Keane asked in Entertainment & MusicMusic · 1 decade ago

What makes a truly great cover version and why?

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    There has to be a combination of a great choice of song (NOT necessarily a great song), a great artist and the song should be covered in a way that makes the new version a good recording in its own right. It's pointless covering a song if you're bringing nothing new to the table.

    A great cover version is very rarely better than the original, and neither should they often be considered to be, but it may compare and enjoyment of the original should not be hindered by the existance of a cover.

    Deciding how to cover a song and making a good job of it should follow similar principles to writing and recording an original song. The effort levels often compare and often need to for the cover to be a success.

    To sum up, for a cover to be great the artist must be great, the choice of song must be great and the cover should be created and not carried out. A carbon copy will never a great cover make.

    Greatest cover ever? Well it's a pointless argument because everyone knows that if Nirvana had actually CREATED a fully-mixed and mastered studio-recorded version of My Sharona nothing else would've come close.

  • 6 years ago

    To have that balance it means that the new result is neither exactly the same as its predecessor nor completely different. The covered song, much like a new baby, hopefully has the best traits drawn from both parents. I think the worst mistake a lot of bands make in covering a song is thinking that in order for it to be new and unique it needs to be radically different from its original creation. If a song is worth covering, there has to be some element of the original that speaks to the band covering it, and that should still be present in the re-creation. On the flip side of that, if it sounds too much like the original, then the "voice" the new band is using isn't truly their own. True to the original yet true to the cover; doing what's been done and yet doing it for the first time. A good cover version is all about balance.Who knows? If there was a formula then we'd all be great wouldn't we? Artists who don't write their own stuff seem to have greater credibility singing cover versions. Whenever I hear a band do a cover version I always think it's because they've dried up. If you're Elvis, you can make a career of it...if you're Gareth Gates, then your days are numbered. You've got to love the song and do something a bit special with it. Just do it for the right reasons and it'll be at the very least credible.

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    There's no reason why you can't make it better though...people have! It depends a lot on the song as well. Maybe the more cover versions a song has, then the easier it is because no one really identifies with the original. Unless there's a specific reason to do it, I think people should just write great new songs or if they can't, then look for people who can. I'm sure they're out there. As for what makes a great cover version...dunno! I suppose the same thing that makes anything great... Who knows? If there was a formula then we'd all be great wouldn't we? Artists who don't write their own stuff seem to have greater credibility singing cover versions. Whenever I hear a band do a cover version I always think it's because they've dried up. If you're Elvis, you can make a career of it...if you're Gareth Gates, then your days are numbered. You've got to love the song and do something a bit special with it. Just do it for the right reasons and it'll be at the very least credible.

  • 6 years ago

    people have! It depends a lot on the song as well. Maybe the more cover versions a song has, then the easier it is because no one really identifies with the original. Unless there's a specific reason to do it, I think people should just write great new songs or if they can't, then look for people who can. I'm sure they're out there. As for what makes a great cover version...dunno! I suppose the same thing that makes anything great... Who knows? If there was a formula then we'd all be great wouldn't we? Artists who don't write their own stuff seem to have greater credibility singing cover versions. Whenever I hear a band do a cover version I always think it's because they've dried up. If you're Elvis, you can make a career of it...if you're Gareth Gates, then your days are numbered. You've got to love the song and do something a bit special with it. Just do it for the right reasons and it'll be at the very least credible.

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  • 1 decade ago

    There are lots of important things that go into a great cover version - the first is a good song to cover, there have been far too many versions of "Boys of Summer", for example. The song being covered has to have a meaning for the band or artist covering it, otherwise it will just sound like someone trying to steal someone else's success. The really good covers are the ones that people didn't know were covers, such as Annie Lennox's "No More I Love Yous" or Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" (originally a Prince song), because the artist singing in it can show a personal connection to the music, and that will always be easy to hear. An example of a really, really bad cover might be Madonna's "American Pie". She's not Don McLean, and the America Don McLean was singing about has nothing to do with anything Madonna is, was, or could ever stand for. That's what made it awful (oh, and the electronic organ thing in the background). The other really important element in a good cover is managing to combine a healthy respect for the original while including the new artist's influences. Oasis have a B-Side version of "My Generation" by The Who which is played with almost too much respect for the original - it sounds the same and we've already had that - Nickelback's version of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" however, is excellent, because there is a good mix of both acts. The other extreme might be The Pet Shop Boys version of "Can't Help Falling In Love With You", which jarred badly because there wasn't any respect for the original and the styles just didn't work. It felt like profiteering.

