3 Steps to Make a Cover Song YOUR OWN

3 Steps to Make a Cover Song YOUR OWN
A well-crafted cover song can be a thing of beauty and raise your chances of getting attention - says Lisa Popeil

Here are three tips to help get you started on making someone else’s great song yours.

1.  Change the tempo

Make an uptempo song into a ballad, or a romantic song into a snappy dance number simply by speeding up or slowing down the beat. Don’t be random about the tempo change though… try to keep the integrity of the lyrics in mind when making tempo choices.

2.  Change the melody

Who says you have to sing the exact same notes as the original singer? Of course, you must follow most of the melody but feel free to make slight changes (going up where the original singer went down on a note, for example). Add subtle ornamentation to impart the message that this is your personal take on the song, especially if you’re changing the style from pop to R&B.

3.  Change the feel

Reggae anyone? Or take a dance song with a heavy disco beat and transform it into a sweet acoustic ballad. Transform a funk song into hard-hitting rock with stacks of guitars. Tickle the listener’s ear by starting the song with a familiar hook from the original. The goal is to lure the listener in and imagine them thinking “Hmmm. I think I recognize this song… what is it? …OH YEAH!” The joy of recognition is half the fun.

Reggae Music

Here are links to four original songs and excellent cover versions. You may even like the covers better than the originals.

Sting & Eva Cassidy: Fields of Gold

Original: Sting’s beautiful original chugs along with a steady drumbeat-great for slow dancing.

Cover: Eva Cassidy’s version is much slower, features acoustic guitar and a free, non-rhythmic vocal. It’s heartbreaking from the very beginning.

Demi Lovato & James Bell: Cool for the Summer

Original: The Original has a mid-tempo dance beat and “let’s make it a hit” production.

Cover: Young British singer/songwriter/guitarist James Bell turns the song on its head and renders it as a delicate, gorgeous ballad without changing the tempo.

Stevie Wonder & Red Hot Chili Peppers: Higher Ground

Original: Stevie’s 1973 version is funky, features wah-wah guitar and contrapuntal keyboard paths

Cover: RHCP keep the funk, speed up the groove, layer in the electric guitars, and churn it out!

Michael Jackson & Renata Flores Rivera: The Way You Make Me Feel

Original: MJ 1987 version has the requisite ‘80s synths, a slow groove and lots of signature vocal ejaculations.

Cover: A 14-year old Peruvian girl, Renata Flores Rivera has gone viral with her beautiful singing and her use of an ancient Incan language Quechua, not widely spoken today. Great jazzy interpretation.

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