Jul 162019
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

Pat Boone

Reasons abound for maligning Pat Boone’s career in popular music. The catalyst for his career was a string of covers of R&B tunes by black artists for whom the legacy of segregation never afforded the same amount of wealth. White artists made substantially more than their counterpart artists of color. Major record labels had larger distribution chains, promotional budgets, and stronger connections to radio and television networks to advantage their artists. By contrast, black musicians on “race records” benefited from none of these privileges. While artists like Little Richard, Big Joe Turner, and Fats Domino have enjoyed staying power and wide acclaim for being architects of rock music, in the early decades of that genre, white covers were commercially more successful. Added to this was the exploitative nature of covers on larger labels that made more money than the originals while paying out no royalties to the black originators. Boone was unapologetic that his career benefited from this exploitation.

It is also noteworthy that Boone’s performance and lyricism of some of rock’s first generation of are a case study in the sanitized tastes of the burgeoning white middle class in the 1950s. His smooth vocal delivery was reminiscent of crooners rather than the raspy, full-throated yowl of Little Richard. And the lyrical changes on “Tutti Frutti” were a nod to teenage infatuation stripped of any of the sexuality in Little Richard’s original.

Despite Boone representing the residuals of white privilege while Jim Crow reigned supreme, there is a note of appreciation to be made for Boone and contemporaries Elvis Presley and Bill Haley in helping to extend the reach of rock music to new audiences at a critical juncture in that genre’s history.
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Apr 162019
 
marissa nadler estranged

The video for Guns N’ Roses’ “Estranged” is often described as one of the most bloated of all time. Commonly cited in these critiques is the massive scene where Axl Rose jumps off an oil tanker and swims with the dolphins, like James Bond meets Flipper. “With a staggering $4,000,000 price tag and near ten-minute runtime, “Estranged” is an extravagant and thrillingly misguided monument to Axl Rose’s own persecution complex,” wrote Noisey. Continue reading »

Jul 112018
 
guns roses heartbreak hotel

In the ‘50s when Elvis Presley shook his pelvis and sang his rowdy brand of rock n’ roll, America exploded. Kids loved it, parents hated it, religious nuts denounced it and racists accused him of infecting white America with black culture.

By the late ’80s, he was practically considered wholesome, harmless entertainment when Guns N’ Roses came along. They were loud, dirty, drunken buffoons, who dressed like slobs and played fast, dirty, misogynistic music. The MTV generation went wild, while their parents, who grew up on Elvis, naturally freaked. One of my fifth-grade classmates’ moms actually mailed copies of the group’s lyrics around to all of our parents warning them of the music’s dangers.

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Feb 172017
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

erictaylor

Eric Taylor is a former Clear Channel DJ who now serves as an elementary school teacher in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s been writing news pieces for Cover Me since 2015.
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Jan 202017
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

gnr

One could make the argument that ’80s rock ‘n’ roll changed the moment W. Axl Rose stepped off a bus with a piece of hay between his teeth. That was the indelible image that opened the video for “Welcome to the Jungle,” a song that opened with a great “SundaySundaySUNDAYYYY!!” riff from Slash and took the listener on a ride – no, a careen through the worst that the big city had to offer. It opened the best-selling debut album of all time, 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, with as big a bang as one could ask for, and to this day it intimidates visiting teams at sporting events nationwide.
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Dec 062016
 
best cover songs

Over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work making our list of The Best Cover Songs of 2016. Narrowing it down to 50 caused some excruciating choices, that’s how many great covers there were this year.

We’ll be posting the full list next week (and “Best Cover Albums” this Thursday), but as a little appetizer, here are our Honorable Mentions, covers we loved and still wanted to spotlight as among the best 2016 had to offer. Continue reading »