Soul diva Aretha Franklin has a new album coming out called ‘Aretha Franklin Takes on the Great Diva Classics’, and if you haven’t figured out the theme of the record by now, it’s basically her covering songs by other divas. Yesterday, her cover of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep was released online, and it sounds a little something like this.
Now, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m on drugs as I’m nursing a cold right now, but I do not like this version. I even listened to it twice you guys, and I still felt the same way about it. Is it the fact that a brilliant singer like Aretha used autotune on a track? Maybe. Is it because she over-dramatizes the phrase ‘rolling in the deeEEEEEEEEP’? Probs (you should hear me trying to imitate her singing right now). Is it because the Adele version is so perfect that it’s hard to top, even if you’re Aretha Franklin? Obvs.
The song just came out, so I’m not sure what all the people are saying about it, but here’s my unpopular opinion against it. I’m obviously no music critic, so haters that may be reading this right now, take that with a grain of salt. Aretha is obviously one of the greatest vocalists of all time, but sometimes, it’s just better if you don’t fix what’s not broken. I get that she wanted to give it her own twist and make it different enough from the original that it stands out, but this was just too much. It actually sounded like she was trying a bit too hard. But if it’s any consolation, every singer must go through this complex. They think they can sing one way and that it will turn out a certain way but when you take a step back, it’s not exactly what you had hoped for. The kids on American Idol have been struggling with this since season one. ‘Make it your own’ Randy said. ‘It’s too karaoke’ Simon said. It’s hard to find a balance between the two, but when a singer does find the right combo, it’s perfect.
Speaking of American Idol, someone who’s amazing at covering songs without butchering them is Kelly Clarkson, who spent an entire tour taking requests from fans and singing one cover a night. She decided to tackle Adele’s Someone Like You while in Australia, and the result was a fitting tribute to the great song Adele made but also sounded like a straight up Kelly Clarkson track, if that makes any sense.
While Aretha puts too much ‘Aretha’ in her cover, Kelly doesn’t overdo it by putting too much ‘Kelly’ into it. I love you Aretha, but maybe pull back a little on the drama. Yes, I know that’s basically what she’s known for, but it works much better and is much more impressive when she does it on her own songs. By the way, in case you’re wondering, some of the other divas Aretha covers on her new album include Barbra Streisand’s People and Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U. I’m going to take a moment to let that sink in.
But back to Rolling in the Deep. The other big reaction I had from listening to this song was that it only made me yearn for more Adele. She has such a unique and wonderful voice that just can’t be replaced. Aretha did her thing, Kelly did a great job, but there’s nothing quite like the original. I need her to come out of her baby cave and release a new album. An EP would even suffice. Hell, do what Beyonce did and put your son in the record – I just need to never hear Aretha scooping up for notes in autotune ever again.