Games Meet Metal: Covers: Paying Tribute or Cashing In?

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Covers: Paying Tribute or Cashing In?

So I recently picked up the Deluxe Edition of Disturbed's latest album Asylum and they have recorded two covers for the release. One was U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and the other is Judas Preist's "Living After Midnight." The covers themselves aren't that bad and Disturbed is known for recording and releasing cover tunes having previously done "Shout" and "Land of Confusion." So far, the new covers that they have recorded haven't been made into radio singles, and I honestly didn't know they existed until I got the record. But at this stage of the game do we still expect Disturbed to record a cover for every other album? I just feel that they are doing it to uphold some sort of reputation rather than actually paying tribute to a particular artist. Also, the songs that they chose don't seem to fit with the narrative of some of their other tunes so I don't really get where they're coming from.

Now obviously Disturbed isn't the only metal band to record and release a cover and I'm not trying to pick on them but their latest album sparked this little rant. Children of Bodom have covered Britney Spears (among others) and Steel Panther recently covered the Backstreet Boys which was done more for comedy sake than anything else. Opeth have covered Deep Purple and Alice and Chains but these songs were released as bonus tracks and I consider them more to be tributes than grabbing a quick buck. Killswitch Engage released their cover of "Holy Diver" as a single and that brought them a lot of attention especially with the recent passing of Ronnie James Dio. Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne released entire albums of cover songs and a lot of the tunes chosen were songs that were highly inspirational to them instead of songs that were highly popular. When the songs were released as radio singles they became popular but I still feel that they were recorded as an act of tribute.

Tribute albums are all over the place and there are a lot of bands that participate in them to add a bit of their flavour to some of the bands that got them interested in music. Iron Maiden, Metallica, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and White Zombie all have tribute albums out there and most of them are a collection of music that have been recorded independently but sometimes they gather artists together specifically to record covers of these tunes and then the final result quietly makes its way onto store shelves.

For the most part I enjoy cover songs and I enjoy when bands play a cover live or record the odd cover here and there. But generally I find that when a band releases a cover song as a single, especially a song that everyone knows, I see it as a cash grab and I lose a little respect for that artist. The music that they cover doesn't really bother me and I think it's awesome when a band can cover a song that's very different from the genre of music that they normally play, if they can pull it off that is. I hope that Disturbed doesn't intend to release "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" as a single, but I have a strong feeling that they will.

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