Cover songs can tell more than a thousand words about you. If you choose a cover song wisely, you can make your original material much more accessible to people who don’t know you yet. Don’t simply choose a cover song, because you’re a fan of the original band and play it exactly like they do. Choose a song that tells something about you, that you can give a whole new meaning or that will establish you with a certain genre.
Here are five examples of well chosen cover songs:
1. Introduce Yourself: HIM – Wicked Game
HIM covered Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game on their first album. It was the song that initially broke them into everyones consciousness. The original song was a quiet, thoughtful country ballad, which HIM turned into a racy rock tune. The cover introduced an unknown band and it fit the band so well, that it could’ve been written by HIM itself.
2. Find Your Own Sound: Stevie Wonder – Light My Fire
Stevie Wonder was a successful Motown artist by the age of 13. His early hits were lean and mean Motown products. When he started to grow up and long for his own sound, covers provided a great way for him to explore his own style. The Doors’ legendary Light My Fire was a contemporary hit in 1968 when Stevie released his own version of it. Looking back, it’s easy to hear Stevie’s trademark sound on this track.
3. Belong To A Scene: Apocalyptica – Nothing Else Matters
Apocalyptica could be described as a cello quartet. However these cellist’s identity is closer to a heavy metal scene than the classical music scene. Apocalyptica kicked off their career with an album of Metallica covers. That album established them in the heavy metal scene, and they have since released several successful albums of original material, collaborating with many heavy metal acts including Slipknot, Slayer and Soulfly. Had Apocalyptica started without the obvious reference to the genre, they would’ve probably ended up in concert halls playing chamber music. Nothing Else Matters has a beautiful classical arrangement, but it immediately tells the heavy metal audience that this band is one of them.
4. Show Your Skills: Sansa – Boys (Summertime Love)
Back in the Eighties a busty Italian pop tart Sabrina burst out of her bikini into everyones consciousness with a dreadful Eurodisco hit Boys. As an artist Sansa couldn’t be further away from Sabrina. Sansa is a soulful, thoughtful, talented artist. Her version of Boys really shows what the difference between a musician and – well Sabrina – truly is. The cover song showcases her skills and tells in three minutes that she can turn anything into a breath-taking piece of music.
5. Offer A New Interpretation: Johnny Cash – Hurt
Nine Inch Nails’ song Hurt is an iconic industrial rock song. It was written from the depths of a tortured young man’s heroin addiction. The original version is full of anger and pain. Johnny Cash recorded Hurt at the age of 70, a year before he died. Cash’s version gives a whole new meaning to the original song. His interpretation of Hurt is about an old man looking back to his life, full of love and regret to what he has experienced and made his loved ones go through. The lyrics and the music are the same, but his delivery makes this a whole new song.
Do you have any interesting examples of cover songs that can tell something more about the artists than a five page bio could ever do. Share your examples in comments below!