In a not-so-subtle attempt to say the right things for some cross-over hipster cool, John Legend went on a blog-friendly name dropping spree in a conversation with Rolling Stone. Legend told ’em that Illinoise ranked among his “Best New-School Albums” and identified Fiona Apple (“writing is incredible”) and Feist (“one of the dopest voices I’ve ever heard”) as his two “Leading Females.” We can’t argue.

He wasn’t done there, though. After a leading question, the neo-soul nice guy said that Once Again’s “Show Me” was “an homage” to Jeff Buckley, stating that “I can sing with just about anybody, but he’s one of the few singers who truly intimdates me. He’s one of the best voices I’ve ever heard.” After recording the “intimate and spiritual and ethereal” vocal to the track, he felt like he “was a fan, listening to somebody else.”

On rocky terrain there, John; none of us take self-claims to sounding like Jeff lightly. Think he pulls off the vox? On structure and dynamics alone, we say he fails. Tune is pretty boring.

 
Comments (50)
  1. aXLROSEXORAL  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    quick! talk about some white people! tell eveyone how much you like whitemanA and whitewomanB. you’ve gotten as many black listeners as you ever will, time to get the white people’! you need some white blog write ups! thats where whitey gets his music from! talk about a dead white boy, they love it!

    • Mike Perras  |   Posted on Nov 30th, 2008 0

      John Legend sounds like a younger Seal to me. “If You’re Out There” just sounds like a song Seal would do. I would love to see Seal produce John doing “If You’re Out There” as I think his sense of soul musically is well developed and could be magic through that kind of collaboration. Just a production fantasy moment. LOL

  2. axLROSEXORAL  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    okay now i’ve listened

    yup, he SOUNDS like jeff buckley…

    BUT THEY FORGOT it’s JOHN MAYER (THAT OTHER WHITE DUDE) WHO LIKES TO RIP OF CHEESY HENDRIX LICKS, NOT BUCKLEY

    BUCKLEY LIKED THE 90′s DIGITAL CHORUS/REVERB

  3. why not?  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    I’m not saying the Buckley comparison is warranted or that I’m feeling “Show Me” but it is possible that he actually does like the artists he mentioned…I mean his BFF Kanye West did work w/ Fiona Apple’s producers on his last album…as for above comment, way to divide things racially, very mature

  4. jason  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    i remember reading in some magazine that he wanted to do a song with feist and had actually written a song with a part for her.

  5. white silk  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    He may not sound much like the late, great Jeff Buckley (or even his old man, Tim B.) but throw on “Ordinary People” from J-Legend’s first album, “Get Lifted,” and I dare you to say that shit ain’t one of the downright prettiest fuckin’ songs you ever heard……buh-leeve-it, the dude can sing!

  6. I wish he’d have mentioned some Jazz artists in there…why is jazz so taboo these days?

  7. uh, maybe he doesn’t like much jazz? that could be a reason for not mentioning any.

    it is possible that he likes those artists mentioned, you know…black folks are allowed to listen to music outside of hip hop and soul. had one black friend in college who loved two things – cheesy r-n-b and death metal.

    as for jeff buckley…i’ve listened and listened, and i still don’t get the appeal of that guy. yeah, great voice, but not fun to listen to.

  8. jazzboo  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    why should he mention jazz when they are talking about modern artists? because he is a non-tvotr black guy, and makes primarily soul music (pretty different from jazz)? do YOU know of any modern (as in, still putting out new, vital records) jazz artists that don’t suck? because most jazz ideals have gone the way of either avantgarde/noise or electronic/postrock.

    and to the first comment: c’mon, he’s listing music he likes that most people wouldn’t know he did, not trying to cater to white audiences. no one jumps on white indie artists when they “admit” they like things like houston rap, reggaeton, and all those other mildly exotic genres.

    i hate to bring it to racial issues, but after seeing kanye west’s amazing album get torn up from people who hadn’t heard (nor will ever hear) more than “goldigger” at the last year-end list, you’ll have to excuse me for being a bit defensive.

  9. Look, if Legend is trying to curry the favor of the mystery-white-cult out there, then yes it is kind of a rip-off. But I think the guy’s sincere this time. After all, he did appear in a GAP ad saying his favorite all-time song is Todd Rundgren’s “Hello, It’s Me”. TV ads wouldn’t lie, would they?

    Well, would they?!

    Nonetheless, “Ordinary People” is a very good song and I feel Legend has much more future potential than mentor Kanye. And if his endorsement gets one more person to listen to “Grace”, I’m not complaining. Buckley was an incredible artist and wrote some deeply felt songs. If his ghost influences Legend to write from an alternate source than “that gold-digger” or “my boyz at the club with the grillz and the rimz” or worse yet, “uh-huh, yeah, f’real”, God bless him.