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    I think that might be what it takes to make a great cover version of a song to. Style. Each band has an certain style, a certain something that sets them apart from the others. That style is reflected in the music that they play. A cover song was written by a completely different band with a different style and now the band covering the song is making it their own. Molding it to make it bend where they want and creating something new from the already established. A cover song stays true to the original yet when you hear it, it sounds like the band playing the song wrote it. It's when your at a concert and say to your buddy "I've heard this song before, I didn't know they wrote it". When in actuality the band covering the song made it their own and stayed true to the original. A cover song can make a great song even greater.A song I really had a connection with as a teenager during the 1980s was Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill, and a couple of months ago I discovered the cover version done by Placebo. I love both versions, Kate Bush's own was and remains a classic, but the Placebo version has an edginess about it that I really really like. I think this is what makes it a great cover of a song which for me has a strong emotional resonance - it taps into that emotional well, and reinterprets it, without losing the essence of it, yet the band Placebo managed to put their own stamp on it. True artists reacting to true art.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    The song being covered has to have a meaning for the band or artist covering it, otherwise it will just sound like someone trying to steal someone else's success. The really good covers are the ones that people didn't know were covers, such as Annie Lennox's "No More I Love Yous" or Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" (originally a Prince song), because the artist singing in it can show a personal connection to the music, and that will always be easy to hear. An example of a really, really bad cover might be Madonna's "American Pie". She's not Don McLean, and the America Don McLean was singing about has nothing to do with anything Madonna is, was, or could ever stand for. That's what made it awful (oh, and the electronic organ thing in the background). The other really important element in a good cover is managing to combine a healthy respect for the original while including the new artist's influences. Oasis have a B-Side version of "My Generation" by The Who which is played with almost too much respect for the original - it sounds the same and we've already had that - Nickelback's version of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" however, is excellent, because there is a good mix of both acts. The other extreme might be The Pet Shop Boys version of "Can't Help Falling In Love With You", which jarred badly because there wasn't any respect for the original and the styles just didn't work. It felt like profiteering.

  • 5 years ago

    Each band has an certain style, a certain something that sets them apart from the others. That style is reflected in the music that they play. A cover song was written by a completely different band with a different style and now the band covering the song is making it their own. Molding it to make it bend where they want and creating something new from the already established. A cover song stays true to the original yet when you hear it, it sounds like the band playing the song wrote it. It's when your at a concert and say to your buddy "I've heard this song before, I didn't know they wrote it". When in actuality the band covering the song made it their own and stayed true to the original. A cover song can make a great song even greater.A song I really had a connection with as a teenager during the 1980s was Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill, and a couple of months ago I discovered the cover version done by Placebo. I love both versions, Kate Bush's own was and remains a classic, but the Placebo version has an edginess about it that I really really like. I think this is what makes it a great cover of a song which for me has a strong emotional resonance - it taps into that emotional well, and reinterprets it, without losing the essence of it, yet the band Placebo managed to put their own stamp on it. True artists reacting to true art.

  • 6 years ago

    What makes a great song in general? I don't know really. It's quite a few things I would think. Some people get absorbed in the lyrics, while others are more taken away by complex rhythms and cord progressions. With thousands of songs using the same cord progressions sometimes you may not even notice it because of the style it is done in. I think that might be what it takes to make a great cover version of a song to. Style. Each band has an certain style, a certain something that sets them apart from the others. That style is reflected in the music that they play. A cover song was written by a completely different band with a different style and now the band covering the song is making it their own. Molding it to make it bend where they want and creating something new from the already established. A cover song stays true to the original yet when you hear it, it sounds like the band playing the song wrote it. It's when your at a concert and say to your buddy "I've heard this song before, I didn't know they wrote it". When in actuality the band covering the song made it their own and stayed true to the original. A cover song can make a great song even greater.

  • 6 years ago

    I realize that we can cite examples all day long of cover versions of previous hits that are argueably better than the original, but that sort of proves my point. Hard-core Springsteen fans are going to be about the only ones that prefer his version of "Blinded By The Light". Moreover, only a handful of people even realize that "Superman" is a cover to begin with (The Clique did the original in the 60's - FYI). So, to conclude, if you cover something obscure, you've got a leg up on doing a great cover. Then, it's a matter of capturing the essence of what the writer was trying to convey, and laying down an inspired rendition, either re-worked or faithful to the original. Who knows? If there was a formula then we'd all be great wouldn't we? Artists who don't write their own stuff seem to have greater credibility singing cover versions. Whenever I hear a band do a cover version I always think it's because they've dried up. If you're Elvis, you can make a career of it...if you're Gareth Gates, then your days are numbered. You've got to love the song and do something a bit special with it. Just do it for the right reasons and it'll be at the very least credible.

  • 1 decade ago

    A truly great cover version of a song is one where the cover band realizes that they can never, EVER replace the sentimental value of the original song. Don't try to take the original version and make it better and do it exactly the same - you'll only end up with a mediocre and forgetful song. A truly great cover version also is where a band adds something or brings something out in the song that was already there. And finally, a truly great cover version is one where the band really loves the song and isn't doing it for the money or the publicity or the ego of it all. The song has meaning to them.

    Some of my favorite covers:

    Eurthymics: Walking In A Winter Wonderland

    The Pretenders: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

    Linda Eder: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

    Chaka Khan: I Feel For You

    Pet Shop Boys: Where The Streets Have No Name

    Whitney Houston: I Will Always Love You

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