I can't remember the word used to describe a song sung by someone else and not the original person. Anyone can help me on that one? Thanks.

  • 6
    You already give the answer in your title: such a song is known as a cover (version). Sep 15 '14 at 14:53
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, I maybe thinking of a slang term then? What happen was when I put up a Michael Jackson song, being sung by someone else, my co-worker said "this isn't MJ, it's a ...". She didn't use the word "cover"
    – MCHam
    Sep 15 '14 at 16:42
  • Possibly, if she likes Michael Jackson but not the cover version, she may have said something like clone, wannabe, copycat, etc.? Sep 15 '14 at 16:53
  • Did the singer sound like Michael Jackson, could only a fan have identified him as not being the "original"? A sort of vocal fake Michael Jackson. An imitator?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 15 '14 at 17:25

A cover is a new recording of a previously recorded song.


If the song is sung by a person or group that sounds like the original artist(s) and if that person or group performs primarily music of that original artist(s), they can be called either:

  • a "(famous artist such as Elvis) impersonator"


  • "tribute band" such as "Rolling Stones tribute band"
  • 1
    The first term I was going to suggest myself. I have another up my sleeve if and when the OP replies!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 15 '14 at 19:09
  • @Mari-LouA and Kristina, What if the song is not song by a band, like Michael Jackson. What would the word to describe that?
    – MCHam
    Sep 18 '14 at 20:19
  • @MCHam I'm not sure I understand, but I was going to suggest an "impressionist singer" and something else, slightly more obscure, but I've forgotten now. An impersonator tends to dress and act like a famous person. An impressionist mimics a famous person's voice and mannerisms.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 18 '14 at 20:38
  • That is what my first bullet point references: If the person primarily plays songs by that one artist (Michael Jackson, for example), in the style of that artist, they could be called a "Michael Jackson Impersonator". If they are singing a song by another artist but are not trying to look and sound like that artist, they can be called a cover artist - like this list from YouTube: thetoptens.com/best-youtube-cover-artists Sep 18 '14 at 22:36

"Rendition" is typically used in the context of classical music. It does not always imply 'not original' but in most usages it does.

Meaning: a performance or interpretation, especially of a dramatic role or piece of music

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.