Happy Belated Christmas. I think this is a relevant post to start my blog with as it’s involving something that I haven’t had too much experience with prior to the latest holiday season.
Here are the musical links relating to this post:
All I Want for Christmas (Cover)
Silent Night (Cover)
Happy Xmas War is Over (Cover)
Having not really ever thought about doing song covers, I ventured into it with a bit of a blank gaze last December. I have a friend that was hinting at the possibilities of me doing covers for various songs and that kind of sparked the initial thought of going ahead with them, at the same time my Dad asked me to make a few covers for Christmas and POW! the idea was solid.
Choosing the covers themselves was quite easy – the first was just a random search on youtube to see what came up first when I typed in “Christmas Song” – All I Want for Christmas Is You by Walter Afanasieff and Mariah Carey . Being the first cover I have ever done, I’m pretty sure there was a lot I could learn from the project, and a lot there was! Firstly, I didn’t honour the lengthy intro that Mariah established in the original. Just a bar of the piano playing a melodic octave interval was worked out as I concentrated my efforts on the music surrounding the vocals. From this I have now learned that the whole original score should be taken into consideration and more thought-out choices should be made when beginning a cover. This may seem rather obvious, but it is so simple to skip over the intro when you’re passionate about getting into the guts of a song.
The second wall I hit was that I didn’t have a jingle bell sound in any of my samples. I overcame this particular problem by simply using various metal sounds from the East West Symphonic Orchestra library. I have since then bought the platinum edition of Symphonic Orchestra and to my surprise, I now have a lovely jingle bell sample that I will be using for this coming Christmas.
Another problem was the lyrics and general melody of the song. There were several versions on the internet and not really being a fan of the original song, I wasn’t too sure which lyrics were correct. I also wanted to make the song my own, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to change melody without upsetting the song’s balance and public opinion. I ended up keeping most of it the same and only really changing the melody of the bridge to ‘haniaize it’ :) I’m very much into epic melodies and it was a section of the song that I wasn’t too keen on from the beginning so I thought that if I altered that part, it would create a new spin on the song without damaging too much of it’s original self – therefore, people listening in could still recognize it from the beginning and then would have a pleasant surprise 3/4ths of the way through.
After this was posted on Newgrounds.com, I was approached by a few people asking for more covers – Silent Night and Happy Xmas War is Over by John Lennon were two I completed and uploaded. There was also a 4th song that I covered but I missed my chance at uploading it around Christmas – so it will be uploaded to Newgrounds for Christmas in July :)
Silent Night was so much fun to create – I really went from one extreme to the next with this song. If you take a listen, you’ll hear the 2nd verse plunge into a minor key, heavy keys of the piano really release a dark visual in my opinion.
With regards to John Lennon’s ‘Happy Christmas (war is over)’ , I really stuck to a simplistic use of vocals to accent the lyrics without clouding them with oodles of harmonies. Also there were only three instruments throughout the song to keep the simplicity consistent – I think the original speaks so clearly and I wanted to stick with covering what was most important. Although I love epic and bombarding the heart strings, I didn’t feel it needed that to accomplish the task.