Image from Consequence of Sound
By CHARLIE FERN
Elton John is one of the most celebrated artists of all time.
Along with lyricist Bernie Taupin, John has written songs that have become standards. Their influence is shown on “Revamp,” which features contemporary pop and rock artists taking on some of Elton’s greatest hits.
This project is part of the promotion for Sir Elton’s upcoming farewell tour. There is also a sister album called “Restoration” that feature covers of his songs from current country artists. They both follow his “Diamonds” compilation album released in November.
Some of the covers work quite well. The highlight is easily Florence + the Machine’s version of “Tiny Dancer.” The arrangement stays true to the original, but Florence Welch’s colorful vocal makes it the band’s own. Lady Gaga’s version of “Your Song” is also quite good, though her theatrical emoting may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The Killers also bring their own sound to “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.” Their twist is effective enough to make it sound like a Killers song that will also please Elton John fans. Mary J. Blige’s version of “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word” is soulful and an easy listen.
Unfortunately, the highlights end there. Sam Smith’s “Daniel” and Alessia Cara’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” feature great vocals.
However, the electronic arrangements on them will sound dated in a few years. This is in great contrast to the evergreen arrangements of the original versions.
Some other tracks are simply bizarre. P!nk’s version of “Bennie & the Jets” features a rap break from Logic that does not fit in. Q-Tip and Demi Lovato’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” features a hip-hop arrangement that falls flat and moves too far away from made the original work.
The low point is Miley Cyrus’s cover of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Cyrus simply has a weak voice, and this song has been done better by multiple “American Idol” contestants.
Ed Sheeran’s version of “Candle in the Wind” is safe and predictable. Mumford & Sons’ “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” starts off strong, but falls apart midway through.
The only other tracks are Coldplay’s “We All Fall in Love Sometimes” and Queens of the Stone Age’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” These covers are respectable and fit the style of their respective. However, they are forgettable at the end of the day.
The necessity of this project is unclear. Sir Elton’s upcoming tour has already sold out most of its dates, so further promotion is not needed. This album and its sister project feel like cash grabs. Nothing truly unique is done with these songs. Some should have been left on the cutting room floor.
The original versions of these tracks are still radio staples for a reason. They are melodic, catchy, and feature brilliant musicianship.
A good thing does not have to be messed with. The original tracks are unforgettable. These covers do not fall into that category.
The Flyer gives “Revamp” a 4 out of 10.