10.24.10

Hijacked Hits & Anti Authenticity

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:35 pm by nicole

In the most modern meaning of the word, I’ve always been a fan of “cover” songs. But before reading this I didn’t even think of the history behind the word, I thought it was as simple as just singing someone else’s song and crediting them for using it. After reading this article though, it’s very interesting to discover that cover songs actually developed because of racial segregation. It’s still hard to get over the fact that not only did inequalities consume African American’s everyday lives during this era, but it also transpired in their entertainment. I know music for some people provides an escape and, it’s unfortunate to image listening to a song back in the day knowing the exploitation of black artists behind it. The exploitation of African American musicians is unfortunate because not only did they’re creative talent go unaccredited but they received no money for their work. During the time when black and white artists competed on the charts I’m curious of how audiences would respond if they weren’t informed on which artist was which race, would white artists still top the charts. Also before it was brought up later in the article, one of the first things I thought about curious about was what would happen if the situation was turned around and black artists were covering songs by white artists while white artists were being exploited.
I liked reading about the connection of “Strange Fruit” and Billie Holiday since we had discussed the song and its meaning in class. The face that I was familiar with the song prior after listening to it in class made to reading more meaningful. It’s important to consider how powerful that song was and how it was bonded to Billie Holiday because of the impact it had after listening to it. This makes me think about the show Glee and younger generations. I was reading some article and they were saying how fast the CD’s and singles from the show reache#1 on Itunes, literally days after episodes air. They said how younger generations are basically exposed to the songs from the show and many of them have never heard the original recordings of the songs and are only familiar with the songs because of the show whose versions are very different from the original recordings. It makes you think about how moving Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” is because other artists have covered it, yet it’s still most famously recognized as her song.
When Coyle questions authenticity in cover songs he makes an interesting point. I fully understand the image factor and expectations to have experienced the stuff one sings about, but, I feel like nowadays since singers are forced to credit the original recording the audience is aware that the song is not written by the person covering. Therefore, expectations should be disregarded. When I listen to someone singing a cover I’m not concerned with their personal connection to the song. If I’m familiar with the original recording, I’m mostly interested in how the person covering the song can it to make it new and fresh. I don’t like hearing a cover sung exactly the same way as the original because then it feels less authentic to me if they can’t do anything creative to make it there own. The question of authenticity is brought up with the gospel singer but it’s also important when talking about Gibb. The fact that he records a “white” record without changing anything by keeping the same arrangement and band and not having success is interesting because it makes you question the audience’s motivation for liking and not liking a song. If everything is the same practically as the first successful record, why would it not make a second hit record? Especially when white bands were trying to sound black in their records and gaining some commercial success.

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2 Comments

  1.    krillnyc said,

    October 28, 2010 at 1:16 am

    The first time I heard Strange Fruit, is when Sting covered it on a album with Gil Evans, which I have if you want to listen to it, and I had not idea what it was about. I knew that Billie Holiday sang it and all I remember how abstract the lyrics were, like most of his stuff. It was only years later did I made the connection through an article that I read which that picture was shown. My point is that this song made such an impact in the day because the wounds were so fresh then. But in a hundred years from now and we finally live in a peaceful society ,hopefully, will the lyrics make sense then?

  2.    janki ahir said,

    January 27, 2014 at 1:27 am

    So glad you love Motown as much as I do! I just read Philip’s feedback on your proposal on this subject, but am looking around trying to find my copy and can’t track it down. If you could get a copy to me asap that would be great, and apologies if I’ve missed it somewhere…Results 2014

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