Remember Joe Cocker? There was a time in the late 1980s on MTV (when actual music was on that channel) when the woodstock movie would play late nights nearly every month. Joe Cocker was one of the highlights of that whole festival. He was raw and powerful – and the songs were not just great but double-great. He was the first star pop musician to cover other great pop songs in a twisted and wholly reinvented way – they were better than the originals. Other less popular musicians did “twisted” covers (e.g. Nina Simone), but Cocker’s entire career was based on covers. Very unusual.
Fast-forward to 2012 and EVERYONE is a cover artist, espcially on Youtube. When I heard a podcast two years ago with Jack Conte (aka Pomplamoose) – this balding, mildly talented composer – explain how he and his girlfriend had quit their jobs for music and built a massive following just by posting creatively re-arranged covers of top 40 songs on Youtube – I thought “I’ve gotta do that”. The covers got him attention for his original music, increased sales, etc. Great Success!
That podcast must’ve let the cat out of the bag – because now everyone is doing Youtube covers, and its very hard to break through now with this tactic, even if you’ve got a boatload of talent and and an ability to radically re-arrange and re-invent a pop song, as I do…if I say so myself.
My own cover songs – 4 so far, building toward a full album’s worth – are certainly getting more attention than my purely original tracks on my Youtube channel, but I have yet to see even one go mildly viral yet.
Here’s my catalog of covers so far, followed by some of my favorites from other Youtube artists. Please spread the word if you enjoy them: