The website secondhandsongs.com proves that in the music world, everything old is new again ... and again ... and again.
The Belgium-based site, launched in 2003 by brothers Bastien and Matthieu De Zutter and friend Denis Monsieur, is dedicated to collecting cover songs from around the world and building the largest database dedicated to these "recycled songs."
There are nearly 40,000 songs and 19,000 artists listed on the site, crisscrossing the American pop spectrum -- from Frank Sinatra covering Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" to Lindsay Lohan's take on Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me."
According to the site's statistics, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan are the top three covered songwriters and performers. The site also gives the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" the title of most remade song, with 117 renditions counted.
But what sets secondhandsongs.com apart as a cover-song site is the diversity of the music. The site's content is largely dependent on the preferences of the five editors and the suggestions of secondhandsong.com's nearly 5,000 daily visitors. "We are open to covers from all over the world," Bastien e-mails.
Search the lists to find songs by popular world artists virtually unknown in the U.S., such as France's Johnny Hallyday doing Otis Redding's "Du Respect" and the Netherlands' Marco Borsato singing Billy & The Beaters "At This Moment."
De Zutter and company try to remain unbiased about some of the songs that singers choose to remake. But he admits it can be difficult when comparing an artist like Jimi Hendrix, who made Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" all his own, and the possible industry decisions behind a Britney Spears remake of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll."
While we admit Britney singing Joan Jett may be bad enough, we'll just count our blessings that she didn't put out a dance-remix version of "Watchtower."
-- Christine N. Ziemba