Comparative Analysis of Song “Killing Me Softly” Original and Its Cover

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The music industry is increasingly experiencing a new era of remake music referred to as the cover of the music that is the copy of the original track or song. Originally, before the term cover came to use, a remake of the original song used to be known as the rival version of those above produced to compete with it. However, in contemporary society, the term cover has become common, and people are making song remakes at no limits. Additionally, there has been some of the original song makers who have suffered losses because of either the cover made of the same keeps selling more than the initial version. For instance, the song, “Killing Me Softly,” originally performed by Lori Lieberman and one of the best in early 1970’gained more fame in the later versions or rather covers. The cover version by Fugees won the 1997 Duo R and B song with vocal. Comparing and contrasting two songs specifically, a song and it’s remake demand certain criteria to determine whether there are differences or similarities. Therefore, these papers critically analyze the original and cover of the song above.

Lori Lieberman Original version of “Killing Me Softly,” Song

Lieberman is the original performer of the song, “Killing Me Softly,” which she with the help of Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox composed the lyrics from her poem she wrote that was from inspiration from Donald McLean Performance. She first performed it in the year 1971. However, there resulted in some controversy among Lieberman, Fox, and Gimbel concerning the song with the latter claiming to have pioneered the composition of the same but that did not take fame away. In the year 1973, the first remake of the song by Roberta Flack becomes the number one hit in the United States and the sixth in the UK Single Chart. This was a record that the original performer, Lieberman did not anticipate would come from the remake

Major Strengths and Traits

The song is a powerful composition and well thought out lyrics that opened a platform for other singers to cover it and make greater strides in the music industry. Were it not Lieberman’s effort, none of the artists would have made a cover from it. It is also, a response to the famous Don Mclean and in fact, Lieberman made it as a dedication for him after having been struck with awe of his performance. So she wrote it as a response to his lyrics as she had heard from his performance.

The song by Lieberman utilizes soft tune coupled with her beautiful voice makes it feel like a perfect love song. The instruments used in her song are mostly the guitar and piano as can be heard discretely from the background as she sings it. Its slow tunes are captivating and bring a calm and relaxing mood. She also maintains a flawless and calm voice throughout the song without having to strain at any point of its performance.

The Cover Song, “Killing Me Softly With His Song,”by Fugees

The Fugees was a three-member United States based group hip-hop and Reggae group that fame in the 1990s. The group has remade the song and performed it as a hip-hop/reggae, which eventually won the Duo a Grammy in 1996 by becoming the number one song in the UK Single Charts and the United States as well further breaking the both the Lieberman’s original record and Roberta Flack cover. The voices behind the success of the song are Wycliffe Jean, songstress Lauryn Hill, and Pras Michel who were both producers, rappers, and singer at the same time. The cover of the song became successful than any of the ever made.

Major Strength and Traits

The major strength from this particular cover is that it came in a time when the hip hop and Rhythm and Blues music was gaining fame and so was enticing to so many lovers of this particular genre. Also, the performer of this song cover had had experience in the use and integration of musical instruments and the fact that digital means were utilized to make beats and fine tunings in songs. Furthermore, the other strength that made the song become a major success is that unlike the earlier versions, it was performed by more than one singer. The Fugees being a group has the advantage over the single performer in terms of setting the vocals, backup, and incorporation of various aspects such as base, vocals, and soprano.

A good Cover versus a mediocre Cover

While good cover songs aim at improving the original one in terms of the appeal, mood, instrumentation, and lyrics, a mediocre one does the opposite such as using inappropriate lyrics. Again a good cover song always incorporates a new style much more than the original one and brings a new sense of identity, whereas, a mediocre remake utilize the same aspects that the original used to have or even much worse (E-Home Recording Studio). Remaking a cover with vigor, finesse, precision, confidence, and power is a good way to making a good song of the original. Regarding the cover song, Killing Me Softly in His Song, version by Fugees, the group introduces a new and unique style different from the original and more appealing as well.

This is made possible by the unique style of music instrumentations, style, and artist. For instance, the group utilized hip hop form beats sang as Duo group and did a modification of the lyrics respectively (Makower). This can be said to be an improvement of the original style because as much as the message may be the same, the artist never copied any other aspect of the original. Additionally, the cover version of the Fugees is also engaging and a little bit faster than the original, which makes the song conform to the nature of the instruments used and the right temple. If for instance, the group had maintained the original temple coupled with the high pitch of the beats, then the song would have come out worse that is the case.

Comparing Renditions

It is quite obvious the cover by the Fugees is the best compared to the original rendition. This is quite surprising because the notion is that the original is always the best in one way or the other, but in this case, the cover broke the record that the original had not meant all that was put into making the cover was a success. This can be attested by the fact that there is a significant advancement in the means of producing music between the time the original song was made and the time the cover came out (Makower, n.p). This is evidence from the kind of instruments utilized in making those above. The original song was limited to guitar and piano, which the producers tried to make it a success. However, the cover utilized even more sophisticated means of instrumentations that inevitably produced a much-improved version of the original. Furthermore, the latest rendition modified the lyrics that almost made it appear as a completely new song from the original, which brought significant improvement and did away with the mentality that it is after all not an original song.

Looking at the voice aspect, just as mentioned earlier, Lieberman had a good flawless, and amazing put into her original song. Voice is indeed very paramount in making a good song that is appealing to the listeners. In comparison, the cover had, as well the input of the songstress Lauryn Hill who takes care of this aspect and complimented that of the male singers to come up with a pleasant and amazing cover song (Makower n.p).

The original song utilizes both the first singular, plural and the second singular tense “our,” in an active structure with a couple of strong verbs. Likewise, the cover song employed the use of first and second person singular. However, there was no use of first plural tense making it a much easier structure. Mostly, songs are sung in the active voice which is quite important where the singer is part of the message and is directly affected by the actions in those above.

Conclusively, comparative analysis between the song Kill Me Softly originally performed by Lieberman and later on performed by the Fugees depicts music can be made better and not mediocre. For this case, the employment of various improvements in the kind of instrumentation, artistic styles, and lyrical modification are good ways to make a better remake of a song rather a mediocre one.

Works Cited

  1. E-Home Recording Studio. ‘How To Sing Better: 16 Strategies Your Vocal Coach Won’t Teach You’. E-Home Recording Studio, 2019, https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/how-to-learn-to-sing/.
  2. Fugees. ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’. 1996. Accessed 7 Feb 2019.
  3. Lieberman, Lori. ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’. 1971. Accessed 7 Feb 2019.
  4. Makower, Joe, and Richard Dyer. ‘“Killing Me Softly” Cover Song Analysis | Music Industry F16 Group 3’. Music16group3.Qwriting.Qc.Cuny.Edu, 2016, http://music16group3.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2016/09/30/killing-me-softly-cover-song-analysis/.

Cite this paper

Comparative Analysis of Song “Killing Me Softly” Original and Its Cover. (2021, Dec 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/comparative-analysis-of-song-killing-me-softly-original-and-its-cover/

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