    That he dropped Sufjan in there is a tad creepy though.
    DwD

  10. brendan  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    yeah he matches jeff’s phrasing pretty well, but the song sucks.

  11. Buckeye  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    He definitely sounds a bit like buckley on this track, although I couldn’t see Buckley doing a song like this. Either way, Buckley’s great, Legend is good, ‘Ordinary People’ is an amazing song, and at this point isn’t it expected that everyone name-drops sufjan and illinoise?

  12. I wouldn’t name-drop Sufjan.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to pronounce it.

    DwD

  13. He’s definitely on shaky ground, but I do like the song. Nonetheless, Legend couldn’t really compare himself to Bilal’s vocal talents, much less Buckley’s.

  14. He’s definitely on shaky ground, but I do like the song. Nonetheless, Legend couldn’t really compare himself to Bilal’s vocal talents, much less Buckley’s.

  15. djt  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    I think you were a little too critical. The guy seems to have diverse musical (and cultural) background. Not sure he listed those influences as an attempt to say the right things for “hipsters”.

  16. Am I the only one that doesn’t interpret that statement to mean he thinks he can sing as well as Jeff Buckley? Not taking sides here, I just don’t see that much arrogance in that quote.

  17. Kels  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    Am I the only one that doesn’t interpret that statement to mean he thinks he can sing as well as Jeff Buckley? Not taking sides here, I just don’t see that much arrogance in that quote.

    No, I totally agree. I just read the whole interview amd he is obviously saying that he’s a fan and was trying to make a little homage. He didn’t say anything like “I’m as good a singer as Jeff Buckley”.

    I also resent the idea that if a black artist says he likes some somewhat indie-ish music made by white people, it must mean that he’s making a “not-so-subtle attempt to say the right things”, not that he actually (gasp!) likes the music. But when Jenny Lewis says that she loves hip hop music, no-one bats an eyelid. What a bunch of stupid, elitist bullshit.

  18. Jowey  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    To the person who said…

    “do YOU know of any modern (as in, still putting out new, vital records) jazz artists that don’t suck? because most jazz ideals have gone the way of either avantgarde/noise or electronic/postrock.”

    …have you ever heard of Kurt Elling? He’s just a phenomenal jazz vocalist who tries “new” things like Vocalese while continuing “tradtional” jazz singing as well. Listen to Live From Chicago and tell me he isn’t good.

    Brad Mehldau? Just an “avantgarde” pianist who covers Nick Drake and Radiohead, but follows it up with jazz standards like “Anything Goes” or “Smile.” This reader suggests Largo.

    Orbert Davis? Just a phenomenal trumpeter in the style of Miles Davis. He teamed up with Kurt Elling on his 2002 release Priority, but the standout track is a spot-on recording of Davis’ “Miles Ahead” that trumps the original (off Davis’ album by the same name) IMHO.

    But yeah, Jazz really is dead….to those who are ignorant enough to think so.

  19. Jowey  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    To the person who said…

    “do YOU know of any modern (as in, still putting out new, vital records) jazz artists that don’t suck? because most jazz ideals have gone the way of either avantgarde/noise or electronic/postrock.”

    …have you ever heard of Kurt Elling? He’s just a phenomenal jazz vocalist who tries “new” things like Vocalese while continuing “tradtional” jazz singing as well. Listen to Live From Chicago and tell me he isn’t good.

    Brad Mehldau? Just an “avantgarde” pianist who covers Nick Drake and Radiohead, but follows it up with jazz standards like “Anything Goes” or “Smile.” This reader suggests Largo.

    Orbert Davis? Just a phenomenal trumpeter in the style of Miles Davis. He teamed up with Kurt Elling on his 2002 release Priority, but the standout track is a spot-on recording of Davis’ “Miles Ahead” that trumps the original (off Davis’ album by the same name) IMHO.

    But yeah, Jazz really is dead….to those who are ignorant enough to think so.

  20. Beetlebum  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    john legend and everything he named is total shit.

  21. Jowey  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    To the person who said…

    “do YOU know of any modern (as in, still putting out new, vital records) jazz artists that don’t suck? because most jazz ideals have gone the way of either avantgarde/noise or electronic/postrock.”

    …have you ever heard of Kurt Elling? He’s just a phenomenal jazz vocalist who tries “new” things like Vocalese while continuing “tradtional” jazz singing as well. Listen to Live From Chicago and tell me he isn’t good.

    Brad Mehldau? Just an “avantgarde” pianist who covers Nick Drake and Radiohead, but follows it up with jazz standards like “Anything Goes” or “Smile.” This reader suggests Largo.

