(Un)covered: Happy

Royal Blood vs. Pharrell By | April 21, 2015 at 2:00 PM

“Happy”
Songwriter: Pharrell Williams
Original Release Date: November 21, 2013

I recently discovered the dream come true that is BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge on YouTube this weekend (I know, I know, it’s shameful how long that took me). But, now that I have, I’ve decided that this YouTube channel is the Mecca for the greatest cover songs ever. This week, I’m taking a look at one of my favorite new artists covering one of my least favorite songs: Royal Blood’s take on “Happy.”

I’ll admit, Pharrell’s original song is fun. It has a good beat, a sunny vibe that makes you want to dance, and Pharrell has a silky smooth set of pipes to make this tune sweet as sugar. Interestingly enough, the song was originally written for Cee Lo Green. But beyond its carefree feeling, “Happy” isn’t all that exciting. It’s a bit lackluster, and the lyrics are totally generic. In the end, it amounts to a song I don’t mind hearing when it comes on the radio, but that indifference is just about all the emotion I can muster for it. I’m not excited about this song, and if music isn’t awakening something inside you, then something’s wrong. Despite my own dislike for the song, “Happy” is one of the top-selling digital singles (12 million copies, people) and was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards last year.

If you’ve got a taste for something a little more destructive, then let me introduce you to the practically brand new UK blues-rock band, Royal Blood. Royal Blood are my favorite bass and drums duo to ever grace planet Earth (don’t worry, Brick + Mortar are a close second). The band’s self-titled made my personal number one slot for album of the year in 2014. Royal Blood crank up the heat with their cover of “Happy” for the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. Bassist/vocalist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher swap the effortless, relaxed feel of the original for a gritty and sultry style that’s maybe even a little bit angry, but so satisfying. The best part of a bass/drums duo is that it’s all rhythm. This is the kind of music you turn up loud and so you can feel your bones rattle. If Pharrell’s “Happy” is a bit too happy for you, let Royal Blood shake things up instead.

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