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Do You Mind when Idol Contestants Sing Other Artists' Covers?

Do You Mind when Idol Contestants Sing Other Artists' Covers?

If it's Springtime, there must be an American Idol controversy brewing. Right on cue, David Cook has stepped up as this year's rabble-rouser. Much like Chris Daughtry was slammed for performing a version of "Walk the Line" that was originally performed by Live without identifying the band as his inspiration, Cook has found himself at the center of controversies over covers of his own.

A band called Doxology is accusing Cook of using their version of "Eleanor Rigby" for a Beatles week performance without giving them proper credit. When Cook performed Chris Cornell's version of "Billie Jean" on Idol last week, the judges praised his originality — despite the fact that Ryan Seacrest identified the song as Cornell's in the intro to the performance.

Maybe Cook is really an innovative musician and performer. Maybe he's just skilled at finding cover versions of songs he likes and singing them well. Here's my question: Does it matter? Should Idol contestants be limited to the original arrangements of songs, or should all covers be fair game?

Photo courtesy of Fox

Join The Conversation
mamaseacat mamaseacat 9 years
Doesn't matter how or what they're singing, as long as they're singing it well.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
Nope -- Brooke went for Jolene. David sang his own arrangement of Little Sparrow. (And they addressed the double-cover controversy in his mini pre-song interview. We can *finally* lay this one to rest now.)
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
Slightly off-note: Idolator is already making guesses about which cover-song David might choose to cover on tonight's Dolly Parton themed episode. (Their bet? The White Stripes' cover of Jolene. ~ We'll see.)
secretlyironic secretlyironic 9 years
It totally makes sense to do a song that's been covered several times. If I'm not mistaken, there's a word for songs that everybody plays or that get covered all the time - "standards." It's also strategically a good idea: If you're singing a song that hit the top 40 in '78, '88, and '98, you've got three different generations of pop listeners who know it and can sing along with you. That helps a lot for the voting.
star-gazer star-gazer 9 years
let's see. the idols are told to take a song and make it their own. BUT if they do, then they are critisized. therefore, what better way to make a song---that they usually don't know very well due to availability---their own than doing a cover of a cover? all they are trying to do is showcase their abilities as singers and preformers. its a fun show to watch and critique, and its not called Which Hopeful Can Write His/Her Own Song in a Week and Make it Great...
linb linb 9 years
Damn, I submitted my answer before I realized there was "Who cares" option.
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 9 years
Well, I definitely think Chris Cornell deserved more credit for his Billie Jean interpretation because David Cook did NOT come up with it himself. But this claim by this obscure band Doxology does not seem as relevant to me. I'm pretty sure they were not the first band to cover "Eleanor Rigby" in a unique way.
Brittfish Brittfish 9 years
I was annoyed the first time this issue came up with Chris Daughtry and Live's version of "Walk the Line" and I'm annoyed now - this couldn't be more of a non-issue. What does it matter if they're singing a cover or a cover of a cover? Their only job is to find a song that fits their voice and style. Can we please give this one a rest?
miss-britt miss-britt 9 years
I have a problem with the judges not knowing that certain contestants are doing someone else's covera and them thinking they are the original one. I now have a lot of respect for Blake Lewis who, for the most part always came up with an original arrangement of the song he was going to perform that week.
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 9 years
Doxology who?
bhilb bhilb 9 years
When someone sings a cover of a cover, I think the cover artist deserves proper credit. It's misleading otherwise. My problem is that the judges (and thus the audience) keep thinking that Dave Cook is so original for the arrangements he sings, but since he has nothing to do with those arrangements, he is merely a good singer like the rest of them.
Phasekitty Phasekitty 9 years
:oy: I saw this story on TMZ the day after Cook performed Eleanor Rigby and just got annoyed. And then they gave Cornell credit for last week's Billie Jean and I thought they might be covering their butts. All in all, does it really matter? For one, Doxology is such an obscure Myspace band that it's entirely possible that it's just a coincidence- how similar are the two covers, really? And secondly, the dude is getting so much attention and praise because he performs them well, not because he jacks covers. If they were performed poorly he wouldn't be on the show anymore but the kid's got talent no matter what way you slice it. Credit or no credit, I'm fine either way- yid was dead on with how much they give those kids to do each week- they can't be expected to come up with an original performance each time.
PinkTink707 PinkTink707 9 years
I don't mind...and I think that David Cook sang that Billie Jean cover so well....he's my pick!! just had to throw that in ;)
em1282 em1282 9 years
I don't know--I kind of go back and forth on this issue. I'm a musician and I know how friggin' hard it is to come up with creative arrangements, and how amazing it is to hear a fresh take on familiar songs (Jamie Cullum's arrangements, anyone?). But at the same time they're all singing covers anyway... I think what bugs me the most is when the judges give him a tongue bath after one of his performances and fall all over themselves to call him "brave" and "original". Uhhh...yeah, he went to iTunes, searched for his song for the week, and imitated someone else's performance. That's not very "brave" to me. He should give credit where it's due and the judges should lay off the excessive praise for being soooo "original".
