Fourth runner-up (loser?) of series 2 of The Voice (USA), Chris Mann, has once again teamed up with his mentor from the show, Christina Aguilera. Having already delivered a beautiful cover of The Prayer, the duo have now taken on Damien Rice's heavenly ballad The Blower's Daughter. But does it live up to the standard set by their last duet?
Being classically trained,Chris Mann's voice immediately gives the song a different feel to that of the original. Whereas the original was rough and organic, Mann's controlled vocal makes this less folksy and more Broadway. It's not bad, just different. Needless to say, there's no problems for him hitting the right note, at the right time, and there is definitely an emotional connection to the song's lyrics coming through.
For Diva watchers, Christina Aguilera's comes in on the song's bridge, and unsurprisingly all hell breaks loose. But not in a good way.
Now, I know you Aggie fans may jump on me for saying this, but this song illustrates precisely what I dislike about her vocal styling. Just compare it to the original version, and you'll hear how less is so SO SOOOOO much more.
Lisa Hannigan was the female singer on the original track, and her soothing voice shows that having a powerful/loud/bombastic delivery isn't always necessary to be impressive, or moving. In fact, sometimes it's not needed at all. Besides, when you're only a featured artist on a song- as Christina is here- its just darn rude letting your vocal get so out of control.
I'd go as far as to call this one of Ms Aguilera's messiest recorded vocals: being unashamedly showy and totally inconsiderate of the song's mood or narrative. It's almost as if she's parodying herself. At least there's no danger of her being accused of copying the original.
I think the only way we can stop these out of control vocals from occurring is to handcuff Christina Aguilera to Linda Perry. If Christina's interview with Billboard is to be believed, she seems to be the only one who can reign in that errant melisma;
Linda Perry is raw, she’s real and she intimidates a lot of grown men. She’s amazing. I was having a really bad day. I came into her studio. It was at her house at the time. I was working with her on a bunch of stuff. She just kind of sat down at her piano in her dining room and started singing.
Don’t do all that Mariah sh**’ — that was her, not me, I love that sh**!” she clarified. “But she was like ‘don’t be doing all that acrobatic sh**, just sing!
Needless to say Christina Aguilera kills this cover of The Blower's Daughter for me. Without her, it's okay; but it's still no patch on the original.
Original Damien Rice version: