What Songs are People Covering, and Why?

January 4, 2011{ 121 Comments }

iStock 000001807235XSmall 300x199 What Songs are People Covering, and Why?Last month we told you what some of the most-covered Holiday songs were according to Limelight, the mechanical licensing clearance service that CD Baby has partnered with to help our artists. This month, Hypebot just posted the top-10 most-covered non-Holiday songs (Sorry- that is too many hyphens) in 2010, worldwide.

Check out the results HERE. I suppose they’re not that surprising. Newer artists like Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and Lady Antebellum didn’t make the list. Instead, classics from the last century still reign supreme. Long live jazz standards and the Great American Songbook! Oh, and L. Cohen and John Lennon too.

So, what songs are YOU covering? What considerations are you making when you choose a cover song? Do you try to perform/record a faithful arrangement? Do you try to do some wild re-interpretation? Are the songs current or classic? Are they popular or obscure?

We’d love to hear what songs you’re covering, and more importantly WHY?

-Chris R. at CD Baby

Sell Your Cover Song on iTunes, CD Baby and More!  Click HERE to start.

  • http://www.creativeguise.com Doug McArthur

    I play a heavy version of Eleanor Rigby that gets some good feedback, along with a sped up cover of Leaders of the Free World by Elbow, because I just adore that band and can really get behind the music. I try to balance songs that I really love with what I think will be crowd pleasers. For a while we played a Journey song and I hated every second of it, even though the audience loved it. So you have to keep that in mind too – don't be so quick to just play covers you think the listeners will like.

  • http://www.brianbotkiller.com brian botkiller

    We covered "She bop" by Lauper, because it rules:

    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/VertigoVenus1

  • http://www.randomencounter.com Careless

    I cover popular video game music with my band. The reason for this is because even if we faithfully play each note in the same way as original we are performing music that has not yet been heard by the human ear with real instrumentation. We don’t cover songs that are too obscure anymore because we found that people don’t have as much of an appreciation for a remake of something they’ve never seen before and would be just as happy hearing something completely new. That’s why we try to stick to the more mainstream/popular game songs. Also, because most modern game music has gone orchestral we generally stick to older games. We do a pretty faithful job of playing the songs as close to the original as attainable, but because the songs are so short and loop we generally change our interpretation of the music the second or third time through. For instance, we might play a song acoustic, electric, then just play a solo through the chord progression a third time and still barely hit the 2 minute mark.

  • http://www.ziptang.net Perry

    Check out our cover of Tarkus by ELP. It was a challenge for us to tackle and helped us stake our place in the progressive rock genre.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stevencravismusic Steven Cravis, San F

    I cover Fields of Gold (an instrumental solo piano version) because I love Sting's music and this is a piece that felt like my own style of writing and playing.

    I cover it in a very simple straight way. http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/fields-of-gold/i

  • Jamie Dyer

    I play a cover of Superstar by Showaddywaddy. Also a range of Show of Hands Covers including Now You Know which, although people don't know it, they love it!

  • http://innergypsy.com Mario Vickram Sen

    We love to cover songs that would not appear to fit with our style, (although our style does have quite a lot of range), But the idea is to take something like Sonny & Cher's classic pop song, "I Got You Babe," And do it a completely different way. (You can hear that on our website at: http://www.innergypsy.com/musicvideo.html – along with the rest of our album "Gypsychology.) We hope we have created something that is more musical… or, musician friendly, than the original. We changed the time signature to 4/4, and had to do some alterations to the open riffs, which remain in 3/4 time, in order to make everything fit. It has a much funkier rhythm, with a slightly latin flavor.

  • Mark Laperle

    I am an accoustic soloist. When I'm not paying originals, I play covers from the 70's: Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, etc. These are the songs I grew up with and have always loved. They are called "classics" for a reason. My motto: When all else fails, play James Taylor. :)

  • http://www.stear.us Stear

    When I did the Christmas CD, I really had little money to put into licensing so I went with public domain songs (the standard classics) with a few originals written for the season. The arrangements varied from single guitar and melodies to fully produced rock-ish version of God Rest Ye Merry… I try to put a cover on each CD, obscure but well known songs, ones that I feel bring the listener back to where they were with that specific tune. Most importantly, keeping the song true to itself but never trying to match or outdo the original. Keeping the song close to who you are as an artist avoids the division of the audience.

  • http://www.theoldfolkie.com Michael Gailinas

    Being a folk musician my cover tunes include material from Jim Croce, Gordon Lighfoot, other 70's artists and even Kingston Trio and Chad Mitchell Trio material. I'm still warmed by the response I get from an older fan when I do Scotch & Soda and I learned to fingerpick studying Croce material and usually pull it off fairly well. I'm only an average singer so I try to showcase my picking a lot, whether it's anlder "standards" or original material.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpO2tW4mbj4 Rob Kovacs

    Return of Simple did a cover of detailed faithful arrangement of Daft Punk's Harder Better Faster Stronger with the goal of using no electronic instruments. We thought it'd be musically challenging (which it certainly was) and it's an awesome son that we wanted to perform for our listeners.

    Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpO2tW4mbj4

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bobdylan Steve S.

    I am currently working on releasing an album of Bob Dylan covers. This project is similar to one that I have done previously per the link provided.

    Some of the songs are well known and some are not so well known. They are all older songs rather than current songs. The new renditions we are releasing made no effort to imitate Dylan or anyone else who has covered these songs previously. In fact, some of the arrangements are totally different from any previous covers. Many Dylan fans collect covers of his songs and enjoy hearing them done in a different manner as long as they sound good. Some have even have minor changes to the lyrics, something which normally would require permission from the artist or publisher but I doubt there will be any objections to the changes that were made.

    Why Dylan? Because one of the artists that I represent had 4 Dylan covers already that were recorded some years ago [2002-2005]. I was going to release just a 4-song EP but got to thinking that it doesn't cost much more to release a full album than it does to release an EP so I invited 2 other artists to be part of the project. Also, Dylan's publishers are easy to deal with. They grant licensing with no problems so I don't have to deal with Limelight or any other 'middle man' and I only have to report to them once every 3 months. This will save me the cost of a licensing fee in addition to paying the royalties on each song. The bookkeeping is really no different since you have to keep track of sales anyway. Reporting every 3 months is a bit more work and a responsibility that can't be ignored but I can handle that.

  • http://www.AllisonLynn.com Allison Lynn

    Covering songs is really popular in Christian music as we try to blend our rich musical tradition with new sounds and new audiences.

    My husband and I form a duo called Infinitely More (www.InfinitelyMore.ca) We've covered a lot of hymns and spirituals, but we always try to give them a fresh sound, unique to our signature style. Otherwise, they just become white noise and the message of the song gets lost.

