Etta james first covered At Last in 1960 and as far as I am concerned her rendition will always be the best. Not because it's the most well known version, or the one that brought the song to the worlds attention, but because of Etta James' masterful and impassioned delivery.
Etta James utilised her contralto range perfectly, never becoming self-indulgent, showy or overwrought. Instead her voice coexisted with the beautiful lyrics and captivating instrumentation harmoniously, giving us the resulting classic we know and love today. But how does the renditions of fellow Divas, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera, fare in comparison.
Beyonce delivers a saccharine rendition of the song that suits the loved up lyrics and lush orchestration nicely. However, it's one dimensional in its approach, failing to convey the journey of emotions the protagonist takes us on through the song. Beyonce also sounds restrained and slightly robotic, as if concentrating too much on the vocals and not enough on the emotional content of the lyrics.
Christina Aguilera manages to capture the essence of the song better than Beyonce and her voice, with its edge, fits better with the bluesy backing. The main criticism I have though, and its the same one I always seem to have with Christina, yeah I know change the record already, it's her inability to hold a single note for more then a couple of seconds. It's a fussiness that I find impedes on the beautiful simplicity of the song's melody.
Christina and Beyonce both did an incredible job, but if you had to pick which one that you preferred better, which would it be? Vote below.
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