take cover: charli xcx x bsb

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 9.32.47 AMSo I’ve watch this Charli XCX cover of the Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” several times, and I still can’t decide if I love it or hate it.  Here’s been my process while watching it:

1. I am 100% down with the concept of indie artists (particularly female indie artists) covering 90s/2000s boy band tracks.

1A. I would love Solange to do a cover of U + Me = Us.

2. “Hopefully you recognize it.” – Hopefully I recognize it, Charli? I lived this song.

2A. How many people in the store recognized the song immediately and didn’t want to cop to it?

But the actual cover itself leaves me a little flat.  I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it nearly as much as I thought I would/should.  Maybe it’s a bit too close to the original?  Maybe I listened to too much Top 40 radio in 1999? Maybe I’m just mad that I’m going to have “I Want It That Way” in my head for the rest of the day?

Take a listen and let me know what you think. (And if your comment is that Backstreet Boys sucks, I agree. N Sync was much better).

Watch for: Charli realizing how ridiculous(ly fun) this cover is at 2:43.

You can hear original music from Charli XCX on her debut album, True Romance,  out now via Atlantic. You can also check out her track with Marina and the Diamonds, “Just Desserts”:


take cover is an occasional series featuring favorite artists covering other favorite artists.

  1. I think the reason this cover isn’t next level is because it is missing the core component of what made BSB or NSync songs work: the group harmonizing. It’s the wall of sound aspect of those boy bands or really any pop of that era that made the music work on many levels. Whether one was an indie or a punk rock kid who shunned the “mainstream” you can’t help but recognize a beautiful harmony when it works. I think Charli XCX is always wavering in out of these worlds. She probably should have done an even more subdued or faster version in order to really capture a new mood. I will say i do really enjoy her new record; not perfect but perfectly pleasant for a certain mood.

    • Yeah, I totally agree with that analysis. That’s the tricky part of a successful cover – staying true to the song (in some sense) while doing something to make it more interesting. I’ve seen this cover referred to as “soulful,” but I just wasn’t feeling that. Would love to hear her slow down the tempo, like you suggested.


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