    We've recently added "All You Need is Love" our rep, and we've also given that our own groove and sound. We always want to respect the original song and songwriter, but a great song can always bend a little with breaking :)

  • http://www.thirdrockmusic.ca Henry Locke

    Our band (Third Rock) plays a mixture of rock covers and originals from our album 'Original Sin'. As do most bands, we try to cover crowd pleasers and try to find that balance between what we want to play, and what the crowd wants to hear. Myself I'll forever be holding on to that eternal rock n' roll attitude of 'stick it to the man' but I also want to look out at the audience and see people smiling from ear to ear, enjoying the moment, and smile right back. There is a real balance there, because if I'm not diggin' what I'm doing, nobody else will.

    So here's 10 songs from our current list that seem to go over really great, as well as keep me smiling:

    Paradise By the Dashboard Light (Meatloaf)

    Vertigo (U2)

    Time Warp (from: Rocky Horror Picture Show)

    Ballroom Blitz (Sweet)

    Fortunate Son (CCR)

    Under Pressure (Queen/Bowie)

    Raise A Little Hell (Trooper)

    Rock n' Roll (Zep)

    I Want You to Want Me (Cheap Trick)

    Walkin' On the Sun (Smashmouth)

    Hope this helps!

  • http://www.thereentrants.co.uk Phil Doleman

    We cover big hits from the 60s to the present (Bowie, Britney, Motorhead, Madonna, Guns n Roses), and do it as faithfully to the original as we can, given that our lineup is two ukuleles!

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/nickyswann1 Nicky Swann

    I play my own arrangement of The Beatles 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'

    Whenever I do a cover I like to put my own stamp on things, putting a new angle on a familiar song.

    Let me know what you think! (track 6)
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/nickyswann1

  • http://myspace/fourtoedwilly four toed willy

    we cover "argent" hold your head up,temtation eyes by grass roots ,hand me down shoes by the guess who,led zepplin medley,ring of fire by johny cash,low by cracker, what the world needs now by crackerthese songs have allways got people to the dance floor or at least hanging out at the stage as we play

  • http://www.facebook.com/lowlights Rex Strother

    I ask only one thing of performing artists: Please do not cover HALLELUJAH by Leonard Cohen. It has become the Kokopelli of cover songs.

  • Dave Dowell

    We just did a pretty wild jazz cover of Michelle (Beatles) to a samba groove. We felt that the chord progression, at least the way we arranged it, lent itself well the he Latin genre. Usually ,although not exclusively, I feel covers are done by artists who like the song but want to add a personal twist to it. I've heard many covers that I like more than the originals. Also, once a great song has been around for a while you know it's going to be redone because artists recognize the inherent appeal and like to build on that.

  • http://www.brotherhowe.com Brother Howe

    We recorded a cover of Weezer's Undone (The Sweater Song) for a few reasons:

    1. To pick up some extra fans and sales on iTunes, etc. for when people are searching for the song. Not many people have cover versions of it out there. So there wasn't a lot of competition.

    2. It is Weezer's first hit and therefore a classic song.

    3. Weezer fans might like our band even though we're quite different. My thinking is that since I'm the main songwriter in our band and am a big fan of Weezer, maybe other people who like Weezer will like us.

    4. It was fairly easy to play, but more importantly, we could do a country punk version of the song and put our own unique spin on it. I'm not a big fan of cover songs that are basically imitations of the original.

    Check it out here for free:
    http://www.brotherhowe.com/2009/12/15/undone/

  • http://www.staticpeople.com/ Static People

    We're covering "Moonage Daydream" by David Bowie. This song has been covered before but mostly by guys. Our version is sped up, noisy, punk rock, and has fierce female vocals and creepy keyboards in the chorus. Our singer has been obsessed with this song since 1981 so it was a must.

  • http://www.brazilianaeroplane.com Eduardo Domingues (B

    I have translated Bo Kaspers Orkester music, the top jazz band from Sweden in Brazilian language (and localization of it) with my band because… well, that band is just too great to entertain people only in Sweden, lets get it to Brazil too and as we know, in many other countries Brazilian music is enjoyed as well. No one was born knowing everything so even the most famous artists silently "borrow" inspirations a bit from here and there, absolutely fine I'd say. While making a cover in Brazilian, straight out of such amazing Swedish band, we couldn't say and get the "borrowing" more straight, more honest than this. The result was that we were kicked immediately on the first place in iTunes for Jazz list in Finland as we released the album, and we still haven't yet started the summer campaign in Sweden, the place where Bo Kasper is far better known. Fact: music has no borders, what is good is good, as simple as that, it deserves to be internationalized. We even got a nice short movie about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHNw7F1JYgg

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Hey Eduardo, cool stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.artok.org Rob Taylor/Artok

    I dont know how many people have heard of the rock band Rush? But my bands style is similar to Rush is some ways. We do a cover version of Subdivisions by Rush in which the drummer plays and is the lead singer. It is the unique point of the band and it's style. We think that Rush is a very popular band and has a huge audience and we are big fans. When we play that song live the response is sometimes overwhelming and always positive.

    When Van Halen played You Really Got Me by The Kinks, it was awesome and was played on the radio alot.

    I think that to play a song that is still in Radio rotation as well as loving the song and doing it justice is a great way to introduce your band and gain more fans.

    It's also fun and an audience picks up on that.

  • http://plutoniates.com Ross

    I play in an alternative rock band that plays mostly originals, but we've done faithful, tasteful versions of songs by Gnarls Barkley, Bill Withers, and Stone Temple Pilots. We try to choose the more obscure songs, and the sound of our band sort of applies it's own unique signature to the music, yet we don't change the arrangements or the overall feel all too much.

  • http://www.wolfflive.com Steve Wolff

    I try to pick songs that aren't over played by other artists, but that are well enough known in my market segment. I'll often do acoustic (what I call "Almost Unplugged" as I use a hollow-body Gretsch instead of an acoustic guitar) versions of these songs. When I play them on electric guitar I mostly do faithful covers, but sometimes I'll go bit crazy and do something very different. For example, I do a SKA version of Simon and Garfunkel's song Sounds of Silence. I also do a trance version of the Cure song, The Forest, which I changed around extensively. One thing I won't do is to play songs that I don't like or are neutral about; the amount of practice it takes to get the songs right means that even with songs you like sometimes you get to the point where you're almost sick of them.

  • http://12harmonicchaos.blogspot.com/ 12 Harmonic Chaos

    I've been trying to take heavy songs and re-interpreting them acoustically. I've just recently recorded an At The Drive-In cover and I'm hoping to try some of their later band, The Mars Volta.

  • http://www.youtube.com/walkofftheearth Gianni Luminati

    We have been doing a bunch of covers lately and have had great success selling them! Some have been old classics and some have been new hits. We always try to change the sound and the style. There is nothing worst then a cover that sounds the same as the original! Check some of them out at http://www.youtube.com/walkofftheearth or CDbaby.com/walkofftheearth Thanks!

