(Un)covered is idobi’s exclusive take on the world’s best cover songs.
“All I Want” Songwriters: Steve Garrigan, Mark Prendergast, James Flannigan Original Release Date: September 7, 2012
This week’s cover starts with the Irish alternative band Kodaline’s beautiful song, “All I Want.” Even the stoniest of hearts can’t deny this striking emotional ballad, which is surprisingly catchy, too. (Don’t be surprised if you find yourself humming the chorus while doing laundry–I know I do). Now add one of pop music’s biggest and coolest voices to the cover: Ellie Goulding. Did just the thought give you shivers? Wait until you hear it!
If you haven’t seen the two-part music video set to this song, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch the cool concept story in two parts (Part 1 above, Part 2 here). The track was originally featured on the band’s 2012 EP The Kodaline EP, and then again on their debut album In A Perfect World in 2013. You might recognize the song from the movie soundtrack of The Fault in Our Stars, which released last year.
The thoughtfulness of “All I Want,” plus its steady rhythm and romantic lyrics make it a good addition to the soundtrack of one of last year’s most popular teen movies. With a close listen, you’ll hear that Kodaline are positively entrancing on “All I Want.” The song relies almost entirely on dynamic to change the feel of the song, and the band do so with perfect execution. By layering voice, guitar, piano, and soft, natural sounding percussion, “All I Want” begins so delicately, it practically makes me sleepy. Sweet lyrics and the gentle but easy voice of Steve Garrigan carry this song through more than five minutes, but it never feels long. The crescendo, present for pretty much the whole song, continues building with a more forceful rhythm and the piercing ring of electric guitar until it’s as loud and cutting as the aching loneliness described in the lyrics. I applaud anyone who doesn’t feel a little bit heartbroken by the end.
Ellie Goulding may be known for her Top 40 hits “I Need Your Love” and more recently, “Love Me Like You Do,” which is taken from the 50 Shades of Grey Soundtrack, but her talent exceeds her mainstream radio presence and this week’s cover is a perfect example of that. On “All I Want,” Goulding keeps things soft and sweet with her chiming, ethereal tone that always gives me shivers. She sings over just an acoustic guitar at first, but the song grows with dynamic layers from DJ Fresh’s synth keys and the sweeping strings of a violin and cello. What really sells this cover for me is Goulding’s killer solo near the end (starts at 3:30). I already said I loved her voice, but I’ve never heard Goulding sing like this. She wavers in exactly the right places, gently trembling at each high note that soars probably an entire octave above my own vocal range. The backing vocals also sing with a faintly haunting harmony that reminds me of The Civil Wars–a sound that perfectly suits this version. In the end, most of the layers are cut down once again, focusing all the energy of the song back to Goulding and DJ Fresh. The song ends on a short but bright note, one that is removed of all dramatic tension and replaced instead by a sense of hopefulness. You’ve just got to listen.