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Sunday, May 2, 2010

80 Of The Best Contemporary Cover Songs

The term 'cover version', coined in 1966, originally described a rival version of a tune recorded to compete with the recently reeased original version, e.g. Paul Williams' 1949 hit tune "The Hucklebuck" or Hank Williams' 1952 song "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)", both crossed over to the popular Hit Parade and had numerous hit versions. Prior to the mid-20th century the notion of an original version of a popular tune would, of course, have seemed slightly odd — the production of musical entertainment being seen essentially as a live event, even if one that was reproduced at home via a copy of the sheet music, learned by heart, or captured on a shellac recording disc. Popular musicians (and especially modern listeners) have now begun to use the word "cover" to refer to any remake of a previously recorded tune.

In previous generations, some artists made very successful careers out of presenting revivals or reworkings of once popular tunes, even out of doing contemporary cover versions of current hits. Musicians now play what they call "cover versions" (e.g. the reworking, updating or interpretation) of songs as a tribute to the original performer or group. Using familiar material (e.g. evergreen hits, standard tunes or classic recordings) is an important method in learning various styles of music. Most albums, or long playing records, up until the mid-1960s usually contained a large number of evergreens or standards to present a fuller range of the artist's abilities and style. Artists might also perform interpretations ("covers") of a favorite artist's hit tunes for the simple pleasure of playing a familiar song or collection of tunes. A cover band plays such "cover versions" exclusively.

In the contemporary world, there are broadly three types of entertainers who depend upon cover versions for their principal repertoire.

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