It’s the oldest tale in rock and roll: a person gets a guitar for their birthday, perhaps a Christmas present, or maybe their dad saw them eyeing one as they walked past a local music shop. That first instrument is a special purchase. The wannabe musician wants to learn how to play so they start pecking away at notes and chords, and usually head out to the garage with a few friends to play some covers from bands that perhaps started out the same way. After practicing an old Oasis or Neil Young song 100 times over, the newly appointed musician is now ready to take that next step and share it with the world on a platform that makes even the worst of musicians visible: YouTube.
How many times have you searched for a song on YouTube and seen bad covers by earnest-looking kids that make you want to jab number two pencils into your eardrums? I know I have clicked on more than my fair share of tone deaf wannabe musicians’ videos who would have been better served by thinking twice before clicking the “Upload” button. Hey, this is the Internet after all though you’re certainly free to put whatever you want up on media sharing websites however, more often than not, these renditions of one of your favorite original songs are inadequate at best.
Sometimes a pleasant surprise does happen. The covers don’t suck! Sometimes the person has a really clever or unique take on a song or even better a voice that actually does the song justice. It’s becoming common for new artists to get discovered via YouTube and while you may have to sift through some particularly horrendous versions of Velvet Underground songs, good cover songs really do exist!
So the next time you’re bored laying on the couch around the house, pick up the old laptop and see how many clicks it takes before you find someone who makes you sit back and say “hey, that was actually a pretty good version of that song.” To speed up the process , check out a few good videos of covers right here in this post.
Brendan Taylor hosts the indie alternative rock show, Indie Cuts, every Monday evening from 9-11 pm on WCRX 88.1 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @Btayradio