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Nice video channel! and tunes. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.dmlcartel.com Dodd Michael Lede

    My guitarist & I also play in a cover band called Bare Necessity. We cover all the top 40 hits from the 70's, 80's, up to some current stuff. We don't always like the covers we play, but we are definitely batting-a-thousand with the crowds. We tend to stick to crowd favorites.

    One thing that I stress to the other members is that we should do our own interpretation of the songs. We play them close, but we add our own spices to everything we play. Sometimes, that makes a lesser-liked song easier to swallow.

    In our original band, The DML Cartel, we play a few covers as well. These are more hand-picked to our style. We still do our own interpretation of these songs.

    I believe that is always at the artists discretion to either be loyal to the song, or play it the way you would have written it.

    Dodd

    ~

  • http://Billmadisonmusic.com Bill Madison

    I like doing covers of Dylan songs – Just finished a nice version of Ballad Of A Thin Man. My favorite cover that I have done is, Walkin' The Streets Alone – written by Toy Caldwell. Also I have recorded a pretty neat version of 40,000 Headman by Steve Winwood and Chris Capaldi.

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/leahjoy2 Leah Joy

    The song I play that gets a lot of attention is "You're the One that I want" from Grease. I slowed it down, played an acoustic version of it, and people love it. It is very different from the original, and when people hear it, they spend the first 10 seconds of the song trying to figure out where they know it from. The lyrics are so great in that song – especially when slowed down to enjoy! I sang this song to my sweetie at our wedding, and it was magical!

  • http://www.dannrusso.com Dann Russo

    It's basically the age-old conversation about how many covers "work" in an "all-originals" show, but every so often I throw in one or two. As a mostly-acoustic performer who plays an acoustic like a machine gun, Mumford & Sons' "Little Lion Man" is a great song that shows off some of my chops, and of course everyone LOVES to sing along when I play "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi.

  • http://www.Juhamusic.com JUHA

    In general, if I'm gonna cover a song, I want to make it my own – to transform it not just by switching genre (taking a rock song and making it reggae), but re-interpreting its meaning. I did a cover of Gwen Guthrie's club song "Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent," and with a couple tweaks of lines and adding a gloom to the mood was able to make it in the voice of a male prostitute (my original album version cover of it was pretty moody and non-commercial, though the remix kinda returns it to its club roots). Ya think about what it COULD mean rather than what it is ("Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper was originally a pretty sexist song written by a dude; when she gave it slight rewrites and a whole new energy and sound, she somehow made it a feminist anthem that landed her the feminist Ms. Magazine's "Woman of the Year" award). I shy away from covering songs that I love most; if they've spoken to me powerfully in their classic form, why try to replicate it? The job's been done (though I recognize that sometimes there's a song we just love to sing, so maybe that's reason enough to sing it, even if faithfully). So yeah – a lot of times I'll catch a snippet of a song I just sort of like, but see a way that I could turn it into something really interesting or that speaks to me. That being said, I just did an uncharacteristically faithful cover of Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" as a b-side to my current single, just cuz the music my collaborator played was so purty. We changed stuff around, but not drastically. Did manage to throw in a line from Iggy Pop's "The Passenger," though.

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Funny, I'm actually working up a cover version of "Steppin' Out" with my band for a show in a couple weeks. Love that song.

  • http://www.bookofkills.com Jim Shelley

    While I've got more than 500 originals to draw on, my latest trio plays about 50% covers a la The Grateful Dead. Most of our covers, however, are very old traditional folk songs such as "Hold The Wind" and "Shake My Tree". We just added Hank Williams' "Lost Highway". We also do Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" and the Raconteurs' "Level". We don't play any of the songs as they were originally recorded. For instance, we start "Lost Highway" off with me singing and strumming my guitar and my bassist Amy singing harmony but by the second verse we've launched into a fast punk arrangement. We just play whatever we want…there are no rules as to what we can or can't add to our set list. We might even throw in a song that we'll play once and never revisit.

  • http://www.carycbanksmusic.com Cary C Banks

    I have a CD available on CDBaby of guitar instrumental trackstitled, " Guitar Out In The Rain"; which features the songs of legendary songwriter, Jimmy Webb. Two of the cuts from the CD, "The Highwayman" & " She Moves, Eyes Follow" have been featured on internet radio stations, Gotradio.com and Radioguitar.com The most inspiring part of the whole project was receiving a message from Jimmy Webb himself, stating that he enjoyed the recording.

    Cary C Banks

  • http://www.broadjam.com/johnnyblackburn Johnny Blackburn

    When I do covers, I pick my own personal favorite songs. And whether I try to stay true to the original or "make it my own" really depends on the song, or the reason I'm doing it. I did a Kiss song, "She" and a Fiona Apple song, "Sleep to Dream". With both of those, I attempted to make them "heavier". I've also done "In My Life" by the Beatles, and "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Flyod, and with those, I tried to stay pretty close to the original versions, though I was a little more free with the Flyod song. I've also done a version of "Mailman" by Soundgarden that is somewhat true to the original, but I tried to very up the instrumentation a little. And lastly, I did a cover of Alice in Chain's "Nutshell", again, trying to stay pretty true to the original. I don't do anything with my cover songs as far as selling them, just recording them for fun. Maybe oneday I'll take the nessecary steps to get lisences and actually try to sell them. If anyone wants to hear them, there are a few on my broadjam page, which is linked under "website"…..but all of them can be found on my reverb nation page, http://www.reverbnation.com/johnnyblackburn, just with reverb nation, the quality of the stream is poor.

  • http://www.christianfloyd.com Christian Floyd

    I play acoustic music, so of course I do a respectable version of Hallelujah that the crowd loves. (Fortunately so do I). I also do a lot of 80s songs acoustically: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "If You Were Here," "Don't Dream It's Over," "She Drives Me Crazy," and all of that seems to go over well. I also do a few more contemporary pieces, like "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie, "Winter" by Joshua Radin, "Nothing Left to Lose" by Mat Kearney that seem to go over fairly well. Of course, the classics, like "Brown Eyed Girl," "Stand by Me," and "Under the Boardwalk" are total crowd-pleasers. So I do a mix of stuff I enjoy and stuff I know the crowd will enjoy and hope we meet in the middle. If I don't like the song, I don't do it, 'cause I feel like that would show in my performance and would not be good anyway, so why bother.

    Christian Floyd

    christianfloyd.com

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/HarryGrillo Harry Grillo

    I have been debating over a few cover songs – only because they are songs that I love so much I wish I had written them myself.

    I don't think anyone will be really successful commercially with a cover unless they have a unique take on it – OR they can really kill it vocally – Whitney Houston had a mega hit with I Will Always Love You because of her voice…. Definitely DON'T cover a song you can't sing because no-one will want to hear it. (if I hear one more mediocre attempt at anything Ann Wilson recorded I'll scream…)

    That said I really don't understand how you are suppose to pay royalties for a cover song when you don't know how many downloads/copies of the song you might sell.

  • http://www.ginamark.com GinaMark

    We covered Me and Bobby McGee and have played it faithfully at almost every show for the past 15 years and the crowd goes crazy. Its been one of our best selling downloads as well.

    We gave the song a more current rock feel, not quite as bluesy as Janis's version.

  • http://www.myspace.com/bravestation Derek Wilson

    We were asked to do a cover for a blog that covered independent music – we decided to do 'This Must Be the Place' by Talking Heads http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxqUxnfTUCw as we felt it paralleled our sound, and was classic yet contemporary and would attract listeners from the genre that we are a part of.

    The song was featured on several music blogs including We All Want Someone to Shout For (NYC) and reached over 1K plays. It was then we realized the power of the cover, not only for satiating your existing fan base, but also for acquiring new interest!

    Cheers,

    Derek
    http://www.myspace.com/bravestation

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Awesome! One of my favorite songs of all time. Nice version.

  • http://www.spartacusjones.com spartacus jones

    I've done all my own stuff for so long…

    But I'm thinking about covering a couple of my all time favorite tunes.

    One is Little Wheels by Buffy St. Marie — a great writer.

    The other is Urge for Goin' by Joni Mitchell, another superb writer.

    These are songs that just spoke so directly to my heart that it made me say, damn, I wish I'd written that.

    My arrangements are quite different from the originals.

    I hope they won't think I ruined their songs!

    SJ

  • Chris R. at CD Baby

    Rob, wow! Impressive. I just posted a link to that video on my facebook wall. Really really impressive. It sounds note-for-note across all the instruments.

  • http://www.robertgraham.org Robert Graham

    I recorded a version of "Sunshine" by the Aus/NZ band "Dragon" on my debut release "Storm in a Teacup" – it was a big 70's hit Down Under but didn't make it in North America at all. My producer and I put a new slant on it and was pleased to get very good feedback on it from Todd Hunter of Dragon. What do you think? Check it out: http://www.sonicbids.com/epk/epk.aspx?epk_id=2282

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Cool. Thanks for sharing, Robert.

  • Chris R. at CD Baby

    Rex, I'm on your side. Actually, I think the whole CD Baby marketing department is with ya. I mean, I love that song. But Cohen and Buckley is all we need, thank you very much.

  • http://www.myspace.com/fayedavis Faye Davis

    I recorded a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."

    (you can find it here on CDbaby… ;^))

    It's a song I've always loved, but carries some tension — in many ways it (and the album it's on – "Rumours") exemplifies "70's excess". My parnter Mike Neal and I pared the song down, and gave the production a slightly dusty, Southwestern feel.

  • http://cdbaby.com/nancysadowl Nancy Sadowl

    I cover a diverse number of artists. I like doing Joey by Concrete Blonde and the audience really enjoys it. I also like Los Lobos (Gila Bend), Tracey Chapman (Give Me One Reason). Do a couple of Chris Isaacs songs. I have to enjoy them or it's not fun… I keep the covers that the audience responds well to.

  • http://www.marjoriethompson.com Marjorie Thompson

    I have recorded innovative arrangements of the Beatles' When I'm Sixty Four, and She Loves You. Each is adapted for fingerstyle guitar, with vocals, in a unique way. One is a ragtime jaunt, and the other a heartfelt ballad. They are important contributions to a repertoire that mainly originals based in the country blues guitar genre. And, they are crowd pleasers that help sell CDs.

  • http://facebook.com/brotherwiley milldude

    We play mostly originals, but when we play a cover it's usually because they are songs we wish we had written. They fit our style and our perspective, but they say it better than we could. We've only recorded one cover: "The Ghost of Tom Joad" by Springsteen. Listen here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/BrotherWiley.

    Two current live favorites are "Wagon Wheel," by Old Crow Medicine Show, and "Tailspin," by The Jayhawks.

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      That is a great tune to cover, indeed.

  • http://www.celticharpmusic.com Anne Roos

    I cover what my audience wants to hear, plain and simple. When I play restaurant gigs, customers aren't shy about asking for their favorites, which is okay, because that's what gets my tip jar filled. They try to stump me and ask for music that people think you can't possibly play on the harp.

    So, I play those songs that makes them say, "I can't believe she played that!" The number one request on the harp: "Stairway to Heaven", followed closely by "Free Bird" and then anything by Metallica. And yes, I play them and have covered them on my new CDs (check out "Blue Jeans" on CDBaby.com).

    Cheers,

    Anne :-)

  • http://www.celticharpmusic.com Anne Roos

    P.S.–I am as faithful to the arrangements as I can be, considering that I'm reducing rock band music down to a single instrument, a harp.

  • http://www.myspace.com/solvoanimuspr Dennis

    We did a cover for Coroner's "Sirens" and Saga's "Don't Be Late" is scheduled mid February.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to4vVMGOCWQ

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Rockin! Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/madisonbeat Madison Beat

    I've covered "Circle in the Sand" originally recorded by Belinda Carlisle (written by Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley). I love the original and wanted to create a decent current dance remake.

  • http://www.heartscore-music.de Dirk Radloff

    I have never done cover-songs since my days in school, but actually I a thinking about it, because I assume, that some cover-songs could promote my own music. If ever I will really work on I will choose songs, which are influential for my own stuff. I would like to show people, where some of my musical elements come from.

    The tracklist could look like this:

    Led Zeppelin: What is and what never should be

    Captain Beefheart: Ella Guru

    Joni Mitchell: Circle game

    Queen: Ogre battle

    The Who: Love is coming down

    Mahavishnu orchestra: Dawn

    Slayer: South of heaven

    Yes: Don't kill the whale

    Steely dan: Deacon blues

    Dead kennedys: Winnebago warrior

  • http://www.3RDegreeONLINE.com Robert James Pashman

    My band 3RDegree covered a Yes song for a Yes tribute CD coming out soon on Mellow Records who are based in Italy. Not a "wild" interpretation but we took some significant liberties with their 1977 song "Going For The One" from the album of the same name. Here it is: http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_6763157

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      I have some friends who will be very happy to hear that a band is doing Yes covers!

  • http://blog.theenergycommission.com Jay Weinberg

    Working on a cover that I've wanted to do for years now of "What's the Buzz" from Jesus Christ Superstar. There's such amazingly inspiring tunes from the original soundtrack. We're actually only gonna use the chorus and put in some original rap verses.

