We last encountered gothy alternative Liverpudlian duo King Hannah on their jammy cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper,” which we named the 41st Best Cover of 2021. Well, they’re back with another curveball cover of an even more iconic song. Scratch that. They’re back with two versions of a cover of an even more iconic song. Because why record one version of your cover of Madonna‘s”Like a Prayer” when you can record two?
King Hannah’s cover opens austerely, as the original does, but at a slower pace. There’s a pulsating organ under lead singer Hannah Merrick’s voice. They rearrange the verses so they are at the front of the song and so Merrick doesn’t get to the chorus until 90 seconds into the song. It’s only at this point that muted guitar and percussion begins to creep into the mix. At about 2:20, a full band takes shape around her and the organ, and the song opens up. The song and the mix build and then nearly everything cuts out with about 30 seconds left, with Merrick’s voice and organ cutting out entirely at the end, resulting in a much shorter song than the original. It’s almost funereal and an entirely different vibe from the celebratory original.
But that’s not what happens in the extended version. In the full version, it takes a little longer for the band to come in and the band doesn’t drop out until about the 4 and a half minute mark. Then it’s just Merrick’s voice and the organ again until they both drop out about half a minute later. And then, after a beat of silence, the jam kicks in, complete with guitar solo. It’s particularly fun listening to the extended version after the short version, as the jam is extra unexpected.
Both versions are fairly radical rethinkings of the song, though the extended version is all the more so. Check it out below: