Is it a bad idea to cover an Ariana Grande song? Probably yes, right? Ariana Grande is the moment’s dominant pop star, and she’s got a lot of great songs, songs that you might find yourself singing tunelessly at red lights or whatever. But she’s also got a feather-light, effortlessly showy voice, the kind of voice that few people alive can hope to replicate. If you try to sing one of her songs, you’re going to invite comparisons. Those comparisons will probably not flatter you. And yet people keep doing it.
Lately, it seems like everyone who stops by the BBC Live Lounge attempts to cover an Ariana Grande song. (The big exception is Ariana Grande herself, who covered Thundercat.) In just the past few weeks, that’s meant the 1975 and Mumford & Sons singing Grande’s songs. And now Grande’s friend Miley Cyrus has also given it a shot.
Right now, Cyrus is putting in work with fellow hitmaker Mark Ronson. They dropped the new single “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart,” which has an overwhelmingly goofy video. They covered the John Lennon/Yoko Ono holiday classic “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” They played last weekend’s SNL. And now they’ve stopped by the Live Lounge to try out Grande’s massive 2018 song “No Tears Left To Cry.”
Cyrus is a long way from being Grande, vocally, but she’s better suited to try a Grande song than Matty Healy or Marcus Mumford. She’s got a fried, lived-in rock voice, and “No Tears Left To Cry” at least sounded natural coming from her. She was accompanied by a string section and by Ronson on acoustic guitar, so her version had none of Grande’s berserker disco thump. Also, there was a heart-shaped disco ball in the room. Here’s the video:
And speaking of Grande covers, Alessia Cara tried out “breathin” during a BBC Radio 1 Piano Session the other day, so here’s that:
I hope people are really thinking about these things. You shouldn’t rush blind into an Ariana Grande cover. People in karaoke bars are going to be learning this lesson for years to come.