Hit ParadeSlate

Hit Parade: Gotcha Covered Edition

A smash remake of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” has reminded us of the power of cover songs. But why are hit covers so rare today?

Cover songs once had a simple playbook: Artists would faithfully rerecord a song—note for note and word for word. They might modernize the instrumentation. If they were feeling radical, they’d punch up the vocals a bit.

Now it’s hard to say what a cover is anymore. If Ariana Grande turns “My Favorite Things” into “7 Rings,” does that qualify? When Drake says he’s “Way 2 Sexy,” is he covering Right Said Fred?

The recent chart success of “Fast Car”—country star Luke Combs’ very traditional take on Tracy Chapman’s folk classic—has reinvigorated interest in cover songs. Sometimes, isn’t just remaking the song as-is enough?

Join Chris Molanphy as he explains the chart considerations and artistic motivations that rebooted the cover song, and whether a straight-up remake will ever top the Hot 100 again. We’re long past the days of “Twist and Shout,” “Venus” and “I’ll Be There.”

Podcast production by Olivia Briley.

Content retrieved from: https://slate.com/podcasts/hit-parade/2024/03/what-fast-car-by-luke-combs-tells-us-about-the-art-of-the-cover-song.