In popular music, a cover version, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording of a previously recorded, commercially released song or popular song. It can sometimes have a pejorative meaning implying that the original recording should be regarded as the definitive or "authentic" version, and all others merely lesser competitors, alternatives or tributes (no matter how popular). However, Billboard and other magazines recording the popularity of the musical artists and hit tunes originally measured the sales success of the published tune, not just recordings of it or, later, the airplay that it achieved, in which case the greater the number of cover versions the more successful the song. Contemporary versions of older tunes such as "Who's Sorry Now?", "Blue Moon", "Twist and Shout" and "Not Fade Away" have been often used to position well-known music between less familiar "originals".
The term 'cover version', coined in 1966, originally described a rival version of a tune recorded to compete with the recently released 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:
Tribute acts or bands are performers who make a living by recreating the music of one particular artist. Bands such as Björn Again, Dread Zeppelin, The Fab Faux and The Australian Pink Floyd Show are dedicated to playing the music of ABBA, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Pink Floyd respectively. There are also "tribute acts" that salute the Who, the Rolling Stones and many other classic rock acts. Most tribute bands are content to perform copycat versions of the original repertoire. Some tribute bands introduce a twist. Dread Zeppelin's reggae takes on the Zeppelin catalog, and Beatallica creates heavy metal fusions of songs by the Beatles and Metallica.
Cover acts or bands are entertainers who perform a broad variety of crowd-pleasing material for audiences who enjoy the familiarity of hit songs. Such bands draw from Top 40 hits of different decades to provide a pleasurable nostalgic entertainment in bars, on cruise ships and at events such as weddings, family celebrations and corporate functions.
Revivalist artists or bands are performers who are inspired by an entire genre of music and who are dedicated to curating and recreating that genre and introducing it to younger audiences who have not experienced that music first hand. Unlike tribute bands and cover bands who rely primarily on audiences seeking a nostalgic experience, revivalist bands usually seek new young audiences for whom the music is fresh and has no nostalgic value. For example: Sha Na Na started in 1969 as a celebration of the doo-wop music of the 1950s, a genre of music that was not initially fashionable during the hippie counter-culture era. The Blues Brothers started in 1978 as a living salute to the blues, soul and R&B music of the 1950s and 1960s that was not in vogue by the late 70s. The Blues Brothers' creed was that they were "on a mission from God" as evangelists for blues and soul music. The Black Crowes formed in 1984, initially dedicated to reviving 1970s style blues-rock. They subsequently started writing their own material in the same vein.
Since the Copyright Act of 1909, in the United States there has been a right to record a version of someone else's tune, whether of music alone or of music and lyrics. A license can be specifically negotiated between representatives of the interpreting artist and the copyright holder, or recording of published tunes can fall under a mechanical license whereby the recording artist pays a standard royalty to the original author/copyright holder through an organization such as the Harry Fox Agency, and is safe under copyright law even if they do not have any permission from the original author. The mechanical license was introduced by Congress in order to head off an attempt by the Aeolian Company to monopolize the piano roll market.
While a composer cannot deny anyone a mechanical license for a new recorded version, he or she has the right to decide who will release the first recording of a song; Bob Dylan took advantage of this right when he refused his own record company the right to release a live recording of "Mr. Tambourine Man".
From early in the 20th century it was common practice among phonograph record labels, if any company had a record that was a significant commercial success, that other record companies would have singers or musicians "cover" the "hit" tune by recording a version for their own label in hopes of cashing in on the tune's success. For example, Ain't She Sweet, was first popularized in 1927 by Eddie Cantor (on stage) and by Ben Bernie and Gene Austin (on record), was repopularized through popular recordings by Mr. Goon Bones & Mr. Ford and Pearl Bailey in 1949, and later still revived as 33 1/3 and 45 RPM records by the Beatles in 1964. Since there was little promotion or advertising involved in the earlier days of record production, other than at the local music hall or music store, when the average record buyer went out to purchase a new record, he usually asked for the tune, not the artist. In addition, distribution of records was highly localized in many cases. So, a quickly-recorded version of a hit song from another area by a locally popular artist could reach an audience before the version by the artist(s) who first introduced the tune in a particular format—the "original", "introductory" or "popularizing" artist—was widely available, and the highly competitive record companies were quick to take advantage of these facts.