    I dig doing covers where I put in some original content too. I'm not sure how copyright works with something like that but I really just like trying to keep alive stuff that's inspired me and passing it down a generation for people who might not get the original.

  • http://www.myspace.com/tasneemmusic tasneem

    hi

    i covered paul simon's 50 ways to leave your lover.

    you can hear it at http://www.myspace.com/tasneemmusic

    thanks.

    ; )

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Nice. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.myspace.com/ajandthetwotimers A.J.

    I try to pick obscure rockabilly material.The arrangements stay pretty true to the originals with minor improvements.Obscurity helps keep the royalty costs down.I always try and make sure the writers get paid.I may not be able to find a song to pay them,but at least I file.

  • http://www.devlinpierce.com Devlin Pierce

    I'm a solo artist (much like Mark Larerle- shout out to Mark!) and in a band. In our band we are working the whole gambit- Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar", which I just love the groove on, to Incubus' "Drive" because we all enjoy some Incubus. Myself as a solo artist, I like to cover things that have meaning to me or have impressed me over the years. Things like a jazzy version of Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla", acoustic takes on Radiohead's "Karma Police" and The Pixies "Where Is My Mind", and personal long time favorites like Pearl Jam's "Immortality", The Nat King Cole Trio's "Straighten Up And Fly Right", and Pedro The Lion's "June 18, 1976".

    I find that I can't cover it if I can't "feel" it- if it has know depth or meaning to me personally, it really matters very little had good or popular a song is, I just can't do it. I won't make people sit there and listen to me trudge through music- they are there to see and feel music come alive, so it has to be alive to me.

  • http://www.devlinpierce.com Devlin Pierce

    yea, that's Mark Laperle, not Larerle- sorry Mark, been a long day!

  • Taylor Walding

    Over the holidays I covered La Roux, KoRn, Limp Bizkit, Muse, & NIN, but did them in more contemporary yet unorthodox formats.

  • http://www.axelwolph.com Axel Wolph

    Hi there!

    I did a cover version of Robert Palmer's "Johnny & Mary". Why? I don't know. I knew this song from my sister who is ten years older than me and had this song on home rotation in the eighties. One day I came into my studio, picked an acoustic guitar and played the song. A few days later we filmed the video in our studio storage. In the meantime about 50000 people have watched in on YouTube. NICE!

    Hope you like it!

    Best,

    Axel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eboEJOe_BY

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Sweet! Nice version. Really brings out the ennui in that tune.

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      In fact, I just posted it on our facebook page.

  • http://www.franklyspeakingmusic.com jordon

    we cover MGMT and everyone loves it. "kids" and "time to pretend" are favorites… also seven nation army-white stripes and phish covers are crowd pleasers…get what you give- new radicals also fun and well received.

  • http://justbychanceband.com Andy Jones

    We cover Doctor Doctor by UFO as its lively, not so obvious and it grabs the attention of the hard rock crowd. Put our own spin on it as were an acoustic duo. Liz wrote a new intro/outro for it too :-)

  • http://justbychanceband.com Andy Jones

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adrR3lYJbAA&fe

    Forgot to add a link – think that should work.

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Thanks, Andy.

  • DW

    Our show is usually about 2/3 covers and 1/3 originals. A lot of our gigs are country where we play covers by Willie Nelson (On the road again, Always On My Mind), Hank Williams (Jambalaya, Hey Good Lookin'), Garth Brooks (If Tomorrow Never Comes), Merle Haggard (Mama Tried), Little Feat (Willin'), Steve Goodman (City of New Orleans), and John Denver (Country Roads) and others. Other gigs are rock and roll mostly 50's and 60's, and they love songs like Rock Around the Clock, Johnny B. Goode, Good Golly, Miss Molly, Great Balls of Fire, Blueberry Hill, Georgia, You Never Can Tell, Lay Down Sally, I Saw Her Standing There, etc. Honky Tonk Woman, Brown Sugar, You Can Leave Your Hat On, Unchain My Heart, Louisiana 1927, Mojo Workin', Hootchie Cootchie Man, Sweet Home Chicago, Six Days On the Road and Driving My Life Away are also some that we cover regularly and that go over very well. There are lots more, I guess the main thing is to enjoy the songs your covering. It's music, so it's fun.

  • isispaul

    For my 3rd album I am planning to recod the songs I was offered to record in the late 60's for Decca/CBS Records. I heard the songs as original acetate demos by the writers. They will be "Sai, Sai, Sai" with english words written by Peter Calendar, our mentor at the time. He retitled it as "Sad, Sad, Sad". "Meanwhile back in my heart", which I recorded for CBS under the name 'Five Steps Beyond'. "You can't come home again", which I have very recently found out was massacred by P J Proby sadly. "Pretty Flamingo" which was offered to us, 'Five Steps Beyond' if a.n.other well known group at the time turned it down, they didn't unfortunately.

    I also plan to record a version of Randy Edelman's track 'Concrete and clay' and segue it with Long John Baldry's 'Mexico'. That should be interesting. Lastly, "Mockingbird Hill" by Migil 5.

    Check my current albums at CD Baby or itunes, along with the current rerelease of the 'Five Steps Beyond' album.

    Paul Quinton

  • http://www.myspace.com/redeyewalker Red Eye Walker

    This's a good topic… First time I'm replyin' on sumfin' here ;) I just did Imagine by John Lennon… Went allrite I guess but a little different than the original… Check it out on my MySapce/RedEyeWalker… Maybe should do homesicl subterranenan blues too ;)

  • http://Www.charlesjpreuss.com Charles J Preuss

    Though I still don't do much live performing, my first CD is a collection of vintage standards. The songs of this genre were simple but beautifully written and very lyrical. The romantic nature is timeless and the easy listening quality always has a place in our increasingly busy world. What better way to express your love to your significant other than with a song like "More," "More than the greatest love the world has known, this is the love I give to you alone."

    Charles J

  • http://www.gingersands.com Ginger Sands

    I recently released a new cd, "Back to the Garden" which features covers of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock," Tom Petty's "Wildflowers," and Kermit the Frog's "Bein' Green" (actually penned by the talented Joe Raposo of Muppet Show fame). Though I am am a songwriter, I chose to feature all covers on this album, selecting well-loved folk/folk rock and Americana songs that work within the garden theme. This self-produced album ties into my work as teaching artist working with local Nashville organizations engaged in sustainable food issues, nutrition education and combating the health problems that come with childhood obesity. My work with kids in the school garden has underscored my own belief that kids love to "Get Back to the Garden." I chose to add some Carribbean-inspired rhythms to many of the songs as in Creedence's "Up Around the Bend" and Cat' Steven's "Morning Has Broken," creating a "Dolly Parton meets Jimmy Buffet" effect, so I am told. My new motto: Good food is music for the body, good music is food for the soul."

