Cookiefonster’s Tips and Tricks for Making Chiptune Covers

Here’s a blog post that’s a departure from the content I usually post here. If I was a normal person, I would make a video essay about how I make the 8-bit covers of music that I regularly post to my YouTube channel, but I don’t enjoy video editing at all, so I’m going to discuss all this in a blog post instead.

I’ve lately come to realize that my style of chiptune covers is very different from what most people doing chiptune on YouTube go for: instead of making a reinterpretation of a song based on simple chiptune instruments, my covers are made on a basis of translating songs to Famitracker as faithfully as I can. Though I used to be a big fan of chiptune covers of all kinds, I now strongly gravitate towards such translation-based covers because it’s incredibly impressive when the overall feel of a song, whether it be hectic, dramatic, funky, or relaxing, is recreated within the limitations of an NES console (or more often, expansions thereof). It’s also because I enjoy transcribing other music much more than making my own music, so in a way these covers are really just transcriptions under constraints. A lot of people really enjoy this style of covers I do, and I myself think I have improved by enormous amounts since I started doing chiptune covers in 2016. So I thought it would be fun to make a blog post list my personal tips and tricks for translating music into chiptune form.

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Weezer (Teal Album): Album Review

Today Weezer surprise dropped this album:

Seemingly playing off the popularity of their cover of “Africa” by Toto, this album opens with that cover and consists entirely of the band covering various popular songs, mostly 70’s and 80’s hits. And I have mixed feelings on this album.

For the longest time, I was familiar with many of Weezer’s songs but wasn’t aware of the band as a whole. My parents had to tell me many times that “Island in the Sun” was by Weezer and not Cake until it was drilled into my head. I got kind of but not really super into Weezer in early to mid 2018, where I realized many of their songs I already knew but didn’t know they made. Shortly after that point, I realized the band has their own very distinct personality, with their songs covering naive childish topics in this overdramatic, sincere way. I tend to catch on to bands’ personalities because Cake, my favorite band, has a very distinct “we don’t care, we’ll do what we want” personality.

I was there for the release of Weezer’s cover of Africa, which is notable mainly for the story behind it: some teenage girl really wanted them to cover that song, and they actually did it. The end result is a little odd, but different enough from the original and good enough to be a worthy piece of music, even considering that Africa is already a song that everyone loves. Weezer covering other hits has a lot of potential, and when their cover of Africa came out I’m sure it felt to many like scratching the surface; what if Weezer brought their personality into other popular hits? The way they did it and their choice of songs is a little weird to me.

The most prominent genre of music is 80’s pop, which makes sense considering how they clearly wanted to make similar covers to Africa. Those covers are done in a roughly similar style to their cover of Africa, and I’m not a big fan of how they seemingly decided to go the route of “hey, let’s do more covers similar to our cover that has a really funny story behind it”. 

Most of the other covers on the album are of older rock music, again done roughly like the Africa cover for the most part; if not in that style, usually done as typical rock music. The covers themselves are decent for what they’re worth and are very faithful to the original songs, which is a good thing because I’d almost worry they would have destroyed the appeal of those songs and made them more generic, but also a bad thing because these covers don’t have much of their character in them. None of the covers really stand out to me, except for one: the album closer, a cover of Ben E. King’s Stand by Me.

Stand by Me is by far my favorite song on the album. It replicates the mostly acoustic original song but with many more guitars and rock elements, and works in Weezer’s character masterfully, ultimately leading to a much different song from the original. This cover represents what the whole album could have been like. 

I wish this album was more like the final song instead of “Weezer Africa but it’s a whole album”. It’s not a bad album, just a somewhat underwhelming “this is exactly what I expected” experience for the most part. I’d recommend this whole album if you really liked their cover of Africa, but if you like Weezer in general, Stand by Me is easily the one most worth listening to.