THE OBSESSION WITH COVER SONGS…

In the past I’ve sung a lot of other peoples songs. As much as I love singing and putting my own spin on another artists music, I prefer not to do it as much anymore. This is why…

(Not because of this picture, this is just purely for comedic value)

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Ask anyone who can sing to remember how times they have been told that they should go on Xfactor. If they can at least hold a tune, they probably would have lost count by now. After doing gigs for a number of years, I can honestly say that I have heard that sentence thousands of times. It’s a compliment, don’t get me wrong, and I’m always polite and say thank you, but there’s more to it than that, it has become a way of thinking. It is now generally believed by the majority that if you want to make it in the music industry, the best way to go about it is to enter a competition like the Xfactor or The Voice. The trick of these competitions is that they are most definitely not about discovering potential talent, but rather discovering potential sources of revenue for the people behind the shows. They are essentially popularity competitions where the competitors, over a period of weeks and months, gain a bigger and bigger potential fan base, ready to buy anything and everything that they release after the show has finished. Now…

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All throughout the shows and audition processes, we hear people singing covers, very rarely original songs. That’s all well and good, and I do think it’s important for an ‘artist’ to have the ability to adapt somebody elses work into something unique sounding, that is still a talent after all. But there’s no getting away from the fact that it is imitating, just (sometimes) in a slightly different style. The true talent is the creation of the music/song in the first place. I won’t make this about Xfactor or The Voice because that’s a juggernaut that WAY bigger fish than myself have never been able to stop rolling, plus, many artists make good money from the royalties of their songs being performed and broadcast on these shows.

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So after 10 years of these competitions, now it seems all people want to hear are covers. After all, why spend time trying to find things we like when we already know what we like, and there’s a new version of that at our disposal. YouTube is jam packed with covers, and yes I know… I’ve done them in the past too, but I’ve also realised the sad fact that original music largely goes un-noticed because of the demand for cover songs and videos. It doesn’t come down to the quality of the original music by the artists necessarily either, it is down to the mindset of the majority wanting to hear something they know, and something they feel comfortable to be able to judge. I’m not sure if we feel uncomfortable judging the quality of something that we’ve never heard before, or just enjoy the comfort of something familiar. Maybe it’s safety in conformity, or just that we’re happy to sit back and believe that we are the ones deciding what we want to listen to. Either way, it is the reason I feel so strongly about not doing covers anywhere near as often anymore. I don’t want to contribute to, and encourage the current disregard for the talents of creative artists. I would never enter one of the popularity cover song competitions because very few of the people who come out of those machines ever get any creative input into the music that is released under their name, which is supposed to represent them as a person and an artist, not a product.

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I spend hours mulling over one line when I’m writing. In that time I could record a handful of Youtube cover videos, and no doubt they would get way more hits than my original music. But I take that time and care because I love what I do. Without the freedom of expression in music nothing new would ever be created. I’m not trying to change the world or anything, and no doubt very few people will ever read this, but being aware of the reasons why pretty much every human being on the planet is a lover of music of some kind is an important thing. Music is distinctly human, so the creation of music is just about as human as you can get. It’s just a shame that creation isn’t celebrated anywhere near as much as imitation.

On a lighter note, here is a picture of a Koala bear.

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One thought on “THE OBSESSION WITH COVER SONGS…

  1. Reblogged this on SWCharity and commented:
    We love Ryan John at The Songwriting Charity. We follow him on Twitter and you should too – @RyanJohnMusic. Ryan has very kindly given us permission to reblog his latest post, something we ask you all to read when you have a moment. Ryan is a real talent; a terrific singer and an artist with a real gift and one to watch. He’s also a grafter and makes a very valid point about how television talent shows are now deeply embedded parts of our consumer psyche and way of thinking. We won’t spoil it except to say read for yourselves, then go and listen to Ryan’s music and enjoy. Perhaps when you listen to his work, you’ll have a better appreciation for his artistry and that of the countless other artists out there working exceptionally hard to make it in a massively competitive industry, one that appears to be full of short cuts……….

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