Definition of "cover" recording of work


Saw a previous topic on this from last year, but didn’t seem definitive. What I am asking is when “cover” should be used as an attribute in a recording - work relationship. Wikipedia entry gives some historical insight but seems lacking.

There seems to be assumption that “cover” mainly refers to artists that mimic or in some cases parody works that are “commonly” associated with a specific sound recording – often the performing artist of the “original” is also the songwriter/composer of the work.

But as the wiki article discusses, works created in earlier periods (before around 1970) often were recorded by numerous performing artists. So are all of these considered “covers”, or none?

Then there are works that have come to be regarded as “standards” in a genre, and have been recorded many, many times. Are these “covers”?

I guess it comes down to, does MB consider “cover” in an expansive sense or in a limited sense, and if the later what are the cases in which “cover” should be assigned in the recording/work relationship?


I know I’m reviving an older topic here, but I have the same question.

To me, a cover implies a version of a work that’s strongly identified with one particular artist (as performed by someone other than that artist). That would exclude, for instance, jazz standards.

I don’t think “cover” has to be limited to artists that are primarily cover or tribute acts. Bruce Springsteen performing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” fits my notion of a cover.


And recordings of classical works. And traditional, folk, ethnic, world recordings.

I think “cover” is best confined to “popular music”.

I don’t know if that would be just “Western popular music” or also include K-pop, Japanese pop, Thai pop, Indian pop etc.


Intuitively that seems correct to me, but what about, for instance, the Kronos Quartet playing Purple Haze?


That should read, " “cover” is best confined to recordings of “popular music” works".

So Purple Haze by The Berlin Philharmonic is a cover.
And Led Zep playing either Danny Boy or Beethoven’s 5th isn’t.

(I’m not trying to argue by proclamation - rather making definite statements that others will point out the flaws in.)
For reasoned argument: “Cover” is an existing term in music recordings. It seems only to have value here on MB in as much as it follows the common usage - otherwise we could better call the field “work has been performed by by more than one artist/artists/groups/groupings” and extend it to include classical, tradition jazz etc etc. But would such a field capture anything of value? I spose we’d be able to see unpopular works?


I agree with this also. (My example wasn’t intending to argue, but more to test by example.)


With all this agreement we could probably put in a ticket for the Documentation for Cover to be adjusted to make clearer the limits of “Cover”.

Though currently the relevant documentation appears absent from the first 10 pages of search results.

Can anyone find it?