Daily Archives: November 14, 2014

Adele’s signature song mangled by Queen of Soul



This track would be great for three things:



  1. If I had never heard any music before
  2. If I didn’t have good taste in music (while I understand this is debatable given some of the tracks I have written about lately, the statement still stands).
  3. If it didn’t segue Ain’t No Mountain


Cover albums seem to be part and parcel of the musical landscape these days, especially with legacy artists. While I don’t dislike cover versions, some of my favourite tracks are covers, the idea of this kind of covers album repulses me a bit. After looking at the tracklisting I initially think ”Who’s idea was this? Did Sony get call her and say ‘Hi, can I speak to the Queen of Soul please? Oh good you’re at home. Right we’ve got an idea about you recording these 10 tracks. What do you think?’ or did she rock up at the offices one day, march into the head of RCA’s office, kick the door of the hinges plan the tracklist on the desk and say ‘I want to cover these tracks, and you’re going to put it out, yeah?’ ”. Sadly it’s probably somewhere between the two.



Anyway let’s go to this monstrosity. When I clicked play, I had to double check that I was playing the right track as it sounds just like Survivor’s ‘classic’ Eye of the Tiger. Then Franklin’s vocals kick in and I realise that I am listening to the right track. Musically they stick to the original fairly faithfully, but because of the bombastic arrangements, it loses all of the emotion and charm that the original had. What makes the original so striking is that it’s Adele’s voice carries the song. The instrumentation is sparse. Drums, piano, guitar and bass and they work around the outside of the song, and let Adele’s vocals soar. The backing singers are used almost sparingly and they never get in the way of a great song.



It appears that while approaching this new arrangement, they have ignored the simplicity of the original, and just bunged everything into the mix. While I understand that Franklin is used to working with the best musicians in the business, their over complicating the song helps to add to its downfall. Compared to the original this is overbloated tosh. Franklin had one of the best voices ever, but on this you can hear how time has ravaged it. This is most obvious on the big power notes. She can’t quite hit them as she once could, as the backing singers are pushed higher in the mix to try and cover this up. Which makes all her warbling even more annoying. But this isn’t the worst thing about the track. On no. About halfway through, very subtlety at first, a disco vibe starts to come through. At first you brush it off as Franklin’s producers having now idea about what’s current and popular, but then BAM the song switches into a full on disco track and skews into a cover within a cover (meta eh?) or Ain’t No Mountain. This works even less than Rolling in the Deep does. In fact it doesn’t really make sense. Why ruin two tracks instead of one? I guess the answer is because you can.



Um, sorry about that. I have rambled on long enough, just like the track. Ultimately this song is awful, and shows the gulf between what someone thought was a good idea and an actual good idea. What Franklin, and her producers, should have done is worked out why the song works, and concentrated on those elements, rather than making the backing music louder and more complicated than it needed to be. Ultimately Rolling in the Deep is a modern blues song. If Franklin had performed a stripped, intimate version it would have been far more enjoyable than what we have been given.



Aretha Franklin – Rolling In The Deep (The Aretha Version)



November 2014