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In popular music, a cover version or cover song, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording of a previously recorded, commercially released song by someone other than the original artist or composer. A cover version can also refer to a rerecording of a song by the original artist or performers under a different record company.

Originally, Billboard and other magazines that track the popularity of musical artists and hit tunes measured the sales success of the published tune, not just recordings of it. Later, they tracked the airplay that songs achieved, some cover versions being more successful recording(s) than the original song(s).[citation needed] Cover versions of well-known, well-liked tunes are often recorded by new or up-and-coming artists to achieve initial success when their unfamiliar original material would be less likely to be successful. Before the onset of rock 'n' roll in the 1950s, songs were published and several records of a song might be brought out by singers of the day, each giving it their individual treatment. Cover versions could also be released as an effort to revive the song's popularity among younger generations of listeners after the popularity of the original version has long since declined over the years.

In previous generations, some artists made very successful careers of presenting revivals or reworkings of once-popular tunes, even out of doing contemporary cover versions of current hits. Musicians now play what they call "cover versions" (the reworking, updating or interpretation) of songs as a tribute to the original performer or group. Using familiar material (such as evergreen hits, standard tunes or classic recordings) is an important method of learning music styles. Until the mid-1960s most albums, or long playing records, contained a large number of evergreens or standards to present a fuller range of the artist's abilities and style. (See, for example, Please Please Me.) Artists might also perform interpretations ("covers") of a favorite artist's hit tunes for the simple pleasure of playing a familiar song or collection of tunes.

cover band plays such "cover versions" exclusively.

watch this amazing 12 year old child singer with some of the most popular videos on youtube  

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Music videos and cover songs