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Why are "covers" looked down on?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Amara, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Amara

    Amara Fumble-Fingered Beginner Supporting Member

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    Jazz has "standards." Blues has "standards." The Great American Songbook has "standards." Classical has "the repertory."

    Rock and the popular genres derived from it have "covers," and bands who play them are considered less artistically valid than bands who write their own material. Why?

    Is it the emphasis on recorded music? Other genres record, too, and many of the top-selling recordings of all time are from those genres. And a lot of recent popular artists perform songs written for them by songwriters, rather than their own new material. Much of the material from 1950s rock and roll acts wasn't written by the artist, either, including covers of blues and old-time country songs.

    Why the emphasis on being both a musician and a composer? They seem like largely disjoint skill sets.
  2. mellowinman

    mellowinman

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    My band plays covers, and we are as artistically valid as anyone.

    Anyone who says different is an ass.
  3. philvanv

    philvanv Gerbil Turds, Kitsap County Turd Core Supporting Member

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    I don't think it's looked down upon except by younger musicans that haven't mentally matured. Besides that I don't think its as looked down on as much as you think it is.
  4. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33

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    The acceptance of playing covers is due to diminishing capacity that comes with age. When you're a teenager you know everything, but as you age and your mind becomes slower and weaker you start to not mind so much.
  5. ZenG

    ZenG

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    I am all for covers......


    In my head I can think of a lot of covers for a lot of songs...

    Many great rock songs are just screaming to be covered....

    even the big hits.......

    Some covers I've heard sound better than the original.

    There's a giant motherlode out there waiting to be tapped for covers.......

    If I had the recording studio,the right musicians and the right producers (and a ton of money) I'd do a whole bunch of them myself.

    Change instruments around.....change vocals around.....change harmonies around.....I could spend the rest of my life in a studio doing that.........:bassist::D
  6. Marginal Tom

    Marginal Tom

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    Every good cover song began as an original song. I don't have the skills required to write good lyrics and catchy melodies, and I don't know anyone personally who does, so I prefer to play and sing covers. There's a reason thousands and thousands of original songs are written each year (mostly by professional songwriters), but only a few become hits. Boring melodies and trite lyrics have something to do with that.
  7. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

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    Why are "covers" looked down on?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Because there are bands out there who think their mediocre unknown songs are better than successful songs that people actually want to hear.
  8. Milk

    Milk Supporting Member

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    Youre completely missing the point of writing original material though.

    This might sound twatty "artiste" like but...I write songs because i have to. Even if no one ever gave a **** about my songs, i'd still write them. I did stop for some years and i was a lot more miserable psychologically. And I don't play covers not because i look down on it but just because ultimately i don't have to. There's no desire inside me to cover even songs i love (though i've done it once before over ten years ago, but more as a learning experience and just for one show).

    I think you'll find most people playing originals rarely considered playing covers instead. It was just something they had to do. Talented or not.
  9. Nashrakh

    Nashrakh

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    Looked down on? On TB it's the opposite, you mainly see people smack-talking originals with 'yo momma's basement' banter. So much for maturity.
  10. mcarp555

    mcarp555

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    It's probably splitting hairs, but the difference between a "standard" and a "cover" is that a "standard" is the basis for a personal interpretation. A "cover" is expected to be close to the original version (or at least, the "popular" version). Sometimes the lines get blurred if a version of a "standard" is seen as a definitive version. Then future "covers" are similar to that definitive version (or at least until a new 'definitive' version replaces the older one).
  11. Low Sound Love

    Low Sound Love

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    playing music is one skill, writing music is another. one who can do both well, deserves double the credit
  12. panamonte

    panamonte

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    Up until the early 60s there was, by and large, a clear demarcation between songwriter and performer - the whole Tin Pan Alley scene. Songwriters wrote songs, performers performed and A&R guys (and they were pretty much always guys) found suitable songs for their performers. Inevitably, several different performers might release versions of a particular song if it proved to be popular.

    This changed with the Beatles (a slight oversimplification, but bear with me) and from the mid-60s onwards you have a whole slew of artists and bands who make it very much part of their artistic identity to write and perform their own material. Consequently songs became very much identified with the artists who wrote and performed them and a feeling arose that the original versions were definitive.

