From Flops To Bops; Live Lounge’s Most Ambitious Performances

God bless the nonsense that the Live Lounge produces.

BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge appeared out of nowhere with no true and notable starting date. Technically started back in 2009 by Fearne Cotton, the Live Lounge actually dates back to at least 2006 when the BBC would release CD compilations (remember those?) of some of the “best” appearances.

Regardless of this almost supernatural spawning, the Live Lounge has produced some truly top-notch nonsense in its time, so we thought we’d take a dive into the weirdest, most ‘out there’ Live Lounge appearances, from the biggest flops to the biggest bops.

10. Queens Of The Stone Age – Blurred Lines

In many ways you could say ‘Blurred Lines’ was a mistake. Having lost it’s original writers a cool $7.3 million in royalty disputes, and being banned in almost every SU in the country, why would you want to cover it?

Singer Josh Homme struggles to stay on time with the almost randomised guitar playing, leading to a fumbling and meek attempt at a song about sexual assault. The clear lack of preparation and pitchy confusion makes this the worst Live Lounge attempt in its history, whether it was a joke or not. It is important to note that Vampire Weekend also attempted a cover of Blurred Lines too, and it was also poor, but there are some factors of the QOTSA that put it an ounce of shit above the rest. For example, the pill bottles being used as shakers.

Ambition: 1/10
Execution: 1/10

9. Bombay Bicycle Club – Whatcha Say

Maybe any original footage was removed for a reason. This was a stretch at its conception, but the quivering vocals struggling to wrap around the song really helps to lose the essence of the song in a way that only an indie acoustic cover could. Choices were made sonically that only lead to me imagining Kermit the Frog singing around a campfire with some beautiful harmonies. It’s weird, but it wasn’t offensive.

Ambition: 2/10
Execution: 3/10

8. Franz Ferdinand – Womanizer (also All American Rejects – Womanizer)

There is something threatening about both versions of ‘Womanizer’, however, Franz Ferdinand flavoured the cover with something more rabid. The beeping along with the absolute speed of the bass drum is extremely menacing, and the pre-chorus enters with the clashing yelled harmonies and my body goes into fight/flight mode. Similarly, with the All American Rejects version there is something clowny and intimidating rather than anything sexy or even enjoyable. They’ve both managed to leech any fun or joy out of the song, good for them! Maybe ‘Womanizer’ should be left alone on the covers front.

Ambition: 5/10
Execution: 5/10

7. The Automatic – Gold Digger

Remember when The Automatic did that song ‘Monster’ and the verses had the cool rock yelling? Well, they took that same energy, removed the electric guitar, and implemented a pan flute. There’s nothing more jarring yet simultaneously hilarious than hearing the chorus of ‘Gold Digger’ being yelled like a threat over a pan flute. They also perform the full rap and it… was a rap. The kazoo solo? It happened. The whole thing is completely discordant but they were ambitious and memorable so I guess it’s the thought that counts.

Ambition: 8/10
Execution: 5.5/10

6. Akon – The Take Over, The Break’s Over

Akon attempts to tackle one of Fall Out Boy’s less popular tracks with a backing track that is slightly garbled. It’s just a karaoke track with a trap beat, isn’t it? The spirit of the song is lost and the clean-cut instrumental that makes the song so catchy never appears. It’s a brave choice for Akon and sometimes it sounds great – but is that because Fall Out Boy wrote a good song?

Ambition: 7/10
Execution: 7/10
Footage for video: 10/10

5. Busted – Where is The Love

Was a ska rap-rock cover from Busted on your 2007 music checklist? No? Well, we have it… and it feels like the Beastie Boys were held hostage in the basement of The Specials. The chorus is great, if we just ignore the long yelling in the background, and overall the song grows on you (if you listen for long enough). There are some moments that are cheeky and fun where Busted have done something musically quite cool, but they’re fleeting within the confusing ska hellscape. The main redeeming aspect of this cover is the laughter in their voices letting us know that they’re having a great time and not taking it too seriously.

Ambition: 8/10
Execution: 7/10

4. Franz Ferdinand – What You Waiting for?

Coming in at number four with a Gwen Stefani cover is double offender Franz Ferdinand. The vocal line is quite confusing and they really mess up the bridge, but the balls needed to cover this brilliant song and mix it with White Wedding? Huge. The cover is frantic and almost meandering around the point but overall this is a win. Any male band that isn’t afraid to sing a feminine/feminist anthem without changing the lyrics wins our vote.

Ambition: 8/10
Execution: 8/10

3. Arctic Monkeys – Love Machine

Okay, okay, I know, it’s a weird choice. I just needed to express why this cover works so perfectly thinly veiled by a RIOT article. Arctic Monkeys jump straight into a beloved Girls Aloud song with lines like “we’re gift-wrapped kitty cats”, “You’re my man and I need you tonight” and “I need a squeeze a day instead of this negligee” and execute it lyrically as it was written with a thick Sheffield accent. They transferred the song into something musically on-brand for them and you can hear the band are having a great time doing it. It’s cheeky, catchy, funny and overall something that’s going to be branded into my mind for a while. The risk was huge and it paid off.

Ambition: 10/10
Execution: 7/10
Footage for video: 10/10

2. Biffy Clyro – WAP

I think it helps that there is a video of this historical moment in music. It helps us to know that they’re joking to a degree, even though they’re taking the musical elements seriously, and that turns this Live Lounge from an embarrassing flop to something great. The breakdowns are largely gratifying and the Scottish accent attempting the Americanised rap with lines like “tiny wee garage” makes this cover modern art. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that even though Biffy toned down the empowered self-confidence of the original they still managed to keep it… Sexy…

(And often male bands covering women’s empowering feminist tracks can come across as threatening or just a bit grim, see point 8).

Ambition: 9/10
Execution: 8/10

1. Stereophonics – You Sexy Thing

This might be one of the most unexpected combinations of song and artist on the list but my GOD does it pay off. The Hot Chocolate song is often regarded as more of a joke used in adverts and TV shows to portray a moment of desire, yet somehow Stereophonics removed any cheesy aspect, turned up the bass, added some whisky voice, and boom- it was sexy again. Ending the song with a distorted and screaming guitar solo emphasises the rock aspect that Stereophonics injected into this cover and, really, it’s perfection. Tentatively, this Live Lounge might be better than the Hot Chocolate original- or at least more sonically appropriate for the modern era.

Ambition: 8/10
Execution: 10/10

Author avatar
Chloe Spinks

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