This began to change in the later 1930s, when the average age of the now greatly increased record-buying public began to expand to include a younger age group. During the Swing era, when a bobby soxer went looking for a recorded tune, say "In the Mood", typically she wanted the version popularized by her favourite artist(s), e.g. the Glenn Miller version (on RCA Victor's cheaper Bluebird label), not someone else's (sometimes presented on a more expensive record company's label). This trend was marked closely by the charting of record sales by the different artists, not just hit tunes, on the music industry's Hit Parades. However, for sound commercial reasons, record companies still continued to record different versions of tunes that sold well. Most audiences until the mid-1950s still heard their favorite artists playing live music on stage or via the radio. And since radio shows were for the most part aimed at local audiences, it was still rare for an artist in one area to reach a mass audience. Also radio stations tended to cater to broad audience markets, so an artist in one vein might not get broadcast on other stations geared to a set audience. So popular versions of Jazz, Country and Western or Rhythm and Blues tunes, and vice versa, were frequent. Consider Mack the Knife (Die Moritat vom Mackie Messer): this was originally from Bertholt Brecht's 1928 Die Dreigroschenoper. It was popularised by a 1956 record Hit Parade instrumental tune, Moritat, for the Dick Hyman Trio, also recorded by Richard Hayman & Jan August, but a hit also for Louis Armstrong 1956/1959, Bobby Darin, 1959, and Ella Fitzgerald, 1960, as vocal versions of Mack The Knife.
Europe's Radio Luxembourg, like many commercial stations, also sold "air time"; so record companies and others bought air time to promote their own artists or products, thus increasing the number of recorded versions of any tune then available. Add to this the fact that many radio stations were limited in their permitted "needle time" (the amount of recorded music they were allowed to play), or were regulated on the amount of local talent they had to promote in live broadcasts, as with most national stations like the BBC in the UK.
Even to this day, authors and publishers are paid royalty by broadcasters and artists are not; there is still an incentive to record numerous versions of a song, particularly in different genres. For example, King Records frequently cut both rhythm and blues and country and western versions of novelty songs like "Good Morning, Judge" and "Don't Roll those Bloodshot Eyes at Me". This tradition was expanded when rhythm and blues songs began showing up on pop music charts.
In the early days of rock and roll, many tunes originally recorded by R&B and Country musicians were still being re-recorded in a more popular vein by other artists with a more toned-down style or professional polish. Given the reluctance of radio stations to play formats outside their own target audience group's taste, this was inevitable. By far the most popular style of music in the mid-1950s / mid-1960s was still the professional light orchestral unit, so that was the format sought by popular recording artists. For many purists these popular versions lacked both the raw, often amateurish, earthiness of the original introducing artists. But mostly they did not have the added kudos craved by many rebellious teenagers, the social stigma - or street credibility - of rock and roll music; as most of these were performed by the type of black artists not heard on the popular mass entertainment markets, some having also been written by them. The bowdlerized popular cover versions were considered by most audiences at the time to be more palatable for the mass audience of both parents and children as a group audience. Therefore the artists targeting the white-majority family audience were more acceptable to programmers at most radio and TV stations. For this reason singer-songwriter Don McLean has called the cover version a "racist tool." Many parents in the 1950s - 60s, whether intentionally racists or not, felt deeply threatened by the rapid pace of social change. After all they had for the most part shared entertainments with their parents in ways that their own children had become reluctant to do. The jukebox and the personal record disc player were still relatively expensive pieces of machinery - and the portable radio a great novelty, allowing truculent teenagers to shut themselves off. Tunes by introducing or "original" niche market artists which were then successful on the mass audience Hit Parade charts are called crossovers as they "crossed over" from the targeted Country, Jazz or Rhythm audience. Also, many songs originally recorded by male artists were rerecorded by female artists, and vice versa. Such a cover version is also sometimes called a cross cover version. Incidentally, up to the mid-1930s male vocalists often sang the female lyrics to popular songs, though this faded rapidly after it was deemed decadent in Nazi Germany.
Reworking non-English language tunes and lyrics for the Anglo-Saxon markets was once a popular part of the music business. For example, the 1954 worldwide hit The Happy Wanderer was originally Der fröhliche Wanderer, to this must be added Hymne a l`amour, Mutterlein, Volare, Seeman, "Quando, Quando, Quando", L'amour est bleu, etc.
