Music & More Music

October 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jennifer Chang @ 4:13 pm

Are cover songs, “covers” or are they “hijacked”.

In Michael Coyle’s article, Hijacked Hits and Antic Authenticity:  Cover Songs, Race, and Postwar Marketing, he explains (extensively) about the difference of “covers” and “hijacked” songs and also, where the idea came from.  This article is interesting because Coyle plays devil’s advocate when it comes to a cover song being either stolen or borrowed, whether if its the recording company’s way to earn more profit or whether it’s the artist to make a song “better,” and when and how covering/hijacking really happened.  So, here is the argument, are cover’s just a way to make another version of an original song or is it considered stealing? Is it a compliment when someone else uses another person’s work or is it wrong?  Is the music industry and the new generation of musicians and music artist trying to replace the OLD with the NEW?

Unfortunately, it’s a little bit of everything.  Certain covers that are hijacked are for own personal reasons, where the artist is trying to make a “better version” and the music industry to earn more profit from its sheet music.  Coyle’s article mentions that there were high sheet music sales in the 1930s before the Copyright Laws were established in the 1950s.  The main idea of these high sales even when individual companies were in competition, were to win the highest consumer interest.  Elvis Presley was known to cover songs

I am guilty of listening to covers and actually falling in love with the newer versions, maybe not all the time but I still do.  Here are some examples that are hard NOT to love.  (Sorry, posted my newly favorite songs of the week)

Boyce Avenue- Teenage Dream- Original from Katy Perry

Boyce Avenue: Teenage Dream

The Saturdays- Beggin’

The Saturdays- Beggin\’

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  1. “Covers” Can Be a good or bad thing. I personally love to listen original songs. But there are some good “covers” of song and in this present music Industry thats what it is all about they just do a remake of the song to make a quick buck just adding a little modern technology to the style.I also to like the saturdays ‘cover ‘of Beggin it was good.In the end they are all helping each other out as artists to make record sales. It is no loneger about black or white, it’s everyone.

      Yendie — October 28, 2010 @ 12:07 am

  2. I don’t think you should feel guilty for liking cover songs as not all cover songs are deemed as hijacks nor hold the intentions of a hijack. I think covers definitely bring something new to the table as it does evolve and molds itself into the new singers style. One positive thing about covers is that once people find out it is a cover, or know that it is one, they go listen to the original. Or vice versa, they go listen to the covers of an original just to compare. It also boosts publicity!

      wonder — October 28, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

  3. I agree with you that covers are alittle of both, but I think they’re relivant for different time periods. I don’t think in the present music industry any cover song is actually considered stealing because of copyright laws. But as we read in the article, back in the day anybody could sing anybody’s song and advertize it as there own. I definitely can relate to you admitting you like some cover songs better, I feel the same way. And even covers I’m not crazy about I still always like to hear an artist make a song their own with a different variation from the origianl. It’s especially exciting to hear when the songs are performed through different genres.

      nicole — October 28, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

  4. Yeah I agree that it can become a little complex when trying to decide whether or not covers are legit or not. I think it depends, as there isn’t really a fine line to determine it, which is interesting. Some people could say that covers are a tribute to the artist while others can disagree and say that covers are a copy of the original per say. But regardless some covers I heard were really good and some not so great. I guess it depends on opinion.

      joanc — October 29, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

  5. I believe cover songs were done for the wrong reason. When an artist covered a song they already knew that the song was rising on the R&B billboards. You wouldn’t see a cover song of a bad record. So I believe in those days cover records were about just making money off of songs that are doing good. African American artist exposure was not as great as Whites in the music industry at that time. So if you had a hit song that you created and someone else did a cover song to it, and made a lot more money off of it. Would you be okay with it? or see it as a problem? The laws now state that if you want to make a remake of an artist song you need permission and I agree with this law.

      williamdabney — October 30, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  6. It’s funny that you are talking about artists stealing cover songs. I believe that artists use covers as a tribute to a legend in the business who passed away such as a Michael Jackson. I remember when Michael Jackson died. Everybody was fighting over getting the original artwork that came with thriller because it had all the lyrics that Michael wrote on the back. Every single song was written on the back cover. The original was selling for 150.00 on ebay at the time. So Sony records purchased the Michael Jackson 6 disc box set that had every single song michael jackson ever came out with and music videos. The problem was Michael Jackson wrote the songs to thriller and owned the lyrics still. Sony did not care though. They stole the lyrics on the back of thriller and put it right inside the first cover of the first disc. They never bought the rights for that cover sheet of music. So again I believe its all about the money. They see people are buying the cds for the original artwork so they place it in there so people purchase the box set. I believe it is stealing but you have to prove it in court and we all know that could take years. It’s wrong and needs to be stopped.

      robert shemanski — November 11, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

  7. I believe that this concept of covering is more like borrowing. As someone mentioned before, when a person falls in love with cover songs, they tend to refer back to the original artist. This example is clearly seen in the emergence of Glee. I remember watching an episode of Glee where a Journey song was being covered. Next thing I knew, that same Journey song became a hit on iTunes the next day. I can admit that I love some covered song too but I believe that they push people to research other artists who they may never have heard of before.

      plcest89 — December 12, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

  8. I believe “covering” a song is paying homage to the artist’s work. However, this can go either really bad or really good. Personally, I listen to a lot of cover songs and sometimes i don’t even know its a cover song until i hear the original song on TV or radio. I then realized that the original sounds way better. There are also songs that sound very similar and the cover artist claims it is an original song, and not a cover… “ice ice baby”. If an artist is going to cover a song, they should play around with it, make it sound more unique and different than the original.

      dbanegas100 — March 1, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

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