  • http://dnbs-music.com Dizzy dnbs

    my band, the deadly nightshade botanical society, covered stay by Oingo Boingo. we are huge fans of boingo and danny elfman, and wanted to a little tribute, but we also felt we could do our own take on that song with modern instumentation and female vocals

  • http://www.rustybladen.com Rusty Bladen

    This song "Copperhead Road" never fails to fire up a crowd.. .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0z6IAKe3CM

  • Tom

    Gustav Holst once said, "Never compose anything until it becomes a nuisance not to." That's sort of how I look at covers. If a song speaks to me so strongly that it just drives me nuts not to do it, I start working on it. But even if that happens, I think you have to be honest with yourself: If you can't take the song somewhere the original artist didn't, don't do it. Otherwise, you're just making yourself into a second-rate version of someone else.

  • http://www.youtube.com/3legsonwheels Steffen Presley

    My band "3 Legs On Wheels" is a two piece band with a huge live sound. It consists of myself on Hammond organ with pedal bass and keyboards; and Arnold Mollica on drums and vocals. There is no guitarist. This is why we chose our only cover song to be "Manic Depression" by Jimi Hendrix, which we are using as a promotional vehicle (see video on YouTube). We are generally faithful to the original arrangement with the exception of the non-typical instrumentation and a briefly added "quote" from "3rd Stone from the Sun". We fully realized that if this wasn't done extremely convincingly, then we would certainly be a laughing stock!

  • http://www.myspace.com/alfonsoespriella Alfonso Espriella

    I've done a mellow, guitar-chelo version of NIRVANA's Come as you are.

    It's interesting only because it's a new approach to the song. Otherwise it would be mining-less to just copy it, I feel.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCBYRyNzy3Y

    I've also done NINE INCH NAIL'S HURT. Relatively similar to the original, just 'cause I love it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRAVqGC_G6k

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Nice. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/all/oysterclub Steve Tarnoff

    I usually do original material but I have done a few covers. I have done folk songs that I have electrified and rearranged (Erie Canal; She'll Be Coming Around The Mountain), or other songs that also just struck me with inspiration through the serendipity of artistic noodling (such as Just Because – made popular in my mom's day by Les Paul; or Donovan's The Fat Angel). The bottom line is that it has to sound different from what people are used to hearing or what would be the point and fun of creating a "clone" composition.

  • http://www.keithandrewgrim.com Keith Andrew Grim

    I do mostly Christian music so the covers I do are mostly from the Contemporary Christian music days from the 70's and 80's. Most of the music I do is either original or public domain songs. Here is the list of some of the songs I cover during concerts.

    Keith Green: There Is A Redeemer, The Lord Is My Shepherd, Your Love Broke Through

    Billy Sprague: Via Dolorosa (He wrote this song with another guy, I am not sure who did the first version of the song. I think Sandi Patty made it the most famous.)

    Phil Keaggy: Strong Tower, And On That Day and Can You See Me

    Twila Paris: Lamb Of God

    Songs from the non Christian genre I cover are Eleanor Rigby and a friend of mine and me do a cover of All Along The Watchtower sometimes.

    I do cover several Christmas songs that are not public domain: White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Do You hear What I Hear, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Jingle Bell Rock, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, And On That Day (written by Phil Keaggy), and Little Drummer Boy. I am sure there are other Christmas songs that aren't in the public domain I cover, I just can't think of the rest of them off of the top of my head.

  • Raw Milk

    I recently did a cover of The Cure's "The Lovecats" for a radio special. I really enjoy adding depth and different implied meanings to lyrics through delivery without actually changing them.

    You can find it here…

    http://www.myspace.com/rawmilkmusic/music/songs/T

  • http://suerarick.us Sue Rarick

    As a rule I will only cover a song that says exactly what I wanted to say. I don't think anyones captured an addict as well as Sister Morphine, so I recorded it. I don't try to do it note for note, yet I try to keep close to the spirit of the song. A case in point is my cover of Dolly Parton's Jolene. I love both her version and the White Stripes version so I tried to combine the spirit of both in my version.

    Live, I had always loved doing a bunch of Dylan songs at home and finally started to perform them live when I started to perform as a solo performer. In fact all the covers I play are songs I just have a bunch of fun playing just for the sake of playing them.

  • http://georga.se Georga

    Beatles' – "I'm a Loser", Depeche Mode's – "Martyr", "Brand New Cadillac", "Pipeline", Johnny Logan's – "What's Another Year", Mott the Hoople's – "Roll Away the Stone".

    Because I think I almost make new (own) songs out of them.

    Check it out:
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/Georga1

  • http://vintage-uk.com TF Harper

    I chose to cover four of my favorite singles from the UK circa '67-'68 for my debut solo EP, "Vintage UK". “Pictures of Matchstick Men” (Status Quo), “Walking Through My Dreams” (The Pretty Things), “See Emily Play” (Pink Floyd), and “Paper Sun” (Traffic) are the four songs featured. They represent a slice of the psychedelic era that, for me, was when things started to get really interesting.

    I stayed pretty close to the originals but added something of my own (like the lap steel on Matchstick Men) or borrowed (like the guitar solo on Emily) and basically had fun with each track.

    Response has been great, even though the songs chosen weren't necessarily hits in their own time. I plan to do more!

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Sweet tunes! Love those songs.

  • http://www.MauraJensen.wordpress.com,http://www.MusicBizSnips.wordpress.com,http://www.MauraJensen.c Maura Jensen

    I would love to do a classic song in a contemporary style at some point, simply because it has maintained popularity over time, and therefore there is always likely to be a lot of people searching for that song in iTunes and other sites.

    However, (this is just my theory because I haven't officially released any cover songs yet), I'm planning to start with more recent, somewhat lesser-known songs for a few reasons:

    1) There aren't any classic songs I can really picture loving/singing in my style at this point. I don't want to record a song ONLY because its popular, because I think it will lack a genuine sound if my heart's not in it. However, I still might play it live, and post a VIDEO on YouTube, so people can search and fine me that way.

    2) The ones I'm thinking about I've played live and seem to be favorites among listeners FOR ME AS AN ARTIST. 2 out of 3 songs I was actually surprised how overwhelming the response was as opposed to other songs, including covers (those 2 songs were "Love Never Fails" by Brandon Heath, and "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson.) The third song, is more of a classic to a select few… a fav among many for a particular band ("Let That Be Enough" by Switchfoot/Jon Foreman). It's also my fav by Switchfoot, and I wasn't too surprised that listeners liked that one because I also felt that it fit my voice/style well.