yiddidea yiddidea 9 years
"I'm not convinced that *anyone* intended wrongdoing here, but I easily place more responsibility for proper protocol on the big guys in charge than on the naive contests who don't know any better." Agreed!
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
**it was NOT necessary info until now. . .** ((typo))
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
Oh, and this controversy also begets the question: WHO is (and should be) burdened with the responsibility of indicating whether the song is a double-cover? Seacrest always introduces the performances. Perhaps the people are AI were aware when singers were double-covering, but felt it wasn't necessary to pass the info along to the general audience. I imagine that the contestants must have to let the band know which arrangement they'd like to follow. I'd guess that the producers are also aware (but I don't know a lick about The Biz, so I could be wrong). Who informs Seacrest? Who writes his script? Maybe the info was lost amongst too many hands and handlers. Or, maybe the producers never felt it was necessary information to share until now. (They would want an exciting show, and they love to create the illusion of "the next big thing" -- interesting, obscure arrangements of popular songs would achieve that and create buzz for the show.) I'm not convinced that *anyone* intended wrongdoing here, but I easily place more responsibility for proper protocol on the big guys in charge than on the naive contests who don't know any better.
yiddidea yiddidea 9 years
duck duck - For me, until David Cook is given a chance to respond to the allegation by Doxology I will hold off judgment on that one. Since Eleanor Rigby is a song that has been covered many times, it may be hard to prove that he "stole" that arrangement. I can honestly see how more than one rock singer could come up with a similar arrangement to a previously recorded song.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
ace -- Cook's performance of Cornell's "Billie Jean" arrangement is the one that I know (with certainty) received proper credit at the time of the performance. Evidently, "Eleanor Rigby" did not (but it may still be an argument that he did not snarf that band's cover; I don't know), nor do I remember the impressive "Hello" arrangement receiving credit, but I could be wrong. (Has it been confirmed that David followed another artist's rendition of "Hello"? I thought it had, but cannot recall.)
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
** yid said, "he gave credit to the other artist every time" ** Well, that's kinda the point of this post on Buzz, I think; he did NOT give credit to each of his double-covers (yup, that's what I'm callin' 'em!) -- Buzz wrote "A band called Doxology is accusing Cook of using their version of "Eleanor Rigby" for a Beatles week performance without giving them proper credit." So, the question is this: Is covering a pre-existing cover-arrangement of some other muscian's original work *without* giving credit to the original cover artist ((I tell ya, I'm *not* getting tired of the fun language play here)) reasonable? Or should he be punished for his *cheatin' ways*? (And how so?)
acemonkey acemonkey 9 years
David Cook is one of my faves, but I do think that he needs to acknowlege that he is covering another band's arrangement. It is only fair. I didn't know until recently that "Billie Jean" was actually Chris Cornell's cover. At the time I thought wow that's an awesome version and come to find out it wasn't David Cook's arrangement.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
**I just typed out my response and posted, but it didn't show. Grrrrr.**
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
American Idol remains a singing (and, by extension, performance) competition, right? (Not a challenge for best musicianship or a contest to choose the greatest innovater -- but a *singing* competition.) **shrugs** This is the reason why I'm okay with covers of other muscian's covers. It is proper and in good form to credit the original cover artist (hah! I love oxymoronic phrases) -- song arrangements definitely factor into audience opinion and directly affect voting -- but I just don't really feel like I've been viciously deceived. I'm not amongst an incensed mob, shouting "plagiarist," because I've attended enough live performances and witnessed established artists perform (presumably) cover songs without crediting the original artist. It's a performance; they sing and play their instruments, but they don't necessarily list every song during a concert (even if it isn't their own). They clearly aren't trying to claim the cover song as their own original work; they just choose not to enumerate their play-list. Different circumstances, I know -- but I kinda feel like many are unfairly attributing devious intentions (to David Cook) where there are none.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
sounds to me like some bad is trying to get their moment in the light. These people aer singers, not all are actual musicians that can write or arrange music. I see nothing wrong with covering a version of a song that fits them well. Isn't that what this competition is about?
yiddidea yiddidea 9 years
Honestly, asking these contestants to come up with a completely original arrangement, work with the band on it, film a stupid Ford commercial, learn the group numbers and all the other stuff they have to do in ONE WEEK is asking too much. Since this is a singing competition I don't mind that they use another artist's version of a song. Plus, he gave credit to the other artist every time, so what is the controversy here?
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