Under The Covers
As you might imagine, I discuss music on a regular basis with DJs, producers, musicians and friends all over the world and there's one topic in particular that always ensures a heated debate. Whether you like them or not they make up a large part of music history and most artists will have recorded one at some stage of their career. Love them or loathe them they have been around since the charts began and show no signs of losing momentum. At some point almost every artist will have recorded their version of someone else's song; sometimes with the sole intention of a chart hit or else as a bonus track on a CD single or album or a ‘B-side’ (for those of you old enough to remember vinyl). Some are good, some are bad and some are truly dreadful. We are, of course, talking about cover versions!
Music is subjective and often divides opinions so I have to tread very carefully when writing an article like this one. The songs mentioned are my personal choices based on my career as a DJ/music producer and the reaction they have on the audiences I play to. Some of my selections you will agree with, whilst others may have you scratching your head as to why they are featured. I’m also sure there will be many great tracks that I haven't mentioned that you feel should be included... but that's what I love about music!
Cover versions have been around since the charts began in the 1950s. Pat Boone covered 'Ain't That a Shame' that was originally a hit for Fats Domino, Elvis Presley covered 'Blue Suede Shoes' by Carl Perkins and who knew that 'Shake, Rattle and Roll' by Bill Haley and his Comets was a cover version? In the 1960s the trend continued to grow with many acts having far more success with a cover version than their own original compositions. In the 1970s Showaddywaddy built an entire career based around covering classic rock & roll tracks and, in fairness, they did it well and brought those songs to a whole new audience.
The 1980s was a real boom-time for cover versions with many topping the charts – 'Red Red Wine', 'I Feel For You', 'Only You', 'I Think We're Alone Now', 'Everything I Own', 'Always On My Mind'... the list goes on! The popularity of covers showed no sign of letting up in the 1990s. The decade kicked off with covers including 'Nothin' Compares 2 U' by Sinead O'Connor and Kylie Minogue’s 'Tears On My Pillow'. Then the emergence of the boy band ensured the cover version would remain strong until the end of the decade. Take That, Boyzone and Westlife were amongst many who had at least one cover version within their discography.
Throughout the 2000s there was a huge influx of dance covers that graced the charts. They were fantastic to play as a DJ as they gave new life to older songs allowing you to create innovative sets. Filterfunk, Hi_Tack, Beatfreakz, Supermode, Uniting Nations and Cabin Crew were amongst the acts who jumped on the bandwagon and enjoyed huge chart success.
More recently there has been a trend of current artists recording cover versions for BBC Radio 1 (Live Lounge) and Radio 2 (Saturday Sessions). These have proved hugely popular with the stations respective audiences resulting in several compilations being released. So it seems that the cover version looks set to stick around for many more years to come!
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 77, Pages 36 - 38.