Sometimes I despair at American contemporary music. Often, it seems that pop artists are too scared to unplug the synthesizers, lose the auto-tune and pay attention to pure vocals, inventive instrumentation and a good melody. So forgive me for being sentimental but allow me step over the pond to purvey the inventive new ways British artists are approaching live music.
The internet has brought massive changes to the recording industry. Easily accessible free tracks has meant that live music has become a valuable commodity. Artists and record companies are investing more in concerts and live music shows than ever. What’s transgressed is a buzzing live music scene with fresh new talent. Capitalizing on this live music craze, BBC Radio 1 has created the “Live Lounge” — an opportunity for established artists to make live recordings of contemporary covers. The Live Lounge is an hour long segment where established artists perform their songs – and, more importantly, covers of others’ songs – live on the radio. Starting in 2006, originally presented by Jo Whiley, now by Fearne Cotton, the Live Lounge has been a wildly popular part to Radio 1’s normal line-up. Recent hits have included Florence and the Machine’s cover of Beyoncé’s “Halo,” La Roux’s cover of the White Lies “Farewell to the Fairground” and even a Jordin Sparks version of Alicia Key’s “Fallin’.”
The Live Lounge sessions have definitely brought a new sound to Britain’s contemporary music scene. The ways so many artists have approached their peers’ songs has even created known hits. For instance, Winehouse’s cover of The Zutons’ 2006 song “Valerie” was spawned out of a Live Lounge Session in 2007. The Live Lounge seems to have captured the zeitgeist of live music covers quite nicely. It’s still going strong today, Jamie Sown recording a particularly heatbreaking rendition of Adele’s new single, “Someone Like You” for example. In an age where production and interpretation are valued as highly as original material, the Live Lounge has given a new opportunity to find a new sound. In other words, God bless.