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What do you call a cover that changes the lyrics of the song, for example for a humorous effect (comedians or American late show hosts occasionally do that)? Is there a special term for that?

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A parody:

Parody music, or musical parody, involves changing or copying existing (usually well known) musical ideas, and/or lyrics, or copying the particular style of a composer or performer, or even a general style of music. Although the intention of a musical parody may be humour (as in burlesque), it is the re-use of music that is the original defining feature.

In music, parody has been used for many different purposes and in various musical contexts: as a serious compositional technique, as an unsophisticated re-use of well-known melody to present new words, and as an intentionally humorous, even mocking, reworking of existing musical material, sometimes for satirical effect.

(source: the Wikipedia article 'Parody music' – there's also an article about parody in general)

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  • What if a cover doesn't parody the song, or anything? Nov 30 '20 at 16:03
  • The cover doesn't need to ridicule the song itself to be called a parody.
    – Glorfindel
    Nov 30 '20 at 17:25
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The most common terms are "spoof" or "parody". Rarely, a "sendup".

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