For me — and I suspect for you — a truly great song is three-to-five odd minutes of pure, unadulterated bliss. The state of euphoria you attain when listening cannot be tampered with. You would never want someone standing in front of you talking during a concert. You would never want extraneous noises, like sirens, a vacuum cleaner, or a vocal house cat interrupting your private listening experience. And heaven knows, you don't want an incompetent musician covering what should be a beautiful four-minute piece of art!
I am not trying to say that all covers are bad. This is undoubtedly untrue. There are a select few artists, well known or not, who approach covering the material of another with sincerity, and great care.
Just as there is nothing worse than a bad cover of a good song, it really is remarkable when someone makes a good cover of a great song, or even better, of a bad one. Okay, maybe not bad, but one that you didn't enjoy so much its first time through the dial. And it is amazing when someone monumental does a cover, after years of experience. Then it's a carefully thought out choice, rather than a self-glorification.
So without further pretentiousness, here they are.
10. The original artist gets no say in how their work is altered, tainted, butchered, or co-opted.
9. Most of the time, the cover is just one artist singing another, rather than a fresh take on the piece.
8. People get over dramatic trying to draw emotion from a song that they clearly already gets them emotional.
7. Once the cover gets popular, people who don't know squat about music think it's a great, new song and they can't stop talking about it.
6. You receive a sentence of one to five years every time a cover comes out. For those one to five years, (depending on its popularity,) you are subjected to hearing the overplayed cover on the radio, and to almost never, if ever, hear the original.
5. In public, the cover often becomes a cliché, over-the-top performance.
4. Free Bird, Me and Bobby McGee, Stairway to Heaven
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3. Award shows go apeshit over them. Especially when it's a young artist covering an older one.
2. Kenny G and Michael Bolton. Long instrumentals, often with soprano sax solos.
1. Need I say more?