Cover versions of popular hits are often much maligned as lesser copies of their more authentic (and therefore somehow superior) original recordings. However, while no sane person would defend the Take That cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, there are exceptions to this perceived rule. For example, the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest winning performance pails into insignificance when compared to ABBA-cadabra’s rendition of “Waterloo” witnessed by yours truly on a particularly wet Thursday night in Wakefield some time in late 1998. Similarly, almost everyone who has sung a Bob Dylan song with a comprehensive school standard issue nylon string guitar has a better than even chance of out-performing the work’s originator.
In 1939 Soloman Linda wrote and recorded a song utilising a traditional call and response structure called “Mbube”. Though it was a pretty big hit in South Africa, it wasn’t until Pete Seeger made a complete dog’s breakfast of the pronunciation of the underlying chant and re-recorded it under the name “Wimoweh” that we had the solid gold pop classic that is “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, a mere six iterations later. So, were cover versions really inferior to original recordings, we wouldn’t have Timon and Pumbaa – just ponder that for a second and let it sink in.
This week we consider all manner of covers, re-imaginings and free-style interpretations of otherwise perfectly decent pieces of original music to finally judge whether the loss of authenticity is a price worth paying for a bit of Disney Magic.
This week’s Playlists:
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