Jersey City musical madman J Hacha De Zola has a knack for covering pop tunes. In the past few years, we’ve heard him cover Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, and Milli Vanilli. Only one thing unites those covers: They sound nothing like the original artists. No matter his source material, he’s more likely to invoke garage rock or Tom Waits than he is the Top 40 charts. And that holds on his latest, a wild reimagining of Harry Styles’ monster hit “As It Was” complete with pounding percussion, spooky vocals, and a big flamenco-horn finish.
It turns out the story behind it is almost as enjoyable as the cover itself, so I’ll let him tell it:
“Pop music is hard to emulate. It is performed by super-talented folks, with such dynamic, acrobatic vocal abilities, that attempting to emulate it is a tightrope act fraught with peril. I cannot say that I am a fan of popular music for the most part, but I understand why it is popular.
“This is another reason why I find attempting these covers to be so difficult. I like to force myself to do something that is uncomfortable for me. In the past, I have covered Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Lorde, and others. I would invite anyone to try to cover one of these songs!
“This time, I wasn’t sure who to cover, so I just Googled, ‘What is the biggest pop song of 2022?’ The search came up with ‘As It Was’ by Harry Styles. I had never heard a Harry Styles song in my entire life and if anyone would have told me a few years ago that I would be doing such a thing, I would have laughed.
“But I actually connected with the lyrics! I found them quite sad and bittersweet, especially these days after suffering the deeply personal loss of my mother. When you suffer such a personal loss, one often feels very alone coping with the pain. So I actually found the overall mood of ‘As It Was,’ particularly the hook, to be quite on point with how I have been feeling lately.
‘In this world, it’s just us, you know it’s not the same as it was’
Man, that really hit the spot for me.”
Check out J Hacha De Zola’s “As It Was” below.