Jan 182021

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing"

Hot Chocolate’s career actually started with a cover. They covered John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” in a reggae style, but had to go through Lennon himself to get approval. Although Hot Chocolate then went on to have a stable career of hits in the UK in the ’70s, “You Sexy Thing” is the standout. The song has helped sell products from the Double Whopper to cameras and cars, and it’s been featured in many movies and TV shows. It’s become iconic.

However, this song was originally a B-side track when it was released in 1975. Big mistake, huge! Once re-released as a remix, it took off. It was even headed for the top spot in the UK, but an obscure song beat them there. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” ever heard of it? How did they know this song would “be the one” to stand the test of time? It ended up being the only song to stay in the UK top ten across the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

Whether you believe in miracles or not these days, let’s hear five different takes on this unabashed tune.

 Stereophonics – You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate cover)

This cover starts simply, but don’t get lulled by its initial sad undertones. Within 30 seconds that funk-twang we know and love is in full force. Elements like the faint harmony on “Where did you come from, angel?” and just enough background “oohs” maintain the heart of the original. The Stereophonics bend tradition though by blending rock and funk, subtly at first, then with a few short guitar solos creeping in. As the song ends they go full rock and roll, closing with a short jam session that departs from the original completely.

Marcia Rutledge – You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate cover)

Marcia Rutledge was a school psychologist and jazz singer who self-released a cover album that contains this gem. She’s certainly got the groove. This cover features a changing lineup of accompanying instruments that pair with the ever-steady bass. Rutledge switches from synth keys to a more traditional jazz piano, showing off in the middle before switching back. It’s a bit of mishmash of sounds, but it all comes together to keep you entertained.

 Caleb Hawley – You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate cover)

This is a different take on the song that starts off with a slower, plodding, and deep beat that is slightly reminiscent of the iconic opening to Ginuwine’s “Pony.” Transition sounds like crickets and a mix of humming and music box sounds run through and often act as builders of anticipation before Hawley goes for the falsetto. These stretches come at strategic times, including the pivotal “Where did you come from, angel?” moment.

 The Ruminaters – You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate cover)

Now the Australian band The Ruminaters bring us back to a more traditional instrumentation, but the rhythm of the words is changed pretty dramatically. The different pacing in the lyrical delivery reminds me of slam poetry: that pause between “sexy” and “thing,” the full stops in “where. did. you. come from. baby.” The words then become syncopated with the steady background funk line.

 Zella Day – You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate cover)

Zella Day’s smoky voice kicks us off and you can almost hear the pout in her voice. The music video is self-aware, though. This is how we are really consuming “You Sexy Thing,” dancing around as “one of those lonely people” and belting out “I believe in miracles!”  Just like Day at the end, you’ll be humming the tune the rest of the day.

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