Why I'm not a slow cover lover

Our writer Joseph Caddick speaks out against slow covers.....

Joseph Caddick
11th May 2022
Credit: Facebook

If I had a pound for every time I’d seen a movie trailer feature a butchered version of an iconic song, I would be a very rich man. The trend of ‘trailerising’ songs sucks the energy out of some of the most lively and atmospheric songs in order to make them fit the generic beats of a movie trailer.

I think one of the most emblematic cases of this is Lorde’s cover of Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears, which I think popularised this. What I find charming about the original is the fact that it has an upbeat vibe, but the lyrics deliberately juxtapose this. Turning it into a moody ballad removes that layer and plays it straight. I normally like Lorde’s music, but there’s just something about this one that doesn’t work for me.

Another cover I dislike, and the one that actually fuelled this rant, is the Lady Blackbird cover of Gloria Gaynor’s iconic I Am What I Am. The original is a fantastic song about self-acceptance, whereas the version used in a Virgin Airways advert lacks any of that warmth. Part of this is because the chorus is changed to be much less energetic and fun whilst also feeling needlessly louder. Thankfully, the song’s message remains intact, but delivered in a way that feels inauthentic and patronising.

Although Christmas was almost half a year ago now, there’s one cover that managed to infuriate me every single year. Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel’s cover of Baby It’s Cold Outside is more abominable than any snowman. Despite the lyrics of this song proving controversial in years, making a kid-friendly version does little to help that. It doesn’t help that the singers clearly lack chemistry, making the whole thing come across as corporate. That’s no excuse for just how boring they make it as well. Every line just sounds so flat and bland when compared to any other version that I’ve heard.

Just to clarify, I don’t think all covers are bad. Some take the basic elements of a song and take them in new directions whilst still maintaining what made them work in the first place. Look at Valerie by Amy Winehouse, which brought a new energy to the original song. Over time, it has eclipsed the original to the point where many people don’t realise that it’s a cover. I also really like the covers Phil Collins did of A Groovy Kind of Love and You Can’t Hurry Love, though that’s admittedly because I’m a huge fan of his music.

Music is a very subjective thing, and I think that a lot of what goes into deciding whether or not covers can live up to their original counterparts is equally subjective. As someone who uses music as a means of escaping the drudgery of daily life, the miserable covers remove that escapism element for me. When you strip a song of all its charm in order to make a quick profit, you really can hear it. Thankfully, new covers don’t invalidate their predecessors, you can always still listen to them if you prefer them.

Let’s just hope the trailerising of classic songs becomes a tired trend before long. It won’t.

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