    IMO that's why there is a slightly different attitude towards jazz 'standards' and rock/pop 'covers'.
  13. paulears

    paulears

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    As somebody in a tribute band, I find it's so much harder than playing your own music. So If I stand in for somebody and we play a pop standard - it can be easy or hard to play. To play it in the style of the original artiste is usually harder, but often you actually don't like the original artiste's arrangement. I never look down on any band that plays good music well. If they play it ineptly, or maybe do crazy things with a 'standard' then I pull a face. Good music of any kind is good, and we all recognise bad music. My band does Beach Boy music, but some songs they did well with in the US are better known here in a different style by a British Artiste - and that's very weird!
  14. Kmonk

    Kmonk

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    I don't think there is anything wrong with playing covers but the sad fact is that most bands, original and cover, are not very good and most cover bands are playing the same songs. Many original artists feel that cover bands lack creativity but there have been plenty of national acts who had their big break by doing a cover.
  15. Nashrakh

    Nashrakh

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    Hmm, I don't see the expectation of covers to be as close as possible to the original. If anything, covers that get air play are usually only somewhat related to the original - so that expectation must apparently only be true at the bar gig level. Maybe they are doing something wrong?

    I think the difference lies at the bottom of two very different concepts - standards are usually vehicles for improvisations, covers generally are not though they can be (improvised solo sections etc). And it depends on what you cover - if you do Hendrix it is good manners to go flywheel on the impro.
  16. Major Softie

    Major Softie

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    Thank god someone actually addressed the OP's question.

    I don't 100% agree that this is the difference, but cudos, nevertheless, for just answering the damn question.

    IMO, "covers" are repetitions of a popular recording. "Standards" are repetitions of popular songs. A song can be done many ways. A "cover" is covering one band's version of one song.
  17. Jools4001

    Jools4001

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    I've played in originals bands and I've played in covers bands (as my current band is). They both have their own challenges.

    In an originals band you have to exercise your imagination and creativity to come up with a bass line that fits the song (although some of our songs were written from the bass line up), but the chances are that you will be playing in the comfort zone of your own style.

    In a covers band, everything is laid out for you to learn (and maybe to add your own variations to parts that are not an iconic part of the song), but the original may well have been written by a bass player who is either more technically accomplished than you are, or plays in a different style to your own...and then the set list might mean you have to change from one style to some completely different ones in the space of a few songs so either way it's going to stretch your technique and versatility.

    So, originals or covers can both help you grow as an overall musician and are therefore both equally valid in my book
  18. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

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    Wow! I'm not against covers at all, but we're right out of the gate with this one...

    Do you really believe that? If so, please explain because it makes no sense to me whatsoever.

    As far as why covers are often looked down upon, statements like above are part of the reason. People who do original music have tons more on their plate if they want to achieve any kind of success, or earn any kind of money. They have to go way beyong that which a cover band would have to do, and then some cover band dude will come by and say something like, "Well, work your ass off and spend all your money, you ass... I'll play in a cover band, put in half the work, half the money, and earn way more than you."

    And I'm not saying this about mellowinman, but a handful of cover dudes with big egos who act as if "they" created their success, add to the mix. Yeah, I know, there's work that goes into creating a successful cover band, but it does't even come NEAR what it takes for originals.

    It's easy to pack a room with 150 people coming to see you play covers. I've done it countless times. Try doing it with original music. It's a completely different game.

    And if anyone would like to argue it, I'd be happy to. Waaaaay, waaaaaaaay more goes into having a succesful original band than what goes into a successful cover band.

    And I've nothing at all against playing covers. I like it, in fact.
  19. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Supporting Member

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    Back when I was a young guy, I considered cover bands sellouts or simply guys that gave up on the dream.
    As I was quickly approaching 30 years old and I looked down at the 10000000th package of craft mac and cheese I was preparing in my world of musical poverty, I started to rethink my position.
    I decided being on stage and possibly getting paid was noble enough and began trying out for pro cover bands.
    Now, approaching my 48th birthday I'd have to be awfully excited by some dudes originals to even consider auditioning for an original act- I don't have the time for mediocre material!
    At least in my current "cover" band I get to interpret Al green, Wilson Picket, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin!
    No mediocrity is my new battle cry.
  20. AaronVonRock

    AaronVonRock

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    When I was growing up, cover bands were looked at as being cheesy. Cover bands played weddings, cruise ships, restaurant patios, and lame bars. Cover bands were usually a jukebox or musical wallpaper and today are pretty much the same as a karaoke machine. There is usually nothing artistic, interesting, or unique about cover bands.

    Regarding OP's question, I think cover bands are looked down upon because most cover bands play pretty much the same songs worldwide and the song selection appeals to the lowest common denominator. It's possible to guess the bulk of a cover band's set list even before listening to their first song and without fail, it's never going to be as good as the original. It takes much more creativity and hard work to come up with your own songs. And it takes even more hard work (and luck?) to become successful at it.

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