Whether it’s Arctic Monkeys covering Girls Aloud or Ben Howard taking on Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’, there’s been some weird and wonderful moments in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. 2017 sees Radio 1 celebrating 50 years of radio and with that they made this September the biggest Live Lounge month yet. We had our ears by the radio the whole way and whittled the performances down to the best few.
Foo Fighters kick things off in style
September is Foo Fighters month. In the space of one month they began Radio 1’s epic Live Lounge month from their LA base, released their ninth studio album, headlined London’s O2 and even set up their own pub. ‘The Sky Is A Neighbourhood’ is the first time the Foos have incorporated backing singers onto a track so what better time to perform it than to start of Live Lounge proceedings?
The XX take on JT
It may seem impossible to make Justin Timberlake seem any slicker than he already is but then The XX came into the Live Lounge and covered not one, but two of his hits. Merging ‘My Love’ and ‘LoveStoned’ from 2006 album ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’, it’s a pity this didn’t come in time to be performed on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage in June. By the sounds of Jamie XX’s impressive beats on the cover it may well become a fixture in their live sets.
Thirty Seconds To Mars tackle five legends in one song
The XX merging two tracks may have been impressive but 24 hours later Thirty Seconds To Mars were in combining five tracks into one tribute song for musicians we’ve lost in the past two years. Jared Leto showed off his range of vocals singing; David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’, Linkin Park’s ‘Crawling’, Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ and George Michael’s ‘Freedom’ over the top of an acoustic guitar and backing choir.
Jay-Z’s tribute to Chester Bennington
The tributes don’t end there. Perhaps the most poignant of all performances in Live Lounge month came from Jay-Z who dedicated ‘Numb/Encore’ to Linkin Park singer, Chester Bennington after his death earlier this year. The pair had worked on the track, combining lyrics from Linkin Park’s 2003 single ‘Numb’ and ‘Encore’ by Jay-Z. The rapper lets Bennington’s vocals play out and points to the sky before speaking to BBC Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo and explaining how he hoped the singer’s death would spark a wider discussion about male mental health.
Harry Styles covers Fleetwood Mac
Don’t ever cover the greats they say but try telling Harry Styles that. The former Directioner has gained more respect since ditching dance moves for rhythm and blues and his debut album released earlier highlights his range of respectable music taste. His cover of Fleetwood Mac classic ‘The Chain’ gives the Dunkirk hunk a chance to show off his husky vocals and continues to prove our past opinions of him wrong.
Royal Blood get the knack of it
Royal Blood know what they can do and boy do they do it well. They chose to cover The Knack’s hit ‘My Sharona’ on their visit into the Live Lounge, making it sleeker and sexier than ever before. Most of Radio 1’s listeners, along with the Brighton duo themselves, weren’t even born when the track was released in 1979 but the catchy riff will be left ringing in ears after this explosive rendition.
Brandon Flowers blossoms as Bowie
After Thirty Seconds To Mars, The Killers became the second band to cover Bowie in the Live Lounge with their funk-filled cover of the White Duke’s ‘Fame’. Flowers nails the wails of ‘Fame’ but for most of the song lets his swaggering from side to side do the talking. You kill it, Brandon.
Stormzy becomes Stiff Chocolate once more
Stormzy brought a flavour of the nineties garage scene to the Live Lounge with his rendition of 1999’s ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’ by Shanks and Bigfoot. The London grime artist, also nicknamed Stiff Chocolate, brought soulful backing singers in with him – a prominent feature of his debut album Gang Signs and Prayer – but this didn’t stop him throwing down some freestyles of his own.
Craig David brings another mash-up
From a classic garage track to the man who made garage music is own seventeen years ago. Since his comeback in 2015 with his mash-up of Jack U’s ‘Where Are U Now’ and his very own track ‘Fill Me In’, Craig David has been no stranger to experimenting live on BBC Radio 1. His latest effort comes in the form of classic house track ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ mixed with DJ Khaled and Rihanna’s ‘Wild Thoughts’, check it out.
Wolf Alice give us something new
The end of September saw Wolf Alice unleash their second album Visions of a Life to the world and just like record number two being ramped up another level, they’ve brought the same attitude to their live game. Live Lounge month gave the four-piece the chance to show off their latest single: the effortlessly cool ‘Beautifully Unconventional’.
Photo from BBC.