Every year, Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche covers one of the year’s biggest pop songs. He’s tackled Drake, Beyoncé, and a half dozen more. They tend to be slowed-down, beautiful and mellow covers of huge radio bangers. This year, he turned the choice over to readers of one of our favorite music blog’s, Stereogum. They voted for Ariana Grande’s “Into You” and, sure enough, Lerche delivered.
We get a lot of Ariana Grande covers submitted to us, and they tend to follow a formula: a young woman showcases her best arena-filling belt on YouTube. Like Mariah Carey before her, Ariana Grande songs offer an occasion to show off one’s vocal chops. Some of the belting is pretty good, but big, powerful singing doesn’t make an Ariana Grande cover any different than an Ariana Grande original. But now, finally, we have a musician taking a very different approach.
J Hacha De Zola hails from the town of Rahway, New Jersey and exhibits the state’s blue-collar work ethic: he’s already released two albums this year! And if that wasn’t enough output, he’s now got a bonus cut, his wild new cover of Grande’s “Bad Decisions.” It’s a wonderfully ramshackle production, a huge, swaying barroom roll somewhere between Tom Waits and the Pogues (longtime Waits saxman Ralph Carney in fact plays on his latest album, Picaro Obscuro). If you know Grande’s original, this cover is barely recognizable – and if you don’t the recording stands on its own.