An artist performing another artists’ song is an important part of the world of music. Covers can mark the proliferation of certain influences and styles, and the expansion of musical perspectives. They can be a nod of approval to fellow artists, or opportunities for cross-genre experiments. They might also be exhibitions of raw talent, publicity stunts, or just done for the sake of a good, hearty laugh.
Artists play other artists’ music every day, so where should we start? A good place would be Florence and the Machine’s recent cover of Drake’s new track “Take Care” featuring Rihanna. The indie pop princess having a crack at a hip-hop mogul’s work is an eye-catching leap, which helps peak audiences’ interest. Yet Florence transposes the song into her own style, a crucial element of successful covers. More importantly, she breathes new life into the song, creating a version that’s perhaps better than the original.
Still, a cover need not strive to outdo the original performance, as long as the song is interpreted in a new way. In recent tours British rocker Miles Kane has covered The Beatles’ classic “Hey Bulldog”, and Kane himself would admit that it’s hard to top the original. But Kane’s performance of the track is fresh, lively and fun. He imparts his own flair onto the tune, raising the tempo and sprinkling the song with a bit of modernity, even inserting the occasional seductive howl.
At minimum, covers force listeners to think about songs in new, interesting ways. What are some recent covers you find intriguing?