    Orbert Davis? Just a phenomenal trumpeter in the style of Miles Davis. He teamed up with Kurt Elling on his 2002 release Priority, but the standout track is a spot-on recording of Davis’ “Miles Ahead” that trumps the original (off Davis’ album by the same name) IMHO.

    But yeah, Jazz really is dead….to those who are ignorant enough to think so.

  22. thanks for reminding how much i miss jeff buckley…….rest in peace!

  23. thanks for reminding me how much i miss jeff buckley…….rest in peace!

  24. jazzbo  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    to “jower”, who repeatedly replies to my earlier comment:
    you know some modern jazz, and that is very good for you (although i’ll debate that covers of nick drake and radiohead aren’t really that genre-defining). however, my initial point was that we shouldn’t expect john legend to know more about contemporary jazz any more than we would expect a random stereogum reader. the expectation that he would know more seemed to stem from his being a black soul artist, which somehow does not allow him to earnestly enjoy stereogum-approved artists without stereogum’s lofty permission.

  25. This post is so negative? Sounds like John Legend is in touch. So he’s influenced by white people – sounds like fair play to me, considering we stole everything we love from black people.

  26. pardon…why is this post so negative?

  27. pardon…why is this post so negative?

  28. marsh  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    tupac name-dropping kate bush. now *that* made my day

  29. eric  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    i do see the connection, actually. i mean, jeff buckley was born with a last name that was destined to be a weight on his shoulders – so much to live up to…so, needless to say, i can only imagine the pressure of being born with the last name ‘legend’…..
    ….wait – ‘he’ named himself that?….not self-aggrandizing at all

  30. eric  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    i do see the connection, actually. i mean, jeff buckley was born with a last name that was destined to be a weight on his shoulders – so much to live up to…so, needless to say, i can only imagine the pressure of being born with the last name ‘legend’…..
    ….wait – ‘he’ named himself that?….not self-aggrandizing at all

  31. unbiased  |   Posted on Oct 24th, 2006 0

    Leave John Legend alone! For once we have someone in R&B who reminds us what R&B should be…not hokey, overtly-sexual, or just plain cheesy. John Legend is a real talent who sings about real love and ready????? Rhythm and Blues!

    As far as the Jeff Buckley comment…I got over reacting to what artists say they listen to when Justin Timberlake said years ago he couldn’t get enough Radiohead (during is N’Sync years). Quit judging! If you don’t like it, don’t download it.

  32. why so touchy  |   Posted on Oct 25th, 2006 0

    Why are you so judgemental, I always hear about alternative rock stars saying oh yeah I love this rapper, and such and then 6 months later they have a rapper ryming over one of there hits. get this in ur freaken head MUSIC IS A UNIVERSAL LANGAUGE what a dope. I love fionna apple too and I am black I listen to a lot of down south rap and alternative rock also country so tell me what the hell are you talking about? Please enlighten me

  33. The Zimzi  |   Posted on Oct 28th, 2006 0

    This song is beautiful. My heart melted a little bit.*sniffles*

  34. EB  |   Posted on Oct 31st, 2006 0

    To end the debate as to whether or not John likes Jazz or Jeff Buckley, I would point out that he arranged Last Goodbye for his college a capella group…which was actually (in part) a JAZZ a cappella group.

    Of course, I would also say, does it really warrant your ire? Isn’t there something important you could get really angry about?

  35. estellerox  |   Posted on Nov 1st, 2006 0

    Personally I don’t really see the comparison between Legend and Buckley. I don’t think that Legend sounded anything like Buckley on “Show me”. As for Legend being arrogant in his statements I didn’t see much of that either and I read the entire Rolling Stone article. I was just happy to see Jeff Buckley’s name in print again. Perhaps people will read that article and be compelled to listen to something by Jeff and that can never be a bad thing. To this day if I ever mention Jeff Buckley as my favorite musician I get that dumb dog look, noone knows who he is and that is a total shame.

  36. Shawn  |   Posted on Nov 2nd, 2006 0

    yeah i don’t think he sounds like jeff buckley but i could imagine him going into the recording booth with that intention, you can definetly hear buckley’s influence in the way he sings here (especially some of the drawn out notes towards the end of the song). in either case legend desereves some credit for having a great voice in his own right, and coming up with some very ridiculously catchy hoooks. right now i can’t stop playing “heaven” on repeat, hype williams did the video, watch here:
    http://obtusity.blogspot.com/2006/11/lifeless-vision.html

  37. StarryJ  |   Posted on Nov 7th, 2006 0

    I heard “Show Me” and was reminded of Jeff Buckley before reading this blog. As far aas John saying that he likes Fiona Apple and Feist as well as Buckley; I am a black gospel, r&b, jazz, soul and opera singer that loves Fiona Apple, Jeff Buckley, Frou Frou, Ani Difranco, Pete Yorn, and Sufjan among other indie-ish artists. IT IS NOTHING NEW FOR A BLAKC ARTIST TO LIKE MUSIC MADE BY PEOPLE OUTSIDE THEIR RACE, MUSIC TRULY IS UNIVERSAL PEOPLE! This is one of the most ignorant postings; stop trying to categorize and put people, especially artists, in boxes, it’s pointless and a denial of one’s creative spirit.

