Are Nigerian Artists today making music worth covering? by Rotimi Fawole

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Does it ever happen to you that you catch the last chorus of a song you haven’t heard since you were a child, and because of all the memories that accompany the song, you google it, wikipedia it, youtube it, repeat the video 50 times and discover that it was covered by quite a few artists? Then you listen to all the different versions and see how each person made the song unique to them? No? Ah, just me then.

The song that’s most recently done this to me is “You’ve got a friend”. The song was originally done by Carol King in 1971 and has been covered by at least 10 other artistes since. Apparently, it was also recorded by James Taylor in 1971 and both King and Taylor won grammies for the song in the same year.

I found myself wondering today, whether that’s the mark of a truly great song. Your peers pay you the greatest amount of respect by doing your song and decades letter musicians still think the song is good enough to include on their album. And there are many songs like this – in the days of dixieland jazz, you had Nat King ColeElla Fitzgerald, Louis ArmstrongFrank Sinatra and Dean Martin (to name a few) all cover each other’s songs. Songs like Mack the Knife, Cheek to Cheek, Ain’t Misbehaving and Nature Boy.

Inching closer in time, The Beatles wrote so many great songs, they’ve been covered more times than a newborn baby in  winter. Other well-covered songs include Bill Withers‘ Lovely Day, Simon and Garfunkel‘s Bridge Over Troubled WaterDionne Warwick‘s Walk on By, Stevie Wonder‘s AS (actually Stevie is very heavily covered too), and the list goes on quite a bit. And let’s not talk about Michael and Elvis who people not only cover but actually have acts making a living from aping them.

MTUME – Juicy Fruit – Official Video (1983)

The Notorious B.I.G. – Juicy (1994)

Mtume’s Juicy Fruit has also been covered by no less than 30 other artists

Today, I had 3 versions of You’ve Got A Friend on heavy rotation – Carole King’s, Don Williams’ and James Taylor’s and I got to thinking if any of the songs we’re jamming today will ever be covered. I know rappers will always look in the archives for hooks to sample but how many songs today will be worth redoing in 3 years? Narrowing the scope of the question, how many Nigerian Artistes (apart from 2face, obviously) write songs that anyone would want to redo in future? Nigerian songs from the past like Iyawo Asiko, Osondi Owendi, Bottom Belle, Joromi, Mo fe Mu’yan, have been covered by today’s stars.

Dr Victor Olaiya ft 2Face – Baby Mi Da

Are Nigerian Artists today making music worth covering?

Rotimi Fawole

Rotimi Fawole

Rotimi is a lawyer whose practice areas over the years have been largely within corporate/commercial and intellectual property law. He’s a music lover, plays the guitar and the piano and supports the Arsenal. His other musings can be found on texthelaw.wordpress.com and he tweets from the handle @texthelaw.

9 comments

  1. I’ll say Darey, Banky used to. Then there’s Asa and Nneka. Jeremiah Gyang for sure but I know what you mean. The Dammy Krane, dbanj, wande, Wizkid types then the answer is a resounding NO!

  2. it is easy to point fingers. what are you bloggers doing to circulate the good music? or find it? you and I know blogs and radio stations, these days, belongs to those who can afford it. let us hear word…

  3. Today Nigerian Musicians are there for the money and celebrity status not for love of music, otherwise they would have been paying more attention to the song lyrics and melody too, Many of them have no message, so what can you hold on to. In these days of computer assemblage of rhythms everyone has turned into a musician, promoting mainly the obscene believing that, that is music. Just rap some nonsense with some rhythms, you have become a musician. I hope interested Nigerians can do something about this by forming entertainment companies that search out talents and train them in the art of singing and dancing too. I admire the South Koreans for doing this so well. Today the Korean idol singers are mesmerizing the entire world with their music, but they also put in a lot of hard work before coming out on stage. Let us pay more attention to this. Catch them young

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