Cover versions of many popular songs have been recorded, sometimes with a radically different style, sometimes virtually indistinguishable from the original. For example, José Feliciano's version of "Light My Fire" (recorded after the original had disappeared from sales charts) was distinct from The Doors' version, but Carl Carlton's 1974 cover (seven years after the fact) of Robert Knight's 1967 hit single "Everlasting Love" sounded almost identical to the original. Artists such as Amanda Palmer, Manic Street Preachers, OneRepublic, Lillasyster, Scott Simons, Marié Digby, Mandy Moore, Tegan and Sara, Vanilla Sky, Biffy Clyro, My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park, All Time Low, McFly, Plain White T's, Taylor Swift, Jamie Cullum and others have covered it in different styles. One good example is the band Megadeth, which has made metal covers of various tunes such as Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots", Willie Dixon's "I Ain't Superstitious", the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K.", Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy", and others. In the last few years popular cover song blogs like Cover Me  have cropped up regularly showcasing modern and classic cover songs.
A song may be covered into another language. For example, in the 1930s, a recording of Isle of Capri in Spanish, by Osvaldo Fresedo and singer Roberto Ray, is known. Falco's 1982 German-language hit "Der Kommissar" was covered in English by After the Fire, although the German title was retained. The English version, which was not a direct translation of Falco's original but retained much of its spirit, reached the Top 5 on the US charts. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" evolved over several decades and versions from a 1939 Zulu a cappella song. Many of singer Laura Branigan's 1980s hits were English-language remakes of songs already successful in Europe, for the American record market. Numerable English-language covers exist of "99 Luftballons" by German singer Nena (notably one by punk band Goldfinger), one having been recorded by Nena herself following the success of her original German version. "Popcorn", a song which was originally completely instrumental, has had lyrics added in at least six different languages in various covers. During the heyday of Cantopop in Hong Kong in the late 1970s to early 1990s, many hits were covers of English and Japanese titles that have gained international fame but with localised lyrics (sometimes multiple sets of lyrics sung to the same tune), and critics often chide the music industry of shorting the tune-composing process.
Although modern cover versions are often produced for artistic reasons, some aspects of the disingenuous spirit of early cover versions remain. In the album-buying heyday of the 1970s, albums of sound-alike covers were created, commonly released to fill bargain bins in the music section of supermarkets and even specialized music stores, where uninformed customers might easily confuse them with original recordings. The packaging of such discs was often intentionally confusing, combining the name of the original artist in large letters with a tiny disclaimer like as originally sung by or as made popular by. More recently, albums such as the Kidz Bop series of compact discs, featuring versions of contemporary songs sung by children, have sold successfully.
Organized crime, or unscrupulous labels, have been known to release original recordings in other markets, without payment of royalties to the writers or artists; these unauthorized releases could not be properly termed "cover" recordings.
Cover versions (as the term is now used) are often contemporary versions of familiar songs. For example "Singin' in the Rain" was originally introduced in the film The Hollywood Revue of 1929. The famous Gene Kelly version was a revision that brought it up to date for a 1950s Hollywood musical, and was used in the 1952 film Singin' in the Rain. In 1978, it was covered by French singer Sheila accompanied by the B. Devotion group, as a disco song, once more updating it to suit the musical taste of the era. During the disco era there was a brief trend of taking well known songs and recording them in the disco style. More recently "Singin' In the Rain" has been covered and remixed by British act Mint Royale for a television commercial for Volkswagen. Another example of this, from a different angle, is the tune "Blueberry Hill", many mistakenly believe the Fats Domino 1956 release to be the original recording and artist. In fact, it was originally introduced on film by Gene Autry and popularised on the record Hit Parade of 1940 by Glenn Miller. The Fats Domino rock and roll version is the only one that might currently get widespread airplay on most media - due, no doubt, to the still prevailing prejudice against non-beat music artists or styles. Similarly, "Unchained Melody" was originally performed by Todd Duncan, featured in the 1955 film Unchained (based on the non-fiction story: Prisoners are People by Kenyon J. Scudder); Al Hibbler having the biggest number of worldwide record sales for the vocal version with Jimmy Young's cover version rival outdoing this in the UK, Les Baxter's Orchestra gaining the big instrumentalist sales, reaching the US Hit Parade number one spot in May 1955, but The Righteous Brothers' later version (top five on the US Hit Parade of September 1965 stalling at number 14 in the UK in August) is by far better known since the 1990 film Ghost.
