(The Covering Ground is an ongoing series. One of my favorite things is a cover song. I prefer good, even great versions of a song, rather than a poorly executed cover song. But, even a bad cover song can be of interest.
I know there are those out there, often called Purists, who believe that there is only One True Version of a song. Typically, it’s the original version that gets elevated to iconic status, and any other version automatically sucks, and any artist who dares to cover the One True Version is destined to rot in the deepest pits of hell. It’s been my experience that there is very little middle ground: you either hate every cover song, or, you’re like me, who may not love every cover version, but can appreciate the way a new version sounds.
I think music, more so than other art forms, is capable of constantly evolving. When a song is completely re-imagined, whether it works or not, is a fine thing. Music, like all art, is a reflection of the artist and how they see the world around them. Some people see a cover version as an artist trying to Be Better Than the One True Version. I don’t see it that way. It always seems to me to be something twofold: one, a way of telling the One True Version that it was really good, and it inspired something inside the cover artist; and, then, by recording it, is saying Thank You for being such a great song, and inspiring so many thoughts and feelings inside me.)
This fall, Katy Perry released her fourth album, Prism. I’ll be honest and say that I am not a card-carrying Katy Perry fan. I’ve got nothing against her — her voice is better than many of her contemporaries, she writes catchy tunes that make you want to sing along, and, she writes a good anthem song. Her previous album, Teenage Dream, included the anthemic, inspirational single, Firework. Her new album features its own anthem song, Roar:
I think it’s fair to say that we all like a good anthem song (a song of strength, courage, survival, triumph). Think of the enduring success of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, for example, or, more recently, Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You). We all like a song that makes us feel better about ourself, a song that reminds us that we’ll survive and be a stronger person.
I know that I’m a sucker for anthem songs. I’ll sing along, at the top of my lungs, letting the message of the song wash over me. So, of course, Roar caught my attention when it was released. What’s not to like about the line “I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!” It’s feel good pop music at it’s best.
Last year, I posted an awesome song by newcomer, Rebecca Ferguson, called Nothing Real But Love (take a listen, you’ll be glad you did). Rebecca was the runner up on the seventh series of The X Factor (UK). Her first album, Heaven, was certified platinum in The UK, Ireland, and The US. In December of this year, she released her second album, Freedom, which is just as soulful and wonderful as her debut album was.
During a recording session at Air Studios, where she recorded several live versions of songs from her new album, she also sang a version of Katy Perry’s Roar. I have to say … I really, really like this version — it’s sound is a little more soulful than the original, and her powerful voice really does justice to the song:
As a bonus, here’s another song from the Air Studios sessions, a live version of the title track of her new album: