Rumpling the covers


Photo illo by Korbl Klimecki

Alisha Kirby and Alisha Kirby

Fall brings many changes to campus: an influx of young faces comes fresh from high school to struggle to enroll in classes, the leaves change color, and a dozen guys bring their acoustic guitars and kill time by playing cover songs.

That last bit about covering songs, that’s what I’m going to focus on. Because more often than not, the sound of someone covering an overplayed radio hit is equally as terrible as realizing too late that you wonʼt ever need to read that $120 looseleaf textbook you were required to buy.

Even songs you truly enjoy can run their course and be thrown into the “I never want to hear this song again” pile within just a few weeks.

So then when is it socially acceptable to cover a song? When it’s a year old? If it’s an early 2000s jam? I can never hear amateurs play Death Cab For Cutieʼs “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” enough times. What about the day a song is released? I swear if I see one more link on Facebook or Twitter from a band or some random kid to their cover of Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” I’m going to run to the woods in Washington where there’s no Internet connection or Wi-Fi. At least there Iʼll be able to truly avoid any and all exposure to the virus that is Top 40 radio.

We’re already bombarded by the original version either on the radio, or in half of the commercials on television, and I’m sure it’s being rehearsed on Glee right now. I just want to be able to walk down the hall without hearing a pitchy rendition of a song that was never meant to be stripped down to a single guitar. There needs to be layers upon layers of sound to cover up the fact that youʼre listening to someone sing the word “applause” about 36 times in three and a half minutes – and yes, I did take the time to listen and count myself. Itʼs called research, kids.

“I like to play songs people do know and enjoy,” says Morgan Medrano, an ARC student often found playing his guitar near the Rose Marks Pavilion. “Something goofy and upbeat…like Tenacious D or Bloodhound Gang.”

There isnʼt a timeline when it comes to covers, but I do have one rule: Play what you like, but put your own spin on it. Donʼt be that guy that plays “Wonderwall” the same way every 20 minutes.