In the catalogues of great artists, from Johnny Cash covering Hank Williams to John Mayer covering Tom Petty, everyone does cover songs. The question is what a band should consider to pick the right song to cover. These are four considerations that I have found to be most helpful in determining the song fit for your band.
Song Needs to be Tasty
The first thing you got to look for is songs that fit your bands taste either musically or lyrically. Your band obviously needs to enjoy the cover song if it is going to emulate the original. I think a great way to get into the music is think what the artist was thinking when they wrote those cords or lyrics and if you can relate to that artist’s expression it should rank high on your tasty music scale.
Consider the Styles
You should fit your bands style correctly to your style and the events style. Depending on your bands style, it may be difficult to do a total 360 in their genre in a cover song. Also, a cover song should also consider the style of the event that the cover will be performed. On December 3rd, I am performing originals and classic rock covers at the Rock N Brews and Food Truck Fest in Hollywood. Now if I were to come out singing Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time” it may not exactly fit in with the whole Rock style and might be an issue. The point is, consider the style for the specific concert where it will be performed.
Consider Your Ability
As much as I would love to be able to do a cover of “Stairway to Heaven” I would never do it because I have a have a long long long long progression vocally before I can attempt to try to imitate Jimmy Page. So, keep your own current vocal range and music ability in mind when selecting your cover. I am a big believer in the idea that a more simple song sung remarkably is always better than a extremely difficult song sung decently.
To Thine Own Music Be True
Yes your band is covering a different artists music, but its important to make it your own. Making the covering song your own can entail anything from adding your own personal singing style to changing the tempo to completely altering the songs original genre (see Papa Roach’s rendition of Michael Jackson’s song “Smooth Criminal”). Whatever you do to make the song your own, it is important to reflect your bands creativity. Although this is not your original music, you need to bring it to life in for a new audience and it can be as much a representation of your creativity as original music.
Enjoy your jams music fam!