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Why Music Artists Refrain From Doing Covers of Beatle Songs

Updated on March 26, 2010

 Let's be honest. Most artists, whether famous or not, refrain from doing a cover song originally performed and written by The Beatles. Many well known artists have the opportunity, yet, refrain from it out of fear of not doing it well. Many have attempted to put on a fresh sound or arrangement to their songs and totally fail.

The Beatles set the bar so high for all of their songs, it is a daunting task for a recording artist or band to do it justice. Simply put-- it is seldom ever done. It is rare that the cover of the song is better than how The Beatles recorded.

Take U2, they did Helter Skelter years ago. While it does have its moments, it is hollow when compared to how they did in 1968. Bono's voice is no match for the screaming McCartney or Harrison's saw-like guitar sound that predates the Led Zeppelin hard metal sound.

Recently, many movies and TV shows have Beatle songs, All covered by other artists. Why? well, the reason is expense. Two movies, I Am Sam (Sean Penn) and Across the Universe have nothing but Beatle songs as their soundtrack. There are other movies with some Beatle songs. In all the cases, the originals are not used. The reason, as told by the producers of the movies, is had they used the original recordings (which was their first choice) the cost to use them would have made the cost of the movie too costly.

On I Am Sam, some well known artists attempt their take of the Beatle song with funny and horrible results. None of the covers from Come Together to Here Comes the Sun are very good. In one case, you would swear the band was trying purposefully to do a horrible cover.

On Across the Universe, we have some covers that do equal the original recordings. For instance, on I Want To Hold Your Hand, the rocker song was turned into a stunning slow ballad, sung perfectly. The cover of " I Want you, She's So Heavy" is equally good, slightly less than the original, another is "It Won't Be Long" which is the female version of this early Beatle hit, another is With a Little Help From My Friends, which actually is better than Ringo's version in 1967.

The common thread with all of good covers is none deviate far from how the original was presented. The general form and structure of the song remains identical to the originals, the sound is different.

Long before The Beatles were songwriters, they were a band that did nothing but covers of famous songs (listen to the Beatles at the BBC CD). In almost all cases, they did them better, sometimes changing the whole arrangement. Their second LP, is filled with covers, like Roll Over Beethoven, which outclasses the original Chuck Berry song to shame.



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      SELTAEB 6 years ago

      I am a huge Beatles fan, so I don't think there are any covers of their songs that are done better. However, my two favorite covers are: Earth Wind and Fire's "Got To Get You Into My Life" and Elton John's "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". I thoroughly enjoyed the movie "Across The Universe". They did an amazing job on interpreting all the songs. The visualizations were incredible.

    • I am DB Cooper profile image

      I am DB Cooper 7 years ago from Whereabouts unknown at this time

      I really like Fiona Apple's cover of Across the Universe. I think I first heard it in the movie Pleasantville, but I'm sure it was released on one of her albums or at least the Pleasantville soundtrack.

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 7 years ago

      Crystal Bowman on American Idol did a great job with Come Together and simply stayed true to the original. Garcia tried a version of of "Can't Buy Me Love" with disasterous results

    • dukeboxx profile image

      dukeboxx 7 years ago

      Hey heck out my suggestions for the ten best Beatles covers see what you think, it is possible to match the best, I think only Joe Cocker improved on the original.

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 7 years ago

      Sound, yes. Absolutely. You can spot their sound miles away.

    • Yard of nature profile image

      Yard of nature 7 years ago from Michigan

      It's an interesting concept and one I think can be said of a few other groups, Pink Floyd comes to mind. In part I think it's because The Beatles' "sound" is so much a part of their song. In many cases, a good song is just that and can be done in many different ways. The Beatles had a sound, though, and that might be a difference. Thanks.