Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Can a cover version have more than one original?

At first sight a trivial question which you would answer with a clear "no" in the first impulse. The original only exists once. You can argue which song came out first, but that one is the original.

So far, so simple – but unfortunately it's not that simple in the world of music. The best example that currently causes us headaches in the editorial staff are the so-called "Sanremo cases" in our database. In the early decades of the Sanremo Music Festival, it was organized from the beginning as a composer and not as an performer competition. It was common that a song was presented by two different artists to the audience and the jury. The award went to the composer and to the song, and thus to both performers.

Many songs of the festival – and not only the winning titles – became world hits and thus were covered many times. This of course brings us to the dilemma that we can't determine exactly which artist sang the original. So far, we have avoided this decision, especially since in the old version of our database it would have been very difficult to register two originals for cover versions. So there are currently 344 "Sanremo cases" without directly assigned performers in the database where the two performers are mentioned only in the comment.

In theory it is possible to allow two originals, but do we want that? Not really, but of course we try to find a feasible solution. We already had the idea to take the song which was performed first at the festival as the original and its second performance with the other artist as the cover. But unfortunately the sources available on the Net don't give any reliable information about the order in which the songs were presented.

Hence our question to all music lovers who know and use our site: What do you think about the idea that there could be two originals? Or should we stick to the current strict principle and simply choose one original? Is there anyone among you who has more detailed information about the Sanremo Music Festival, someone who perhaps knows sources that document the order of appearances?

The "Sanremo cases" are not the only ones that sometimes make us wonder. In the Disney cartoon "Aladdin" the song "A Whole New World" is performed by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane. But it's played a second time, at the end of the movie during the whole time of the credits. But this time Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle are the artists. In this case it was relatively easy for us after a short discussion to enter the version by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane as the original as their interpretation is played in the film before Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle. The soundtrack album with both songs was released after the movie premiere and so there was also a disc for the cover version.

It gets funny when the soundtrack album appears before the movie premiere. And there is such a case, even with the similar constellation of a double interpretation. In the Disney cartoon "The Lion King" there is the song "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" performed by a whole ensemble of singers.

Now the soundtrack album was released on May 31, 1994, but the movie premiere was on June 15, 1994. So for us the album counts as the sound carrier for the original song. The only problem is that both on the album and in the movie the song appears a second time, again during the credits. This time it was sung by Elton John together with another group of artists.

Since the album was released first, we can't say: In the movie the song runs at the end, so this is the cover version. Someone can easily play the last song of the CD at the beginning and listen to the last track first. But in this case we have the good "fortune" that the version with Elton John has the title "Can You Feel The Love Tonight (End Title)", so it is really a cover version for us, even if it is on the same record. And like so many cover versions, this one has overtaken the original in popularity.

Dear music lovers, this little excursion should just illustrate that it is not always that easy to determine what is the original and what is the cover version. But our question to the COVER.INFO community remains: Can you help us with information regarding the "Sanremo cases"? What's your opinion about the approach to relate a cover song to two originals?

We hope for a lot of feedback, there is enough space for comments on this article.

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