On ’80s Music and Originality

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I listened to 80s Radio on Spotify this morning in the shower.

First song: Land Of Confusion by Genesis. I thought about how inferior the nu metal cover by Disturbed was. Squashed dynamics, missing harmonic material, missing the lydian bridge melody. (Why?!) The original recording brought back memories, because I’m old enough to remember watching this video on TV many times when it came out. It was powerful to see, especially for a kid growing up with Ronald Reagan as president.

Second song: I Shot The Sheriff by Bob Marley. I was already in the shower when this one started, so I had to suffer through it. But by the time the first verse ended, I realized this is where Sting got his vocal style. Not sure if Bob Marley also stole his style from someone else. Also not sure why this was on 80s radio, if it was released in 1973.

Third song: Word Up by Cameo. I don’t think I ever realized Korn didn’t write this song. In the lyrics, I noticed the cliché phrase “Wave your hands in the air like you don’t care.” Is this where it originated, in 1986? I doubt it was from an earlier time (not caring about things is a recent invention). I don’t recall Korn’s version being all that inventive. A note-for-note replay with a different timbre.

As I turned off Spotify and left for the studio, I realized how those three songs in a row all just happened to trigger thoughts about remakes and originality in music.

What’s the difference between good and bad here? I have some ideas:

1.) If you’re going to cover a song, don’t leave out the best parts.
2.) If you’re going to copy someone, use their element in a new mixture.
3.) Introduce some new ideas!

Leave things better than you found them, right?

In my opinion, Eyal Amir and friends did just that in the video above.

-Carl.

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