In Prince’s recent Lopez Tonight appearance, he once again attacked one of his favorite targets: cover songs. “I don’t mind fans singing the songs, my problem is when the industry covers the music,” Prince told George Lopez. “You see, covering the music means your version doesn’t exist anymore. There’s this thing called the compulsory license law which allows artists to take your music at will. That doesn’t exist in any other art form – there’s only one version of Law & Order, but there are several versions of ‘Kiss’ and ‘Purple Rain.'”
He makes a reasonable point about licensing laws, but takes it too far when he says there should be only one version of each song. From a man who’s given his songs to other people to record and even produced others covering his songs, profiting off both, this seems a somewhat irregular claim. Plus, the “don’t mind fans singing the songs” sentiment feels all warm and cozy, but it doesn’t match reality. He – or at least his label NPG Records – pulls fan covers off YouTube more than any other artist we’ve seen. I’ve heard from several bloggers who refuse to post Prince covers at all, no matter the source, for fear of his overzealous legal team.
Still, his current claim targets industry covers, so that’s where we’ll focus our counter-argument. Below we present ten great examples to prove Prince wrong. He doesn’t clarify what he means by “industry,” so we’re taking it to mean a famous artist on a major label. According to Prince, these ten covers should never have existed. We think you’ll disagree when you hear them.
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Alphabet St. (Prince cover)
Foo Fighters – Darling Nikki (Prince cover)
Corinne Bailey Rae – I Wanna Be Your Lover (Prince cover)
Tom Jones – Kiss (Prince cover)
Tina Turner – Let’s Pretend We’re Married (Prince cover)
Tori Amos – Purple Rain (Prince cover)
Warren Zevon – Raspberry Beret (Prince cover)
Gary Numan – U Got the Look (Prince cover)
Patti Smith – When Doves Cry (Prince cover)
Mitch Ryder – When You Were Mine (Prince cover)