‘White people poorly covering black music must be stopped’: The dos and don’ts of the 2020 cover version


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he cover has been a music industry staple forever. Whether Frank Sinatra and the Great American Songbook, Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” or Miley Cyrus’s take on “Zombie” by The Cranberries, countless musicians have offered their own interpretations of other people’s music, for money, to gain a following or as a means of appreciation. In Hollywood, remakes and reboots are the currency. To many people, these evidence the entertainment industry’s lack of originality. But over the past few years in music, and particularly in 2020, where musicians have found themselves with a considerable amount of free time on their hands, the cover song has been given a new lease of life. And musicians themselves, too.

For English folk artist Marika Hackman, who released a full album of low-key covers last month, it was a way of avoiding writer’s block caused by pandemic anxiety. “I didn’t want to stress myself out and flog a dead horse,” she says. “It’s a very different experience [to writing an original album], but it stopped me from doing nothing.” She chose songs by artists she admired, and was careful when it came to interpreting them, especially ones…



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