Cover songs have always been a staple of lesser-known bands. They've also been a staple of washed-up solo artists looking to break back in. Then again, they've also been the staple of some bands--period. But you know what? There's nothing wrong with that.
I love covers. I'll admit it. In my mind, nothing is "sacred." Go ahead, remake "Yesterday" punk-style, reimagine "Jailhouse Rock" as a hip-hop anthm, gimmie the techno remix of "Stairway to Heaven."
Some people constantly flip out when a new cover is released. They call themselves "musical purists." They're kidding themselves. Those sort of people are "artist purists."
If one appreciates a good song for its lyrics or excellent (or potentially excellent) instrumentation, then a cover song is a fun new way to hear said song. We get the grand opportunity to hear a song we already like with a new voice, a new beat, a new guitar solo or new bass lines. What's wrong with that?
Hey, we should love cover songs because we already know the words.
Some of the best songs made are actually covers. Jimi Hendrix's take on Bob Dylan's "All along the Watchtower",
for instance, or Joe Cocker's remake of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends."
In recent years, we've seen an equal amount of notable and downright shameful covers. For every "Smooth Criminal" (Alien Ant Farm) there's a "Take My Breath Away" (Jessica Simpson). There's Guns 'n Roses' version of Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"...then there's Avril Lavigne's. Then there's Britney...oh Britney...who should be beaten with piano wire for her pathetic renditions of both the Rolling Stones ("Satisfaction") and Joan Jett ("I Love Rock 'n Roll"). Thanks for trying, folks.
There have been some excellent cover songs make an appearance on the airwaves in recent months that have reinvigorated the non-genre. Korn's "Word Up" is a helluva rock out song from a 70s funk original from Cameo. Possibly the king of popular modern covers, Marilyn Manson does it again with a rock-the-hell-out version of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" (you may recall he also has some awesoem covers of 80s hits "Sweet Dreams" and "Tainted Love" in his repertoire).
The cover song is cool. Say it with me: The cover song is cool. Now believe it...cause someday you'll hear a remake of "Sk8tr Boi" and you'll long for today's covers. Trust me.