Song covers. Some people, like me, love them. I love to see some of my favorite songs get turned around and done in a new way. I even enjoy covers of songs I may not necessarily know or like. Some people, however, hate covers. They don’t like their favorite songs being arranged or changed. They might think that covering songs is another form of plagiarism: stealing another person’s work and claiming it as their own. I disagree with this and believe that music should be interpreted in different ways. A wonderful example of how great covers can be is the rising group the Vitamin String Quartet.
Vitamin String Quartet, or VSQ, is composed of “a rotating collective of top classical musicians”. They are mainly known for their numerous covers of popular songs. The group formed in 1999 as an experiment, trying to transform the traditional rock song by using string instruments. The quartet typically consists of a violin, viola, cello, and bass, although other instruments have been used. If you aren’t a fan of classical music or string instruments, don’t let that stop you from listening to this group. Their covers of songs are so phenomenal and different that they do not follow the style of traditional string music. They manage to give you the same feeling of listening to the original while still putting their own creative spin on it. A great example of this is on their albums that perform the hits of each year. Their latest one, “VSQ Performs the Hits of 2013 (Vol. 1 and 2)” includes well-known tracks such as “Royals” by Lorde, “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark” by Fall Out Boy, and “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Each one sounds similar to the original, carrying the same style and flow. Typically, the violin or viola replaces the lyrics. They capture the lyrics of the original song so well that somehow you want to sing along. Each song, however, also carries its own unique twist. A great example of this twist is in their cover of “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men. “VSQ” does not only cover popular songs; the group also is known for their covers of movies. They have a whole album dedicated to “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, including a cover (“Jack and Sally Montage”) that was included in the official cover CD. They also have albums dedicated to the films of John Hughes and Wes Anderson.
If you’re not sure where to start with VSQ, try looking up your favorite artists. Their covers range anywhere from The Strokes to the soundtrack from the “Harry Potter” franchise. If you enjoy those covers, try listening to the aforementioned albums covering yearly hits. This group will truly prove to you how great covers and string instruments can be.
Similar artists to VSQ are The Piano Boys, 2Cellos, and Straight No Chaser. Both groups are known for their covers. All can be found on Spotify.