Dubai: Hallelujah, Yesterday, Knocking on Heaven’s Door, The Power of Love, Sweet Dreams… an eclectic collection of songs with a common thread. They are the most covered songs in musical history.
Cover songs are an integral part of the music business as they represent the challenges that musicians embrace in an attempt to raise the bar and propel their reputations to an all-new level.
Cover songs, or songs recorded by an artist that are re-recorded by another artist, are amazing.
Take for example the bitter-sweet Beatles ballad, Yesterday, which is the world’s most covered song. Yesterday, which was written by Paul McCartney as a paean to his mother when she passed away, would win a Grammy in 1965 for the Song of the Year and also help the Beatles movie soundtrack, Help, win a Grammy for the Record of the Year.
Artists as diverse as Marvin Gaye, Adam Levine of Maroon 5, the late Elvis Presley, Michael Bolton and Wet Wet Wet, to name just a few acts have taken to the studios to sing the iconic lines: “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay Oh, I believe in yesterday.”
I don’t sing, I wish I could, but I can’t put a tune together… even at Karaoke clubs. I’m that bad as a singer. But I have been blessed with a sharp ear for music and can call out even the smallest wrong pitch when listening to a song. I love spotting off-key pitches when I watch latest show like, America’s Got Talent, X Factor etc.
But coming back to cover songs, there is so much to discover about an artist’s character and attitude when you know that he or she has recorded a song made famous by someone else.
One of my favorite songs has to be the haunting Hallelujah, a gem of a song that was written by the late Leonard Cohen which appeared on his 1985 album, Various Position.
After Yesterday, this is the second most covered son in the world. It’s been recorded by the likes of Jeff Buckley.
Hallelujah, a Hebrew word which means Glory to the Lord, has been covered by the Who’s Who in the music industry, but perhaps the most famous version was recorded by Jeff Buckley on his epic 1994 album, Grace.
Other notable covers were recorded by John Cale, who founded The Velvet Underground with Lou Reed and Rufus Wainwright, who married Cohen’s daughter.
Wainwright recorded this for the 1001 movies Shrek which introduced one of modern music’s master pieces to a young audience who lapped it up.
Hallelujah also appeared to TV shows like Without A Trace, House, The West Wing, and OC.
I’m telling you all this just to illustrate how music spreads it joy on so many platforms.
I could go on and on about the majesty of cover songs, but we don’t have time for that, do we? I suggest you google up these musical gems and discover if your favorite song has been re-recorded by another artist.
I guarantee, it can be a lot of fun. Enjoy!
Top 5 songs I love to hear covered
Original artists in paranthesis
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
Yesterday (The Beatles)
Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics)
Knocking on Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan)
The Power of Love (Jennifer Rush)
More covers to love
Jessie J – “We Found Love” (Rihanna cover)
Johnny Cash – “Hurt” (Nine Inch Nails cover)
Adele – “Lovesong” (The Cure cover)
Smashing Pumpkins – “Landslide” (Stevie Nicks cover)
The Flaming Lips – “Borderline” (Madonna cover)
Panic! At The Disco – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen cover)