    3) For songs that are TOO well-known, it seems that the competition might level out a bit because its a more popular song and more listeners will search for it, but there are also a LOT of artists covering it, which might make it harder for listeners to find YOUR version. The 3 songs I'm thinking of seem "popular" to smaller niche markets, and yet there are only one or NO covers of them already on iTunes. (The one version of "Let That Be Enough" is still REALLY different than how I would be doing it.) There also aren't a million DIFFERENT songs with those same titles. And once I have a cover of one of these songs recorded (particularly a girl version of a guy's song?), I would imagine I could even try and intentionally target the fans of these niche markets, which would be much less overwhelming than targeting "all Beatles fans," etc.

    So those are my thoughts. Please, no one cover these songs now, at least not until after I do! ;)

    Maura Jensen

    Singer-Songwriter
    http://www.MauraJensen.wordpress.com http://www.MusicBizSnips.wordpress.com

  • http://www.MauraJensen.wordpress.com,http://www.MusicBizSnips.wordpress.com,http://www.MauraJensen.c Maura Jensen

    I should correct myself: there are definitely some classics I love and would gladly sing (and have sung live) such as "At Last," "Someone to Watch Over Me," and plenty of other standards, but at this point I just cant see RECORDING them because they simply don't really fit in with everything else in my "style." Sigh… oh branding… ;)

  • Brad

    I do a reggae version of What a Wonderful World, people love it. I also love ragtime and enjoy converting some songs into that format

  • Jamie Oberst

    I was 15 before my dad saw fit to get a car with a radio (I'm 62 now.) On trips, he'd keep us entertained by singing the hits of HIS youth. Ten years ago or so I started working up versions of those "pop songs." Sunny Side of the Street, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Huggin' and Chalkin', and so forth. My arrangements pretty much follow Pop's stripped-down (a capella) arrangements, with the addition of one "Kentucky Thumb-picker" guitar.

  • http://www.erikandhru.com jamgypsy

    I found this story fascinating, as out of 5 CDs, the ONLY cover song I've recorded is "Summertime," which is #1 on your list. Why? I love singing that song, and I think my duo Erik and Dhru does an interesting arrangement with a change-up of tempo in which Erik Hanson played some hot lead acoustic guitar. Our live version is nearly exactly like the studio version, which makes me smile when I perform it. You can preview it on CD Baby at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dhruva3.

  • http://georgeshawmusic.com George Shaw

    I like to do something radically different, largely in part because I'm an instrumental composer. My latest cover is a set of variations on Lady Gaga's Bad Romance in the style of various classical composers. You can check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkwOXo9yL8s

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Interesting project. Nice work!

  • http://www.royalbensonmusic.com mFern

    Much like milldude said, my band (Royal Benson) are a mainly original band that sprinkles our setlist with rarely-covered songs that make an audince say "oh yeah, I know this song!" Our favorites that have gotten a great crowd response have been:

    Low Down – Boz Scaggs

    What Time Is It? – Spin Doctors

    Call Me Al – Paul Simon

    Just the Two of Us – Bill Withers/Grover Washington Jr.

    Don't Let Me Down – Beatles

    Africa – Toto

    Encore – Theme from Cheers

  • http://thepolaroyds.com Randy Hall

    My band, Commodore Perry & the Polaroyds just finished a 15 song CD of cover tunes called "Another Time, Another Place".

    All songs are licensed and ready for distribution.

    The players in our band have been playing for a long time and we wanted to pay tribute to some of our musical influences.

    We chose mostly B sides of songs that we loved because the A sides have been played to death and so many B sides are even more personal to many listeners.

    The idea is to connect with other folks who relate to these songs and turn younger listeners on to music they may not have had a chance to appreciate.

    We are looking for distribution and want to partner with CD Baby, so hopefully you'll be hearing a lot more of our stuff. We also have a large library of original tunes that we hope to guide listeners to who appreciate what we've done here.

  • http://adelezane.com Adele Zane

    I admit it, I've recorded a lot of covers (jazz standards as well as rock & pop tunes) but only if I feel I can reinterpret them and take them somewhere new, otherwise why bother? If you go to iTunes and put in a song and check out all of the covers of it, you'll see what I mean. It's amazing how many are just exact rehashes/imitations of the original and how refreshing it is when someone takes a risk and tries a new approach. Why would someone buy your imitation when they can just as easily buy the original?

  • http://www.danfisk.com Dan Fisk

    Recording cover songs is one thing, playing them live is another. I recently wrote an article as a guest blogger about playing cover gigs for a living while you try to become a full fledged original artist. Check it out:) http://bit.ly/dJUXwF

  • http://blahblah/myspace(fornow) Lyle Stephen Ford

    I've pretty much always done the solo thing; I was doing Leonard Cohen covers back when "Songs of Love and Hate" came out. Hardly anybody knew of him in the joints I played back then; except for "Suzanne", or "Hey, That's No Way to Say Good Bye". In any case, a song, to be a piece of work that deserves consideration for covering has to stand on its own merits with only a voice and piano or guitar. Bach would play Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", for example, using only a church organ or other keyboard. Don Henley's lovely ballads work well, even "New York Minute", if you can do without the muted trumpet and the Gershwinesque intro and bridge. I truly enjoy playing Steely Dan on acoustic guitar, especially "Deacon Blues", "Rikki" and "Don't Take Me Alive", though I've played a slew of them over the years; simply learning to play them with any kind of skill and conviction is a good music education in and of itself. James Taylor's songs are always fun for a fingerpicker like me also, and I don't have to transpose JT's songs because he's in my range. Someone else has said it here too; I won't bother learning a song that doesn't resonate within me; I have to be able to make it my own song in a way, putting it through my own lens; a great song given a "by the numbers" treatment will give me and my audience the essence of the song without screwing around with something that works; It will have my fingerprints on it anyhow, whether I like it or not.

  • Paul Sherman

    All I do are covers, market I'm in eschews originals, but everything I do (100 tunes currently) is unmercifully tweaked, so while I play others' songs they are performed/recorded as renditions. No point in duping exactly, folks can get that on their I pods.

    I'm fond of changing keys, time signatures and guitar textures.

    Many songs that were originally recorded slow and clean sound great fast and crunchy, and others sound great slowed down and cleaner.

  • http://www.soundclick.com/billyk Billy K.

    No surprises on the first four, as well as for "Moon River", "Misty" and especially "Hallelujah". The fact that Eric Clapton decided to do his take on "Autumn Leaves" recently probably inspired people, and therefore you have this spike in covers of the tune.

    I am not familiar with the tune "I Wish You Love" at all, and suprised that "Imagine" made the top 10(are there really THAT many covers of it out there?)Granted, there is a lot of interest in Lennon this past year, but all the covers I've heard are other materials.

    Personally, I prefer to record originals, for the most part. But occasionally, there is the urge to do a cover. My own personal tendencies are towards the obscure/hidden gems of the greats.

