Some people think that music covers are an inferior copy of a song and there is nothing better than the original song. In some cases, that could be true, but cover versions can also be equally or more popular than the first version of the song, for example the song “Me and Bobby McGee” interpreted by Janis Joplin but originally performed by Roger Miller. Usually, the most famous a song or band is, the more others will make covers of them.
Some well known artists once in a while get adventurous and record a cover of a famous song and adapt it to their personal style and rhythm. For instance, many of Led Zeppelin and the Beatles greatest hits were covers; they were especially inspired by African American music. There are other artists, however, that specialize in playing cover versions of individual songs or recording tribute albums of famous bands.
Cover recordings appear during the beginning of the 1900's when recording labels hired various singers to interpret hit songs and get some of the original tune’s profits. Radio stations could only transmit to a reduced geographic area; therefore, different stations will play different versions of a song. In a way, the covers of one song were considered originals.
In some cases, teenagers or young adults don’t even know that their favorite song is a cover from the 80’s. Thanks to tools like the Covers Project it is easy to find which song is a cover and which an original and also to find other versions of the song by other artists.
Austin Public library owns several music CD’s of cover bands, or artist that just wanted to record covers of their favorite music like for example:
Songs I heard by Harry Connick
The very best of Diana Krall, for a very good version of "Fly me to the moon"
Rock swings by Paul Anka
Tribute to the Beatles by 101 Strings
Rhythms del mundo, Various artists
Apocalyptica plays Metallica by four cellos
Strange little girls by Tori Amos
A hillbilly tribute to mountain love by Hayseed Dixie
*Picture taken from MIT.