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(Un)Covered: O Holy Night

O Holy Night”
Writer: Adolphe Adam
Original Release Date: November 1, 1994

The song itself is based on an old French canticle from the late 1800’s, but the version we’re all familiar with is Mariah Carey’s.

While not as majestic as “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, Mariah’s version of “O Holy Night” proves yet again that she has one impressive set of pipes. She perfectly hits all those high notes with her signature bell-like voice—I speak from experience when I say it is not easy to sing that high without your voice unpleasantly cracking—and the background vocals provide an extra layer of warmth as she belts out the chorus. There’s a little bit of an R&B flavor to the bass and keys that make the tune interesting without overwhelming the vocals. It’s probably more dramatic than the song has any right to be, but can you expect anything less from Mariah Carey?

If you’re not paying close attention, this might sound like a pretty standard version of “O Holy Night”. But since Bastille is the king of covers, you should know you’re not going into an ordinary interpretation. Listen closely and you’ll hear that Dan Smith changed the words, making the normally joyful song much more mournful with lines like “With heavy hearts, by our TV’s we stay”, and the heart-wrenching statement “Down here on earth this year’s been kind of scary, and now we walk into the great unknown.” Recorded late last year, the song accurately reflects what a terrible time 2016 was, but it’s kinda sad to think that it’s just as relevant in 2017. However, if you’re in the mood for something a little less glum, Bastille previously released their cover of “O Holy Night” on All This Bad Blood, the extended version of their debut album, renamed as “Tuning Out”.

I’m a sucker for a good Bastille cover, so unfortunately I’ll have to pass on the Queen of Christmas’ version (which is just as well, since she recently denied that nickname).

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