    There are the artists that only had minimal success, but you want to be a "champion" for, as in my own passion for Raspberries music. Likewise, there are people that are "champions" for Hawkwind, Beverly Bremers, Big Star….and any artist that should have been bigger than they became….these, in my opinion, are the best songs to cover.

    Likewise, secondary/obscure songs of a major artist are also good covers. I'd much rather do a cover of a Dennis Wilson solo track, than do just another version of "Help Me Rhonda"……..

    Bottom line is to be thoughtful when doing covers. Nobody likes a lame one.

  • Oakley

    My band Summer Lasts Forever usually covers newer popular songs (for example brittney spears) but not because we are fans. When going to concerts like Warped Tour, we noticed that the songs that EVERYONE dances to are covers from artists like Lady Gaga or popular Rap and R&B artists! Personally i go to see a band to hear THEIR music, but i noticed a lot of people only know one song from each band, and usually it is the one song they placed on the most recent 'Punk Goes Crunk' album, so it is usually a cover. Even though i think Britney spears is annoying, people dance to that crap. To get EVERYONE to have a good time, sometimes you have to sell out a little bit. Especially after recording the song. Once it becomes the crowds favorite song, it is expected to be played. Look at The Devil Wears Prada. Since they recorded the cover song 'Still Fly' they play it at every show, or at least every show i have seen them play. As annoing as these songs are, and as overplayed as they already are, it's almost necessary to cover newer songs to win the crowds hearts. On the more possitive side, it can be fun to make your own rendition of crappy songs. Making them fit your style can be a blast. Supply and Demand.

  • http://cdbaby.com/discohymns allan sharp

    interesting question – i have recorded "there's a ghost in my house" and "beyond the sea" (under the band name of discohymns) because they are such brilliant timeless tunes, and i think they benefit from a female vocal – i recorded "climb every mountain" to rescue it from it's smaltzy associations – but i've covered other songs for reasons which are harder to fathom now ! – joni mitchell's "woodstock" but updated the lyrics to a modern perspective (what happened to the dream ?) – i have used the tune of an old hymn "o come emanuel" as the basis of a new song called "hold on" – i have used the tune of john barry's "theme for the deep" as a james bond homage "miss moneypenny" – and strangest of all i have set lyrics to morton gould's brass band piece "revolutionary prelude" and recorded it as "the long march" – so i'm not sure why i chose this unlikely selection other than to conclude that the tunes struck a chord (sorry !) somewhere deep inside and almost demanded to be explored further ..

  • http://cdbaby.com/discohymns allan sharp

    i agree with the post that urged people not to cover hallelujah – my own hallelujah (by discohymns) is a different song, but i think i should have thought about the title a bit more !

  • Li

    Well… because there ALREADY a lot of great songs out there. So while i learn to create my own, i´ve got lots to say with the words/melody of someone else!

  • http://www.markscottmusic.com Mark Scott

    I did a bunch of "cover" songs on my latest CD – but they weren't covers of hit songs, rather deeper tracks on various CDs that I've always liked. A music exec in Nashville told me this is kind of a common practice – even if a song isn't released as a single, you know the even the deeper tracks have been focus-grouped to ensure that some folks like them and that they are quality. So there's one hurdle out of the way. Then if the song really means something to you as an artist, its yours to use (as long as you pay the appropriate licensing fees and all).

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/leehall Jordan Lee

    In the early days of cd baby, Derek advised putting a public domain song on along with the originals. He reasoned that even though a local musician may not have a famous name – the well known song itself is famous and will attract sales by merit.

    I considered the classic Amazing Grace and as predicted and it sold well. But that song was nothing compared to my guitar version of Silent Night which still reigns as my all-time top seller since 2007.

  • http://www.boblarromusic.com Bob Larro

    I cover the songs people want to hear and dance to at an event…R&B Classics, Motown Standards, The Beatles, Jazz Classics and the Great American Song Book. Whether I'm singing with my 19 piece big band or doing my guitar/vocal single this repertoire serves me well. I love doing my orignals and my audience seems to respond to them well. It's vital to know how to place the right covers or originals at the correct time and for the right audience.

  • http://www.examiner.com/rock-music-in-los-angeles/diana-diaz Diana Diaz

    I have an a capella group. We do a mix of classical and modern music.

    What y'all call covers, we call vocal arrangements. ;)

    But, yes, we song other people's songs.

    Blue Moon

    Chapel of Love

    Hey Jude

    etc…

  • http://www.superficialsband.com Erik

    What this list really represents are the Top Ten Cover Songs that are reported to music tracking companies like BMI and ASCAP. The classic tunes that made the cut are likely to be covered by professional artists at venues that send info to performing rights agencies, which is the correct and legal thing to do.

    However, I don't believe I've ever walked into a honky-tonk or dive bar to hear a band singing about how they're "As helpless as a kitten up a tree."

    In my experience, what you cover varies greatly on the audience for whom your playing. For example, I'm probably not going to whip out John Denver's "Annie's Song" at anything BUT a wedding. Demographics have a great deal to do with it too…I know that a Hank Williams Jr. cover like "Dinosaur" does surprisingly well with college kids in the Deep South, even though most of the students weren't even born when it came out…while plenty of folks in the Pacific Northwest would have a very limited knowledge of Bocephus' catalogue.

    Still, North or South, Wedding Party or Divorce Bender, we all know there are a handful of songs that get drunk women dancing, be it the ubiquitous "Brown Eyed Girl", or the get-your-butt-out-on-the-floor-you-hot-cougar favorite "Brickhouse".

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rileyweber2 Riley

    I just released my first cover song, which is a rock version of Dynamite, by Taio Cruz. I'd been reading blogs such as this one about all the advantages of making cover songs, and thought I'd give it a shot.

    I chose the song, first because I like it. Second, I wanted to throw my own spin on it, and, while the song is still on the charts, I was hoping that people would want a different take on the same song.

    I played and all the parts, and actually sped the song up a little, to make it a little better, in my opinion.

    It's been fun learning the song, and I can say that simply by studying the song, my musicianship has gotten a little better. I have a handful of other cover songs that I am working on and I would like to release them with some originals in the near future. All my covers, I clear through Limelight. They make it easy to pay the royalties.

  • Mary

    I'm gonna have to look into that Limelight service if I ever finish working on my current album. I won't spill the beans on the cover song I want to do. I don't want anyone to beat me to that remake. I will reveal this much about the song. I think I could make that song a jazz classic once I get my hand on the notes. It's one of those songs that never gets old. This mystery song I'm talking about was performed on the late, great, Ed Sullivan show. Ain't telling no more.

    • Chris R. at CD Baby

      Mary, let us know when the cat's out of the bag!

  • Natred

    I cover Breaking the Law by Judas Priest when ever I play a show.

  • menojo

    We've just uploaded a new demo track in our original rock opera: "Bring about the end". Go check it out http://crimsonchocrus.com