Galaxy of Covers; Showing the Data

“Honoring the evolution of the 50 most popular cover songs of all time.”

Galaxy of Covers Description

Galaxy of Covers is a project looking at the evolution of songs and their cover songs over the past 50 years.

Tania Boa, Ilya Boyandin, Mark Hintz, Jan Wächter, and Benjamin Wiederkehr are responsible for the research, concept, design, and development. Created by Interactive Things, a digital design studio in Zürich, Switzerland, this project creates a visualization of cover music. 

“Our most beloved songs have a longer history than we might think. They might exist in hundreds of alternative versions created by other artists in distant decades. Those versions can differ in character and style and reach completely different audiences. We looked closely at the 50 most popular cover songs as well as the original works. Galaxy of Covers is the result of this analysis and allows you to explore the evolution from idea to recording.”

Using creative and innovative visuals, the data appears as a solar system with the covers orbiting around the Sun, or the original song in this case. This is a beautiful example of data visualization. This view shows each version of the song with the appearance of the ‘planet’ or cover song correlating to it’s characteristics. Shown by size, spead, diameter, and shape, they are able to represent popularity, tempo, valence, energy, and speechiness of each song. 

The data comes from several sources including the following.

  • BBC: List of 50 most popular cover songs.
  • Echonest: Information on tempo, valence, energy, and speechiness.
  • Spotify: Information on popularity.
  • Secondhand Songs: Information on cover version, artist, and date.
  • Whosampled: Information on music genre.

Their data showed quite a lot about how artists take songs to whole other levels. 

Through their research, they’ve found that Rock dominates the style that covers are done in with 41%. The genres that follow include Soul/Funk/Disco (19%), Jazz/Blues (13%), Country/Folk (9%), Instrumental (7%). Classical (4%), Electronica/Dance (2%), Reggae (2%), Hip Hop/Rap (2%) and Other (1%).

Galaxy of Cover Songs

“Got to Get You Into My Life” by Leo Brouwer, and reggae including “Light My Fire” by UB40.

But other is always an interesting genre because it’s odd and unique. The other category includes covers like “Mad World” by Wise Guys, “Song to the Siren” by Charlotte Martin and “Your Song” by No Strings Attached.

Check out these covers and so much more right here.

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