â€œYouthâ€ Songwriter: Jonny Harris, Louisa Allen (Foxes) Original Release Date: September 6, 2013 (official)
If you recall Zeddâ€™s hit â€œClarityâ€ from last year, youâ€™ll know that the stunning vocals belong to British singer and songwriter Louisa Allen aka Foxes. It was actually her 2012 debut single â€œYouthâ€ that earned her a place on Zeddâ€™s song, where she earned a Grammy for Best Dance Recording and consequently took the world by storm. This week weâ€™re looking at an acoustic cover of â€œYouthâ€ by the British pop rock band Natives.
â€œYouthâ€ is a beautiful pop song, but itâ€™s not mindless like a lot of things on mainstream radio. It begins with the strikingly melancholy line â€œThey didnâ€™t want me when I was running wild,â€ and continues with intricate and lovely lines throughout. The chorus drives home the message that only a young person can deliver: â€œDonâ€™t tell me our youth is running out/Itâ€™s only just begun.â€ Foxes sings with a slow, sultry R&B tone that resonates through a room. She drawls through her words and drags the listener through each verse, but manages to make it work in an upbeat pop setting. As the song finally comes to a close, Foxes layers her vocals over the music, making for a surreal effect of faded and echoing voices. It ends the song on a much happier note than it began with, leaving the listener with a warm sense of what it means to be young.
Fellow British rockers Natives tone down the song a lot at first. A vibrant pop song transforms into a softly sung acoustic piece, vastly different from the original’s upbeat energy. Vocalist Jim Thomas cools off the vocals on the song, and while theyâ€™re not quite as deep and dimensional as Foxesâ€™, his are clear and crisp, fitting perfectly on guitar driven version of the song. About halfway through, the band pick up the pace and add a thick rhythm section and accent with electric guitar to liven up the gentle acoustic introduction. Thomas also deepens his vocals, adding to the growing layers and we start to hear a more confident tone. This version of “Youth” goes from bleak to bright in a matter of minutes, and the transition is virtually seamless. Natives made an effort to express their style on the song, and seem to have succeeded in creating a cover that is all their own.
Natives chose a difficult song to cover with “Youth.” What I like about this cover is that the band didn’t match the voice or the style of Foxesâ€™ song at all. Instead, it took on a new kind of potency as an acoustic ballad to the idea of youth. Natives nailed this cover and I look forward to see what other songs the band ventures to cover and transform in the future.