Director Baz Luhrmann has contemporised and stylised older songs for use in his films. New or cover versions such as John Paul Young's "Love Is in the Air" occur in Strictly Ballroom, Candi Staton's "Young Hearts Run Free" appear in Romeo + Juliet, and adaptations of artists such as Nat King Cole, Nirvana, Kiss, Elton John, Thelma Houston, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, T. Rex, David Bowie, Queen and The Police are used in Moulin Rouge! The covers are carefully designed to fit into the structure of each film and suit the taste of the intended audience.
New artists are often introduced to the record buying public with performances of well known, "safe" songs as evidenced in Pop Idol and its counterparts in other countries. It is also a means by which the public can more easily concentrate upon the new performer without the need to judge the quality of the songwriting skills.
However, some new artists have chosen to radically rework a popular song to exemplify their approach and philosophy to music. Prime examples include Joe Cocker's soul reworking of The Beatles' originally-jaunty "With a Little Help from My Friends", the band Devo's radical reconstruction of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", or Marilyn Manson's version of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)". Many musicians have other goals, such as to create publicity as in Sid Vicious' notorious version of "My Way", or to personalize a song, such as Johnny Cash reworking Nine Inch Nails's "Hurt" to a devastating acoustic version that reflected upon his ill state (Cash died less than a year after the release of the album on which the song appears).
Established artists often pay homage to artists or songs that inspired them before they started their careers or musicians who in some way helped them enter show business by recording their own versions of tunes associated with that artist (See, for example, I Remember Tommy) or performing tunes associated with their favourite influential musician(s) in their own live performances for variety. For example U2 has performed ABBA's "Dancing Queen" live, and Kylie Minogue has performed The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" - songs that would be completely out of character for them to record, but which allow them artistic freedom when performing live. These performances are often released as part of authorised "live recordings".
Since the late twentieth century, unrelated contemporary artists have contributed individual reworkings of tunes to tribute albums for well established artists who are considered to be influential and inspiring. This trend was spawned by Hal Willner's Amarcord Nino Rota in 1981. Typically, each project has resulted in a collection of the particular artist's best recognised or most highly regarded songs reworked by more current performers. Among the artists to receive this form of recognition are Madonna, AC/DC, Joy Division, Guns N' Roses, New Order, Rush, Faith No More, Tom Waits, Oingo Boingo, The Bee Gees, ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, Cher, Shania Twain, Linkin Park, Kate Bush, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Rammstein, The Carpenters, Dolly Parton, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Leonard Cohen, U2, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Duran Duran, Carole King, The Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zeppelin, Sick of It All, Metallica, the Ramones, Queen, The Misfits, Sublime, Velvet Revolver, Weezer, Daniel Johnston, the Finn brothers, Bruce Cockburn, Donovan, Harry Chapin, Gordon Lightfoot, and Björk. At least five tribute albums to Gary Numan have been released.
The soundtracks to the films I Am Sam and Across the Universe are examples of this: they consisted of Beatles songs redone by various contemporary artists. Some more notable examples are Conception: The Interpretation of Stevie Wonder Songs; Common Thread an album of contemporary country artists performing hit singles by The Eagles; the Rhythm, Country and Blues album where a country artist duets with a Rhythm and blues artist on a standard of either genre. Two notable tribute albums to the Grateful Dead are Wake the Dead, with Celtic-style covers, and Might As Well, by The Persuasions.
In some cases this proves to be popular enough to spawn a series of cover albums being released for a band, either under a consistent branding such as the two Black Sabbath Nativity in Black cover albums and the Industrial themed "Blackest Album" cover albums of Metallica songs, or in the form of releases from a number of different companies cashing in on the trend such as the many Metallica cover albums released in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Metallica itself is known for doing covers; their original album, Kill 'Em All, included a couple of covers (Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?" and Blitzkrieg's "Blitzkrieg"), the original The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited was a collection of covers paying homage to a number of mostly obscure bands, which were later combined with additional new covers on the double album Garage Inc., which among other things included covers of Black Sabbath ("Sabbra Cadabra"), Bob Seger ("Turn the Page"), Blue Öyster Cult ("Astronomy"), Mercyful Fate (a medley of different songs of the band), and numerous Motörhead tracks. In an interesting turn around there were even a couple of releases of The Metallic-era CDs collecting tracks from bands that Metallica had covered, both the original versions of the covered songs, and some additional songs by the same artist.
