Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Pat Boone Syndrome


Something wonderful happened. I was hanging out with a bunch of my music snob friends, and we were doing the only thing that music snobs do: arguing. Somehow the conversation turned to good and bad covers, and I dropped the name Pat Boone.

My friends changed the subject immediately, not wanting to appear unhip, but I could tell from their faces that they had no idea who Pat Boone was. Now this was a wonderful moment for two reasons, first and most important I knew something that my friends didn’t. That’s the reasons that music snobs wake up in the morning. Second, and it gives me great pleasure to say this, Pat Boone has been forgotten.

However, new “artists” have come to follow the business model that Pat Boone did so well with. Bands like Framing Hanley, with their cover of Lil’ Wayne’s “Lollipop” or I Set My Friends on Fire with their version of “Crank Dat Soulja Boy” have kept his exploitative torch burning. True neither of this bands have reached the fame of the artists they’re covering, but both Framing Hanley and I Set My Friends On Fire are known only for covering these songs, and nothing else. And if Myspace and Youtube hits mean anything, these bands capitalized on a very lucrative thing.

But Pat Boone Syndrome is not as simple as just covering another artist’s song. Many, many artists have done great things with other people’s music, giving new perspectives or new emotions, creating interpretations that add to what the song has to say. Pat Boone Syndrome has none of these endearing qualities. Artists that suffer from this ailment perform songs in a way that is safer than their original versions and less complicated, adding nothing to the content of the song. Listening to The Flying Burrito Brothers perform “Do Right Woman” will give a completely different, but equally intricate, impression than Aretha Franklin’s interpretation. It adds to the range of the song without distorting its intentions. However, James Taylor’s version of “How Sweet it Is” is a slap in the face to both Marvin Gaye and Holland/Dozier/Holland. It turns a proud, joyous anthem into a milquetoast jingle.

But I was reassured by my music snob friends. If they don’t know who Pat Boone is, the rest of the musicians who follow in his footsteps will be forgotten just as quickly. It’s comforting to know that Pat Boone Syndrome isn’t permanent, that time will clear it right up.

LORENZO WOLFF is a musician living in New York. He can be reached at:


LORENZO WOLFF is a musician living in New York. He can be reached at:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”