In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
Yesterday we heard covers of songs where Timbaland is front and center. Today we learn which of our favorite tunes were co-written and molded by Timbaland’s signature production style. Again, there are too many hits to enumerate all of the songs he was involved in here, but feel free to explore further and trace Timbaland’s fingerprint through songs from the ’90s to the present.
Timbaland has been recognized for his behind the scenes work including three years’ worth of Songwriter of the Year awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, a Producer of the Year award from the BET Hip Hop Awards, and nominations for two of the five spots for Album of the Year in 2004.
We’ll see that Timbaland was extremely influential in launching new artists onto the music scene and helping pre-established artists change course in their musical style. Tomorrow we’ll see how Pharrell Williams and Timbaland worked together to create the ultimate re-branding…
Most of the world first heard Sam Smith via Smith’s vocal turn on English electronic duo Disclosure’s hit “Latch.” Smith has collaborated with them a couple times since, and now the partnership continues with Smith’s new cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” produced by Disclosure’s Guy Lawrence. The track doesn’t differ that much from the original, but Smith’s inimitable falsetto proves a perfect match for this disco classic.Continue reading »
As the only surviving member of the Temptations’ original lineup, Otis Williams has done his part to keep the group alive long past its expiration date. The latest incarnation of the famed vocal group recently released a cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” as the first single from their forthcoming album All The Time.
Just to be clear, this ain’t the Temptations of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” or “My Girl” fame, since the group is going for a more contemporary vibe. Listening to Smith’s original alongside the Temptations’ cover is a bit like hearing Hall & Oates “She’s Gone” next to the Tavares’ version. Or comparing Mott the Hoople’s cut of “All the Young Dudes” to David Bowie’s own take. At first listen, it’s difficult to tell the two tracks apart. Yet, once you start breaking the songs down, there are enough subtle differences that make the cover stand on its own.
The vocals in the opening verses of each track are the most similar. The Temptations give it a slightly different feel by adding in syncopated percussion, unlike the straight time from the original. As they sing the chorus, the group interjects a bit of call and response, which one expects from the Temptations. With each subsequent verse/chorus, they include heavier drums, different voices alternating between lead and backing vocals and a fiery blues-guitar accompaniment. Like Smith’s original, the cover is also infused with gospel, but the quintet adds more bass to the vocals throughout.
The track is not destined to land on any greatest-hits compilations. However, if the Temptations add it to their setlist, kids whose grandparents drag them to the shows will appreciate the effort.
If you are a fan of Elton John and all of his many reinventions, this is the time of your life. It started in late 2017 when Elton along with Bernie Taupin sponsored a worldwide YouTube contest to reimage videos for three of Elton’s most popular songs, “Bennie and the Jets,” “Rocket Man,” and “Tiny Dancer,. It continued with his announcement that his upcoming three-year tour will be his last. Suffice to say, our eyes and ears will be treated to various projects with the volume turned up to “all Elton, all the time” for the foreseeable future.Continue reading »