Exploring the world of cover songs

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I’ve teased this type of post in the Best 5 review, and I need to write some more reviews (while working on an album review that will be published next month).

Covers. A popular type of song that refers to when an artist records/plays their own take of a song by another artist. A lot of artists started their journey by doing covers, mainly because they still didn’t have their own original material. Even Buta themselves started with covers!
Sometimes covers become massively popular and overshadow the original song (one of the most famous examples being Hurt by Johnny Cash, originally being a Nine Inch Nails song). And there are songs that still live to this day thanks to countless covers and renditions by other artists (and one could say that Touhou songs can be put into this category).

In the vast world of music outside of Touhou, there are plenty of artists who don’t like when other people cover their music. Reasons vary from “do your songs instead of taking other people’s work” to “I feel like my thoughts, my creations, have been stolen.” In general, they just feel protective of their music. Some cover artists might even do a better job than the originals, and yeah, most people credit and everything, but a good cover that surpasses the original can be seen as “musical appropriation”, if that is even a thing.

On the other hand, there are artists who love covers, seeing them as a pure form of love and gratitude towards the original creators. And BUTAOTOME can be definitely put into this category! Especially considering that they were heavily tweeting about this copyband event (whereas the other featured artists weren’t tweeting about it at all). Releasing instrumentals in an easily accessible way, having songs in karaoke platforms such as JOYSOUND and DAM, or releasing official tabs (sadly Buta doesn’t do that) are also ways to show that you are okay with covers/other people singing your song.

As for me, I’m not particularly interested in covers of Buta’s music, and while I do accept them as a form of love towards this wonderful circle, I can also be very critical. On one side, I didn’t like Kakoinaki yo wa Ichigo no Tsukikage by Shinra-Bansho due to how it felt very uncreative, especially compared to other covers from Touhou Utattemita (not to mention that they forgot to put Buta’s logo on the official website and they picked a song that conveniently had a character already represented in the album. Signs of a last-minute filler song IMHO). On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy the BUTAOTOME cover band from the above-mentioned copyband event due to making Buta sound like a generic male vocal band like many in the Touhou scene and not committing to their aesthetic (they weren’t wearing animal masks, and they didn’t have anything similar to Ane dancing on stage, not even a t-rex). I think being a purist is a common mentality among hardcore fans.

Now, what about The Pig covering other people’s songs? Well… covers are particularly rare in the Touhou music world, and they are usually limited to collab albums. Nearly all of BUTAOTOME’s covers of songs by other circles pretty much come from albums that all have covers/remixes of one specific song.

BUTAOTOME covers can feel extremely hit or miss. They tend to not be extremely creative with their covers, and sometimes they stick way too much to the original, as if they just wanted to satisfy a request for this or that collab album. Meme/denpa songs are probably the worst offenders of this category. And what happens when a group that is not prone to making funny songs makes a cover of a funny song? …yeah, the final result is not amazing. However, we also have some amazing covers from them, and I want to give them a deserved spotlight with today’s post!

For the sake of keeping this article salt-free, I will only talk about the covers I consider good and/or noteworthy. For any kind of negative opinion, I’ll just limit myself to saying that BUTAOTOME’s cover of Bad Apple!! feat. nomico falls at the very, very bottom of my personal ranking of anything they ever made. Anyway, let’s go through the “Covers/Remixes of other songs” section of the Other Songs page!

Ningen ga Daisuki na Kowareta Youkai no Uta (original by COOL&CREATE)
Yeah, COOL&CREATE can make good songs sometimes. I remember when I came across the original song back in 2010 and liked it. Being paired with a good tragedy-of-long-life PV also helped! So I was particularly happy when I first read the tracklist for C&C Hakurei Festival.
I consider this song to be BUTAOTOME’s best cover by a mile, and it supplanted the original song for me. It’s simply beautiful and melancholic, with the right amount of power on the refrains.

Kage no Densetsu remix
Is it right to include one of the very few instances of Comp making an arrangement of a non-Touhou song here? I don’t know where to talk about this song otherwise, and I honestly love it. It’s so full of energy and it makes me wish we could hear more remixes/arrangements of other videogame music with Comp’s unique instrumentation and style.

Scream out! (original by A-One)
I’m not a eurobeat fan (and I complain about eurobeat albums being released every event), but I occasionally do enjoy some songs, and Scream out! is certainly a classic.
Perhaps the Buta ver is not among the best here, but I consider it one of the most interesting ones, as it was arranged by Paprika. So now it has become Paprilicious! I like how it sounds stylish while also keeping the groove of the original!

Paranoia (original by DiGiTAL WiNG)
Oh, the DiGiWiNG classic… And I’ve just realized this song will turn 10 next month, oh noes!
While being “BUTAOTOME Hartmann arrangement n° 514” (I don’t want to see this theme arranged by Buta ever again), I really like this one! The song fits Buta’s chaotic and playful energy in a great way, the instrumental parts have been greatly adapted! Unironically one of their better Hartmanns lol
(btw, why is it called “Comp remix”? A remix implies it has the original vocals copypasted on a different instrumental, and this is a full band arrangement!)

ttewi! (original by Sekkenya)
Sekkenya’s classic!
And Buta’s version is a good one! I love the sexy bass at the beginning and the aggressive feel of the TEI TEI TEI parts (mainly given by the instrumental). Plus the pre-final chorus section with all the rising tension is simply amazing!

Stardust Dreams (original by Crest)
The original song kinda sounds like something Yuuhei Satellite could make…
Honestly, I don’t go crazy about this one. It sounds like Kyoai with different lyrics in some parts. It’s nice to hear Ranko doing a long note, and I love the bridge section!

And here we reached the end of the cover section. And… I want to admit one thing. Due to some of the covers not featured here being… not the greatest, every time I read “Super Popular Song (BUTAOTOME ver.)”, I always don’t have huge expectations. And sometimes I get surprised because while some covers are not amazing (such as Makkachin Kikaku’s Kimi ni Sasagu Shohousen – which I didn’t feature here because I don’t like the arrangement), they aren’t on the same tier as the bottom ones!

I honestly can’t think of any arrangement I would like to hear in Buta-style, partially because Touhou/doujin covers are still extremely rare, and often limited to popular songs (and most popular Touhou songs are meme garbage that will definitely sound bad as Buta ver). As a Touhou fan, it’s much more natural to think “hey, this ZUN composition is good, I hope my favorite circle will make an arrangement of it” instead. And Touhou arrangers are probably more prone to think “hey, this ZUN composition is good, I want to make my own arrangement of it”.

There is one particular quote by Prince (who was notoriously protective of his songs and image, and also not a fan of people covering his songs) that I would like to apply to a Touhou context:

I do pay performance royalties on others’ songs I perform live, but I’m not recording these songs and putting them up for sale. Why do we need to hear another cover of a song someone else did? Art is about building a new foundation, not just laying something on top of what’s already there.

from Billboard

Yeah, why do we need to hear another bland U.N. Owen remix? Some people even make CDs full of MIDI-swaps and sell them at events! Why cover Gensou no Satellite when you could just make your own Greenwich in the Sky arrangement? Touhou arrangements are all about being in any genre and mood you can think of (or rather, this is what we wish they are about…).

And that’s all for this post! It was originally just me talking about Buta covers, and then it evolved into a general talk about covers… What about you? What’s your stance on covers? Tell me your opinion in the comments! Feel free also to give me an example of a song you prefer covered by another artist, or just your favorite cover overall. As for me, I’ve been addicted to Morfonica’s QUEEN recently (although vocaloid covers are kind of cheating, I guess). For a non-weeby answer, I’ll go with Malagueña Salerosa by Chingon.

Now excuse me while I go listen to vocal cover n° 45510 of YOASOBI’s Idol while sacrificing VIVITs. I need to see a Buta tribute/cover band with a t-rex dancing on stage.

This was going to be the original picture of this post: an album that contains a cover song (Feeling Good) and the “relevant” chibi. I changed with the current (and relevant to this website) one at the very last minute!