around the edges can be jarring — you mind is playing one thing in your head from memory, and here and there the cover recording is doing something else that you’re unlikely to hear as an improvement on the original.
On the other hand, changing a beloved original song in dramatic ways can be equally off-putting — or it can be a wonderful surprise. It all depends on whether the cover song can stand on its own as something interestingly different, on whether the cover band has found something in the original that it can run with, maintaining a connection to the original but spinning out a variation that can stand on its own two legs as a good piece of music. There’s no formula for how to do this.
Two covers I’ve heard recently (and written about) jump to mind as examples of what works. One is Amon Amarth‘s cover of System of A Down‘s “Aerials”, which appeared as a bonus track on Surtur Rising. Another is Torture Division‘s cover of a Mastodon song called “Iron Tusk." Both songs imprint the cover band’s own particular style on the original, creating something different and good, without completely losing connection with the originals.
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