Collaborative covers 2.0

We can do incredible things on the Internet. The exchange of ideas and media at the click of a mouse serves to push musicians to new levels. Entire websites are dedicated to how to play songs, ranging from lyrics to tablature to how to mimic effects used by musicians. One of the beautiful affordances of Web 2.0 is the ability to collaborate on musical works. Individuals throughout the world can interact online to produce new songs or, more relevant to this blog, recreate the works of others. The following are a few examples of websites that allow for such collaborative covers:

Digital musician

Digitalmusician.net is a website that allows musicians from around the world to connect to work on projects. The website allows a peer-to-peer connection between up to 3 users, such that computers can directly connect to each other for live recording of songs. While many of the songs are original works, many users also seek out musicians from around the world to help create covers.

In B flat
InBflat.net is a website that embeds YouTube videos from different contributors in the key of B flat. The website designers synchronized the playback feature such that regardless of what order or at what time the videos are played, they come together to form a soothing melody. Viewers can play around with different combinations to create completely different songs.

YouTube: Tyler Ward
Of course, discussion of musical collaboration via Web 2.0 would not be complete without addressing YouTube. Musicians from around the world post covers of songs and comment on the works of others. In this way, networks of musicians can be formed, and if the parties are interested, online collaboration can allow for incredible covers. Some musicians meet on the Internet but record songs in person. Others, though, simply upload the various components of a cover song and allow the piece to come together, one instrument at a time, from across the globe.

Tyler Ward, hailing from Denver, Colorado uploads many covers by himself or with fellow musicians in proximity. However, as his online fan base has grown, so has his utilization of the Internet to collaborate on covers.

Cobus Potgieter of South Africa adds his incredible percussive abilities to remake Flo Rida's Club Can't Handle Me:

Drew Dawson of Illinois incorporates her impressive vocals in the collaborative rendition of Cee Lo Green's Forget You:


This cover was taken a step further as Keith Reber added in a backing drum track:

Tyler Ward is by no means the only musician utilizing such affordances of the Internet. YouTube and other such sites are full of musicians finding others who are geographically distant but share similar musical tastes and talent and want to work together using the Internet to create covers. As musicians grow more accustomed to the affordances of the Internet, and as technology improves, such collaborative works will likely play a prominent role in covers and the music industry in general.


Punk goes crunk

Many music lovers enjoy multiple genres. Sure, most people have their favorite, but there often is some crossover in taste. Covers sometimes bridge genres, and the following CD is a great example of this.

The CD was released in 2008 and features 15 songs from bands ranging from quite famous to relatively obscure in the punk rock to metalcore genre (for those who don't feel like clicking on the link metalcore is described as a fusion genre combining various elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk). They all cover hip-hop, R&B, or similarly categorized music.

Is the CD worth buying?
In all honesty, probably not.

According to Laurie Mercer at allmusic.com:
This record is really unlikable, both in general and specific terms. Singing lyrics meant to be rapped enfeebles the poetry and neutralizes its rhythmic underpinnings, while bastardizing production styles to mimic samples is simply sonic chicanery that doesn't fool the ear.

An amazon.com reviewer believes the CD would be more aptly titled Punk Goes Stupid. Clever, right?

Is it all bad?
Definitely not. There are some well done covers on the CD. The following is a pretty solid rendition of Akon's "I wanna love you":

Punk Goes Crunk also brings up an interesting point about covers worth addressing. Part of the beauty of being able to perform the work of another artist is that covers have no limits. Songs from previous generations or from different genres are all fair game. Songs can be covered in different languages, and altered so greatly that individuals may not even recognize it as a cover if listening to it and the original one after the other.

Mat Weddle's rendition of Outkast's "Hey ya" accentuates the lyrical content in a way that the original version cannot accomplish because of the fast pace.

Bruce Hornsby's "The way it is" took on a completely different tone when redone by Tupac in "Changes". Tupac focused in on race relations from a very personal perspective, while Hornsby seemed to touch on the subject from an outsider's point of view.

Covering a song of another genre allows for different interpretation of the piece and often a focus on a part that the original might not emphasize. In addition, covering such songs allows listeners to appreciate and access types of music they might not otherwise explore.