If any of you guys are like me, you love instrumentals and give a ton of importance to them. The instrumentation is the foundation of any song, and when that’s lackluster, it takes a lot of work from the melody to hold up the song. However, like any “rule” of the universe, exceptions exist, and succeed being so–like Junsu‘s “11AM.” Most of the time though, things don’t work out in the artist’s favor, and a poor backtrack is usually the fastest way I get turned off from a song.
That said, piano/guitar covers of pop songs are really popular–so is it okay to throw melody for instrumentation? Sure, if you’re Nell:
“Run” and most of Nell’s work is not so interesting when it comes to the melody as a standalone. A lot of rock/alternative music works this way; they put more effort into the band than the melody, just because that’s where the dynamics are. On the other hand, in pop music, it takes a lot for an artist to get rid of the melody and still have something compelling. For example, Girl’s Day‘s “Expectation” doesn’t have an instrumental that stands for itself, despite having a great full track.
But piano covers are quite magical, as they defy these trends. Piano renditions of pop songs are fabulous despite having nothing to listen to but a single instrument. No drums, no synths…you’d think it would be boring as heck, but they are the some best renditions of a song. I guess the most reasonable explanation for the depth found in these covers is that the time piano has developed as a musical instrument and the huge influence of classical music has given piano ample foundation for creating music that speaks to people. There’s something organic and intimate about it–like you can feel the presence of the pianist through the recording.
It’s not something most would think about, but 10 fingers give you the freedom to embellish a song in ways pop music rarely lets itself do in its original form. Reynah here has done a fabulous job with her piano version of XOXO (Repackaged); it’s honestly one of the best things I’ve heard in a while. I love how she doesn’t just cover the song, but uses her musical talents to build upon the work of others. She (he?) also does a ton of Shinee covers as well, plus some other SM artists. Scattered among that are K-indie and Disney songs. Check out her soundcloud channels for more.
(Soundcloud, SM Entertainment)