A different type of all-covers album occurs when one artist creates a release of covers of songs originally by many other artists, as a way to recognize their influences or simply as a change of pace or direction. An early example of this was David Bowie's album "Pin Ups", featuring songs from groups with which he had shared venues in the 1960s. Since these bands included The Who and The Kinks many of the tracks would have been at least familiar to his audience. Other more recent examples of this type of album include Renegades by Rage Against the Machine featuring covers of songs originally performed by diverse artists including Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Afrikaa Bambaataa, and Erik B and Rakim, as well as the EP Feedback by Canadian rock band Rush. Tori Amos' album Strange Little Girls features covers of songs originally performed by male artists sung from the perspective of thirteen female characters she created (including a rather unexpected version of Slayer's "Raining Blood"). Awaken's double album Party in Lyceum's Toilets has a whole CD dedicated to covers of various artists. Manfred Mann did albums with more covers than original songs, following the mould of Vanilla Fudge. More rarely, bands will do an entire album of cover songs originally by a particular artist, such as The The's Hanky Panky, which consists entirely of Hank Williams songs, or Booker T. & the M.G.'s' album McLemore Avenue which was a cover of The Beatles' Abbey Road, or Russ Pay's tribute to Manchester legends Joy Division.
There are also bands who create entire albums out of covers, but unlike Tin Pan Alley-style traditional pop singers, they often perform the songs in a genre completely unlike the original songs. Examples include The Moog Cookbook (alternative and classic rock songs done on Moog synthesizers), Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine (top 40, including punk, heavy metal, teen pop and indie rock performed in a Vegas lounge lizard style), and Hayseed Dixie (a play on the name AC/DC, they started covering AC/DC songs and progressed to other classic rock, playing them as bluegrass songs, similar to The Gourds' version of "Gin and Juice.") Also notable are Dread Zeppelin, who take Led Zeppelin songs and cover them in a reggae fashion with the added twist of an Elvis Presley impersonation on the lead vocal; Nine Inch Elvis, who take Elvis Presley songs and rework them in an industrial fashion similar to Nine Inch Nails; and Beatallica, who "mix up" songs from The Beatles and Metallica, into metallica-sounding songs with humorous lyrics referring to both bands' works.
In that same category, the Blues Brothers have made only covers in their 3 most famous albums, Briefcase Full of Blues, Made in America and the motion picture soundtrack The Blues Brothers. They covered blues, R&B, soul, country and rock'n'roll songs, but with their own particular, fresh and raw style of interpretation, a successful blend of the Memphis Stax sound provided by MGs band members Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn, and the New York City sound from the horn section (Alan Rubin and Lou Marini, for example). The outcome sometimes gave a new life to songs. Some became even more popular after the Blues Brothers had played them, than before. The best example is "Soul Man", more remembered as a hit by The Blues Brothers rather than by the original singers, Sam & Dave. The same can be said of She Caught the Katy (originally created by Taj Mahal) and Jailhouse Rock (sung by Elvis Presley) or Sweet Home Chicago (Robert Johnson), acknowledging the fact that covers can become even more famous than original performances.
Recent years have seen well-established artists (especially those mostly active in the 1980s) release cover albums, such as Poison (Poison'd!), Tesla (Real to Reel), Queensrÿche (Take Cover), and Def Leppard (Yeah!), revealing a wide range of musical influences.
Some cover albums take the unusual tack of doing classical versions of rock and metal songs. The unusual band Apocalyptica which comprises four classical cellists started out performing classical arrangements of Metallica songs. In a similar vein, there have also been many string quartet tributes to popular rock and metal bands, most notably Tool, Black Sabbath, Breaking Benjamin, New Order/Joy Division, the Cure, Muse, the Beatles, and even Slayer among others.
One more type of cover album is when a cover of the entire album is done, rather than a collection of songs. A notable band to earn acclaim this way are the Easy Star All-Stars, who covered The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd in their album Dub Side of the Moon and OK Computer by Radiohead in their album Radiodread. Both albums were radical departures from the original albums, being redone in reggae/dub. Another album which radically remade an original album in a new genre is the 2001 Rebuild the Wall, in which Luther Wright and the Wrongs covered the entire double-album The Wall by Pink Floyd as a country/bluegrass piece.
