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Chromatik (un)Covered: A Look into the World of Cover Songs
Last Friday, Amy Heidemann appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, having won the magazine’s “Women Who Rock” contest. Heidemann is one-half of Karmin, the duo made famous by their version of Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now.” (No, seriously – look at them). Karmin has since released original material, but they owe their original popularity to their first album, “Karmin Covers Volume 1,” comprised of… well, we won’t insult your intelligence on that one. With nearly one million votes, a group that ostensibly started as a cover band beat out five other original artists.
If that wasn’t reason enough to look a bit more closely at cover songs, consider the following:
- Sure, we’d love to attribute the popularity of shows like American Idol to their use of Chromatik… but we’re willing to admit that the singers and their song choices might play a role in drawing in viewers as well.
- Companies like LA-based Fullscreen now offer services to help Youtube artists legally cover and monetize songs.
- And I think we’ve all performed our fair share of cringe-worthy renditions of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in private karaoke booths to understand the enigmatic appeal of the cover song.
Cover songs receive plenty of attention in popular culture, but here at Chromatik, we’ve been thinking about the role they play in music education.
Cover songs often act as the impetus for learning an instrument in the first place. While beginning guitar players everywhere probably owe Jimmy Page a collective apology for their versions of “Stairway to Heaven,” a thank you might also be in order, for introducing them to a life of strings and calluses.
The best covers are often the most outlandish ones, for their entertainment value, but also because they teach breadth and introduce us to songs outside our preferred genre. When we play a cover, we learn to inhabit another artists’ impulse, and in interpreting the songs of another, we learn how to create our own.
To start this week off on the right note (and don’t worry, there are plenty more musical puns where this came from), we at Chromatik made a playlist of our favorite covers.
Now we’re asking you to join the conversation.
Like us on Facebook and tell us your cover story. What songs did you first play on your instrument? What covers did we forget to include on our playlist?