I recently made a list of songs that I plan on doing cover versions of. It’s hard to determine what songs will be worthwhile to put one’s own personal take on.
- The first criteria, and possibly the easiest to determine, is the obvious one, do I like the song. Almost seems like a no brainer, but if it’s not one of my favorite songs why cover it.
- The second criteria I looked at was does the song invoke an emotional response in me. If I don’t have an emotional connection to a song, why would I attempt a cover of it. The original artist created the song for a reason, the least I can do is have a reason with more substance to it than “it’s got a good beat and I can dance to it”.
- Criteria three? Will this song translate into my style of music? That’s a tough one. I’m pretty sure that the songs I’ve chosen so far will adapt to my brand of music, but really I won’t know until I start laying the tracks down. To me, the best covers treat the original song with respect, but seamlessly infuse the covering musician’s style into the original intent. The new artist makes it their own. If I want to listen to someone do an exact copy of the original, I’ll listen to the original.
- The fourth stop on the criteria train is popularity of the song. Now I’m not saying one should cover only an artists most popular songs, actually in some cases quite the opposite. I absolutely love Blue Monday by New Order, and it fits the first three criteria almost perfectly, but there have been so many covers done of it due to its popularity that I just don’t have an interest in doing my own version at this time. On the other hand, another song I’ve chosen to try my hand at happens to be one of the most popular (and covered) songs by a particular band. I think this may be due to a particularly strong emotional bond I have with this song. Like I said, this can be a tricky process.
- A fifth criteria would be how will the fan base of the original song respond to the cover. This is another tricky one. In some cases the cover is so different that the original fan base may not even be a concern as I’m aimed in a totally different direction. Sometimes the fan bases overlap, and again, I want to respectful towards the original, and it’s fans. But, this is music afterall, and frankly you can’t please everyone with everything. The fanbase I’m aimed at may think my cover sucks, but the fans of the original may think its a fantastically fresh take on their world. Or just the opposite. Or everyone hates it. Or everyone loves it. You just never know.
- Finally, the sixth criteria, which dovetails into the fifth one to a certain extent, is how would the original artist respond to the cover. As an artist myself, I feel that I should handle another artists work with the utmost respect. It is their sweat and emotion that went into the original, and I am merely adding my own twist to it, but I know I would not like to hear one of my songs done in a blatantly grotesque manner, ill-fitting of the original intent of the song.
That’s pretty much it I’ll keep you updated as to the progress of my covers.