Yesterday, Dermot O’Leary (pictured above in a turtleneck, naturally) had four lovely singing ladies, dubbed his “Choir of Angels”, to spread the holiday cheers on his last radio show before Christmas. Rumer, Ren Harvieu, Emily Baker and Kristina Train (a Radio 2 super girl group right there) joined the host for a chat, then each offered their take on a holiday classic. Disney-noir songstress Ren Harvieu picked Joni Mitchell’s not-so-cheery “River”, which she pulled it off beautifully.
Fellow mellow chanteuse Rumer also chimed in with her own interpretation of Ron Sexsmith’s “Maybe This Christmas”, previously covered by Tracey Thorn.
You can listen to the whole session here if you’d like, starting around the 2:17:00 mark.
Intense, striking, dramatic – those are words often associated with UK songstress Anna Calvi‘s music, and the same applies to her covers. Last week, she paid a visit to Radio 1’s Live Lounge and delivered an impressive take on Beyoncé’s “Naughty Girl”. Through her crimson filter, what was otherwise an innocuously seductive Middle-Eastern-tinged R&B track now drips with dark, menacing undertones. There’s no doubt she can sure rock a mean guitar. Check out her interpretation below, and see the performance in motion here.
British newcomer Emeli Sandé made her debut Live Lounge session last Tuesday on BBC Radio 1 with Fearne Cotton. Instead of choosing to cover a current chart-topping hit like most would do, she picked the old school 1995 Blur single “Country House”, and it was a lovely moment. With some clever chorus swapping, she turned the jaunty original into a brooding affair, beautifully sung and interpreted.
Her album “Her Version of Events” drops this week in the UK, and is set to be number one come Sunday. If you are hoping a whole album in the style of “Heaven” and “Daddy”, then prepare to be disappointed, for they are red herrings. I guess either “Heaven” was meant to be the buzz “tastemaker’s single” that unexpectedly became her big break, or she and her team decided to go after Adele’s market rather than Katy B’s. It was not the album I expected, but it still is a strong, solid effort. I’ll save the details for a later post, as the album will reach our shores on June 5. For now, watch the video for her latest single “Next To Me” below.
Back in late 2010, when Lana Del Rey was still relatively unknown and blond, she made what was possibly her first European TV appearance on Mandio Diao‘s MTV Unplugged show. Backed by the Swedish rock band themselves, Lana gave an acoustic rendition of “Chet Baker”, an obscure 2007 b-side named after the jazz legend. The show was later released on CD/DVD, and footage of her segment has been floating around since, but I only managed to discover it a couple days ago. Her voice was a good fit for the jazz-tinged track, and it was certainly fascinating to witness the soon-to-be pop star in progress, just a year before the big break. Not that much has changed, vocally and aethestically. A lovely listen, anyhow.
What I find interesting is that Juliette Lewis, who previously tweet-bashed her SNL performance, was also a guest star on the same show. I wonder if she remembers that they might actually have met before?
“Born To Die” is out now worldwide.
Sky Feirrera might still be spending her sweet time perfecting her debut album, but she’s been appeasing the fans by sporadically posting snippets and demos on her Soundcloud. Her latest gift comes in the form of a raw, angsty acoustic piano cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans”, deliberately renamed as “Berlin Jeans”, referring to where it was recorded. Allegedly done in one take, it’s a far cry away from her fizzy electro-pop stuff. Despite sounding a bit rough during the middle eight, she did an admirable job with the song.
Sky’s album “Wild At Heart” is set to be released later this year, and that she’s been working with producer Jon Brion only fuels more Fiona Apple comparisons. While it’s quite disappointing that her old electro-pop materials get scrapped, I’m certainly intrigued by her new direction. She’s a very promising artist who well deserves a breakthrough. Check out her cover below and let me know what you think.
MP3: Sky Ferreira – Berlin Jeans (Lana Del Rey Cover)
Controversial rising popstar Lana Del Rey did her first ever UK radio session today for BBC Radio 6, joining Huey Morgan for a chat and performing acoustic renditions of “Video Games” and “Born To Die”. And yes, she sounds just fine and at ease with herself – not that this evidence will stop the online vitriol though, unfortunately. You can stream the full session and interview on BBC, but if you’re not UK-based and can’t access it, I have ripped both songs for your convenience. Listen and download the utterly lovely session below.
My modest advice for future live TV performances? Get a stool, honey. Maybe stand up for the last chorus – no one would see it coming. It works for Westlife after all.
When Lykke Li was on tour down under, she popped by Triple J HQ for an acoustic live session. For the station’s “Like A Version” segment which is basically an Aussie version of Live Lounge, she delivered a haunting cover of The Righteous Brothers‘ 1965 classic “Unchained Melody”. The perennially brooding Swede’s got that uncanny ability to sing like she’s alone in a cavernous cathedral, even if she’s just sitting comfily in a studio. With this melancholy performance, Lykke has officially joined the Melody cover club, previously inhabited by the likes of Gareth Gates, Clay Aiken and Air Supply. I quite like how she bluntly answered “No” when asked if she likes the movie “Ghost”. Lykke’s got no love for claymaking doomed lovers! Listen to her version below, and grab it for free if you like.
MP3: Lykke Li – Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers Cover)
It’s a well-documented fact that British pop songstress CocknBullKid enjoys covering songs. During her live session on Radio 2 with Jo Whiley, the self-proclaimed All Saints fan chose to pay her tribute by contributing her own version of “Pure Shores” to the station’s ongoing Great British Songbook project. And what a brilliant choice/sublime rendition it was! She totally breathed new life into the track. This is bringing back all the memories, bar the unpleasant reminder of how unbelievably shit the original music video was. That unfortunate setback couldn’t taint the classic William-Orbit-produced pop perfection, though. This is not the first time CocknBullKid showed her appreciation for late ’90s R&B either, having covered Destiny’s Child’s “Bills Bills Bills” with Eliza Doolittle before. Did you know Shaznay Lewis actually co-wrote the album track “Distractions”? Surely a duet between the two sounds like a good idea? I would also be genuinely interested in hearing her cover “Black Coffee” next, please. Either of those options would suffice, Anita, I’m not fussy!
You can download her amazing All Saints cover below.
UK’s mum-friendly pop crooner Will Young delivered a lovely piano cover of Kate Bush‘s classic “Running Up That Hill” for Dermot O’Leary’s Saturday Sessions on Radio 2 yesterday. His cover cemented the fact that he’s still one of Britain’s best contemporary male pop voices. His forthcoming album, the Richard-X-produced “Echoes”, will see him heading for a long-awaited dance-pop direction, and if lead single “Jealousy” is any indication, pop fans will be in for a real treat, even those who weren’t fans of his music before. You can download the balladry performance below. “Jealousy” drops on August 21, and the album follows a day later.
Radio 1’s Live Lounge seems to revolve around Robyn these days. A couple weeks ago, she was on the show to perform her new single “Call Your Girlfriend”, and now Noah And The Whale has picked it for their mystery cover. The alt-folk band totally transformed the ebullient original into a Tom Petty-style track. They shouldn’t have bothered changing the words though, it could make a cool twist. Stream/download their take below.
Noah And The Whale – Call Your Boyfriend (Robyn Cover)
I don’t have much to say about their own output, except that “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” was quite a guilty pleasure of mine.