  38. NL  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2006 0

    I’m pretty sure this post is dead by now, but I thought I’d note a bit of irony that Feist’s website currently has a prominent pop-up featuring John Legend’s words of praise (with a photo of Legend). Shouldn’t some stereogum blogger be accusing her of pandering to grab some of that urban R&B street cred?

  39. nl  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2006 0

    I’m pretty sure this post is dead by now, but I thought I’d note a bit of irony that Feist’s website currently has a prominent pop-up displaying John Legend’s words of praise (with a photo of Legend), adjacent to a clipping of Outkast’s current playlist featuring her. Shouldn’t some cynical stereogum blogger be accusing her of pandering to grab some of that urban R&B street cred?

  40. I love John Legend’s voice,song writing and most important his humility. I read the article in entirety as well as hundreds of other articles of John Legend’s and he is not arrogant in any form. He wrote “Show Me” as a prayer to God; it was an intimate conversation to God that he allowed us to listen in on it and I am glad that we have artists like John Legend who write from the heart. There are a lot of artists who doesn’t even write their own music with the attempt of recording the next hit. Actually I wouldn’t call those who don’t write their own music “artists”, they are “singers”. Not only does John Legend write his own music, but his focus is not to have a radio hit, it’s to create great music that he can be proud of.

    Anyway, I appreciate “Show Me” and I am glad that he mentioned Jeff Buckley because up until he did, I have never heard of Jeff Buckley and it opened the door for me to find his music and now I am a fan of “Mr. Buckley”. Sounds weird that in 2006 that Mr. Buckley has gained a new fan and he’s been gone for a while, but some of you may say that John Legend is “Name dropping” to try to sound rounded, but not only is he sincere but he makes his supporters who haven’t listened to those artists curious to check them out and listen to them with an objective ear; expanding our musical taste a lot further from popular radio. John Legend’s music is beautiful to me and I am glad that we have a talent like his out there.

  41. i did not listen to “show me” but i know that you can NEVER compare John Legend to Jeff Buckley. i mean… c’mon!!!!!! jeff buckley is like no other. both of them are coming from two opposite poles, but with one common love and passion (music) that made them musicians and artists.
    it’s great that john legend loves jeff buckley. let him be a fan. he has the right. don’t we all?

  42. Lisa  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2006 0

    I’m a huge JB fan, and of course more recently, a JL fan. The first time I heard ‘Show Me,’ I immediately thought of JB, and how amazing it is that JL can sound like that. It’s a gorgeous song.

  43. littlelamb  |   Posted on Jan 20th, 2007 0

    john, jeff, contraltos of all stripes. whatever. where would you be if you dissed every musician that echoed something you’d heard before. You’d knock out entire genres. There’d be no genres. So he likes solid RB. So he’s got a groovy, sensuous, falsetto. So Buckley did too. whatever.

  44. accidentally clicked onto ur website trying to find out which song john legend is listening to in a car commercial. re his jeff buckley inference. i read in people magazine that his favorite music to play when he is dating someone who is passionate and romantic is j.b.’s album GRACE. this makes him alright in my book. i’m not into his mucic, but he is a talented guy who happens to love jeff’s music and wrote an homage to him. u guys need to chill.

  45. KillerQueen  |   Posted on May 31st, 2007 0

    Well I can’t say that I’m a fan of John Legend or his style of music, but he’s decent as far as singers go in the present – But in my opinion, there should be a list of artists that people should draw inspiration and influence from, but never try to emulate, especially when it comes to vocal giants such as Jeff Buckley.

  46. lilpeach  |   Posted on Nov 22nd, 2007 0

    NOW that he mentions it I think JL sounds ALOT like Feist way more than Jeff.

  47. I thought he reminded me a bit of buck once while listening to halleluja. subtle and quiet in spirit. Truth is he sounds like himself but we all have influences. I look like John Legend but don’t make claims to be him. So, he can make claims…doesn’t mean it’s an absolute.

  48. Genorous Time  |   Posted on Sep 11th, 2008 0

    Listen to the whole Grace album and some of his live performances
    and I guaranteed you’ll see the fun.

  49. I loved the album Legend did with The Roots, but he sounds about as much like Buckley as I do. More like he wishes he did.

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