Many up and coming bands in the metal genre cover songs by their predecessors to gain public interest, although more established bands have also recorded covers. HammerFall, Metallica, Napalm Death, Entombed, Iced Earth, Between the Buried and Me, Overkill, and Slayer have released entire albums of covers, for example. In specific subgenres of metal, covers generally reflect the genre the band is in. The Norwegian black metal band Mayhem have recorded several Venom covers, while Mayhem themselves have been covered many times, their song Deathcrush has been covered around 140 times, according to Encyclopaedia Metallum.
Another approach taken by several metal bands, including Children of Bodom, is to cover songs generally not listened to by metal fans, such as pop, punk, or classic rock songs. Children of Bodom's cover of Britney Spears' "Oops I Did It Again" was originally recorded as an in-joke amongst the band members but ended up being released as a bonus track on one of their EPs, as well as Andrew W.K.'s "She is Beautiful." Blind Guardian has covered surf-rock hit "Surfin' Usa" as well as 50's hit "Mr. Sandman" and oldies rock and roll staples "Barbara Ann" and "Long Tall Sally". Yngwie J. Malmsteen covered ABBA's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" renamed "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Love After Midnight)" the song features the same lyrics, with minor edits, and the same music with a more powerful metal feel.
In recent years, artists have begun covering hip hop songs, most frequently in concert and typically in a style radically different to the originals. Ben Folds, Tori Amos, Nina Gordon, KT Tunstall, Jonathan Coulton, Luka Bloom, Ben Kweller, Dynamite Hack, Keller Williams, The Gourds and Alanis Morissette have all recorded covers of hip-hop songs.
The band Mindless Self Indulgence recorded a cover of the song "Bring the Pain" by Method Man in which they completely change the entire rhythm and sound of the song. The only part of the original song retained in their cover is the lyrics.
A type of cover version that existed from the early 1950s to the late 1970s in Louisiana was known as swamp pop. Contemporary and classic rock, R&B, and country songs were re-recorded with Cajun audiences in mind. Some lyrics were translated to French, and some were recorded with traditional Cajun instrumentation. Several swamp pop songs charted nationally, but it was mostly a regional niche market.
The Taliesin Orchestra specializes in remaking famous songs into orchestra-style melodies. Their debut album, Orinoco Flow: The Music of Enya, was a collection of songs originally created and sung by Enya.
Independent artists sometimes create covers for songs done by other independent artists. Petra Haden has done several song covers, most notably, the song Yellow by Coldplay. Youth Group recorded a cover of the Alphaville song, Forever Young. Singer-songwriter Chan Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power) is known for covering other musicians' songs in her own, unique style. Canadian indie artist Feist covered Inside and Out (originally by The Bee Gees) for her album, Let It Die. Archangel have recently done a cover version of Do It Again by Steely Dan, and have released it as a single.
Hundreds of songs have been covered by punk/pop punk bands, including the bands Rancid, Sex Pistols, and hundreds of others. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes is a punk band that only does cover songs. BYO Records has also BYO Split Series with bands such as NOFX, Anti-Flag, Rancid, Alkaline Trio, and the Bouncing Souls.
Since 2000, Fearless Records has released a series of cds in which various rock bands perform covers of songs from other genres or time-periods. The deviations from this theme are Punk Goes Acoustic and Punk Goes Acoustic 2 in which the featured bands recorded acoustic versions of their own songs.
A cover version (or simply "cover") is a song which is re-recorded by a singer or band, after another artist has released a recording of it. Sometimes the versions are similar, but sometimes they are very different.
Many songs become more popular as cover versions than in their original recordings. Paul Revere and the Raiders recorded two songs, "Louie, Louie" and "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone", that were bigger hits for other bands (The Kingsmen and The Monkees, respectively) than their versions.
A few songs are covered so many times by different artists, that the songs become standards. "Without You" (written by Peter Ham and Tom Evans of the band Badfinger) was first covered by Harry Nilsson, then later by dozens of other singers, including Mariah Carey. "Yesterday" and "Something", written by Paul McCartney and George Harrison of The Beatles (respectively), are also standards.