One of the lyrics from “My Generation” by the Who is “I hope I die before I get old.” Whether a celebrity passed in their prime or at an elderly age, the value and timelessness of their work can be tested through the amount of songs remixed and remade by current singers. Entering “cover songs” in the YouTube search box will provide about 8.5 million results. Millions of people enjoy utilizing their talent to emulate their favorite artists. Typing the phrase “celebrity cover songs” will produce an average of 253,000 video options. These statistics prove that similar to the average person, celebrities regularly model their skills after the work of music legends from both the present and past.
Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé have both performed a variety of work by Etta James. With “At Last” being the most commonly heard by both singers, Aguilera also performed James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” in the 2010 movie Burlesque. Despite bringing forward a new, high-quality sound to these songs, the originality and power of James’ work continues to provide material for artists of all generations to honor. Sam Smith created a cover of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” for Sirius XM earlier last year and the video has received close to 12 million views. He also performed Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” for BBC Radio.
The Beatles are one of the most legendary music groups ever. Not only were they the first Boy Band to steal the hearts of teenagers everywhere, they also changed the future of music with their rock n’ roll edge and trendsetting style. Their songs been covered by bands such as Aerosmith, Maroon 5 and Jason Mraz; even current bands such as One Direction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have taken the flare of the Beatles’ famous Abbey Road photo and transformed it for their own groups.
The music icons of prior eras have become legends for the future generations. Looking at the number of cover versions of classic songs alone shows the vast quantity of present music that can be credited back to idols of the past.
These legendary musicians set the standards for each of their respective genres. When searching for inspiration, aspiring artists need look no further than the marvels of previous decades. Despite the fact that many of these legends are no longer living, and the lack of media coverage for older performers, the impact they still have on audiences worldwide continues to grow. The raw talent that radiated from performers such as the aforementioned Etta James, to the Beatles, to Whitney Houston, will live on.