So we are coming to the end of Radio 1’s Live Lounge month, which has seen performances from the likes of Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Royal Blood and more. The concept has grown into quite the success story since the first album was released in 2006. This year’s live lounge month is a clear indication of this, with performances coming from as far out as Los Angeles, a complete contrast to previous years when performances have been restricted to the Radio 1 studio.
Over the years there have been some iconic live lounge performances, and we strongly believe it is the covers that make the Live Lounge such a great thing. At Northern Chorus, we decided to compile a list of our favourite covers from northern artists that have made the live lounge albums from the first volume onwards, and here is our top 20…
20. Chvrches – What Do You Mean? – Justin Bieber Cover (Volume 10, 2015)
It’s hard to dislike Lauren Mayberry, and when Chvrches stepped up to cover what was the biggest pop song out there at the time, it was a bold move. Her soft, Glaswegian vocals turned out to be perfect for the Bieber hit, and although it started out as a slightly shy and reserved performance, Mayberry soon grew into the track and put the Chvrches stamp on it.
19. Marmaduke Duke – Single Ladies – Beyonce Cover (Volume 4, 2009)
Simon Neil, a gritty, long-haired, tattooed rock frontman, covering a Beyonce song. It pretty much epitomises why Live Lounge has been such a wonderful thing for music. Marmaduke Duke is Neil’s side project from Biffy with JP Reid, and their rendition of this Beyonce pop classic was an odd but genius choice. All that’s missing is the famous dance routine from the Scottish duo.
18. Arctic Monkeys – On a Mission – Katy B Cover (Volume 7, 2012)
This is the first of several entries for the Arctic Monkeys in our top 20 northern live lounges. Alex Turner seems to have the knack of taking any song, regardless of the genre, and making it his own. This is exactly what he did with this dance track, originally released by Katy B. Completely out of what you would assume is his comfort zone, but he perfects it regardless.
17. Everything Everything – What’s My Name? – Rihanna Cover (Volume 6, 2011)
Shortly after releasing their debut album, Everything Everything performed this track in the live lounge, which is the first of two Rihanna covers to make the list. The Manchester-based indie band have probably never gone on to record anything like this again, but it was a fun take on one of the biggest songs in pop at the time. A bold choice, and we liked it.
16. The Ting Tings – Standing In The Way Of Control – Gossip Cover (Volume 3, 2008)
The Ting Tings were an indie-pop sensation when they burst onto the scene in the late noughties, and although they will be remembered for their two biggest hits, this cover is an underrated gem. I say underrated, but it did in fact make the Live Lounge Greatest Hits album a few years ago. A funky cover of a song so iconic to Beth Ditto’s voice which deserves plenty of credit.
15. Twin Atlantic – Who You Are – Jessie J Cover (Volume 7, 2012)
There’s something about the Scottish voice that is so adaptable to both the heavier rock songs and the slower, more emotional tracks. Sam McTrusty is a shining example of this, and when he took on this Jessie J song it showed off the softer side to Twin Atlantic, the side we have seen before with the likes of Crash Land. Great cover.
14. Circa Waves – Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding Cover (Volume 10, 2015)
Liverpool indie-rock band Circa Waves took this slow Ellie Goulding song that had been written for Fifty Shades of Grey, and turned it into something that perfectly resembled one of their own album tracks. A surprising choice when it was initially announced, but definitely the perfect choice in hindsight. We certainly can’t wait to see their future live lounge choices now.
13. Maximo Park – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers Cover (Volume 2, 2007)
Sometimes for the Live Lounge, an artist will choose a predictable song but change it up, or alternatively go for a completely unpredictable song and catch people out. In this case, Maximo Park did both. Opting for The Proclaimers cheesy pop classic 500 Miles, the Geordie band completely changed the happy pop hit into a mellow acoustic performance, and it worked perfectly.
12. The 1975 – So Good To Me – Chris Malinchak Cover (Volume 8, 2013)
The 1975 will never be everybody’s cup of tea, but for the many who took an instant dislike to Matt Healy and his ‘wannabe rock star’ antics this would have gone a long way to changing people’s minds. It was stripped back, no nonsense. It showed off Healy’s voice in a way many hadn’t heard previously, and it was the perfect song choice. The band have gone on to have a critically-acclaimed second album since, silencing many of their doubters in the process.
11. Miles Kane – Heaven – Emeli Sande Cover (Volume 6, 2011)
Miles Kane is known widely for his indie rock solo material and his time as the frontman of The Rascals, but mostly now for his infectious and narcotic-fuelled friendship with his fellow Last Shadow Puppet Alex Turner. So, for Kane to perform a song by Emeli Sande entitled ‘Heaven’, it seemed a bit out of character. Yet it worked perfectly, and 10 out of 10 for the surprise factor.
10. Blossoms – In2 – WSTRN Cover (Volume 11, 2016)
Blossoms have produced several golden covers since breaking through last year, most notably Talk Tonight by Oasis and Manic Monday by The Bangles. However, it was this live lounge cover of R&B collective WSTRN which caught the eye of many. Did anybody really expect this indie pop five-piece to cover a track like this? Probably not, but it was great and even included a Tom Ogden rap.
9. Arctic Monkeys – Hold On We’re Going Home – Drake Cover (Volume 8, 2013)
Entry number two from Sheffield’s finest. If somebody was to listen to this live lounge with no previous knowledge of the song, it would be hard to believe it wasn’t a band performing their own track. It is once again Turner at his best, taking a genre and putting his stamp on it. This is just another example of why the Arctics are considered by many as Radio 1 Live Lounge gold.
8. Biffy Clyro – Umbrella – Rihanna Cover (Volume 2, 2007)
Mon the Biff. This Live Lounge was performed in the same year Puzzle was released, so let’s just compare ‘Living is a Problem…’ to Rihanna’s breakthrough pop hit Umbrella. Exactly. Once again, the epitome of Radio 1’s Live Lounge is hearing covers like this, and of course the Kilmarnock trio smashed it.
7. Franz Ferdinand – What You Waiting For? – Gwen Stefani Cover (Volume 1, 2006)
Another piece of genius from the first ever Live Lounge album. Hearing the Scottish indie rockers take themselves far from too seriously and showing a different side to Take Me Out and Do You Wanna was just fantastic. It was bold choices like this back in 2006 that paved the way for the experimental Live Lounge covers years down the line, so a big thanks to Franz.
6. Pigeon Detectives – Girlfriend – Avril Lavigne Cover (Volume 2, 2007)
The strange thing about this cover, in comparison to similair attempts, was that this example of a noughties indie rock band taking on a cheesy pop song sounded far from out of place. It wasn’t a surprise to see Pigeons’ frontman Matt Bowman opt for a song like this, based on his consistently outgoing nature on stage. What was in fact a surprise, was how much it actually worked.
5. Arctic Monkeys – You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse Cover (Volume 2, 2007)
One of two Amy Winehouse songs in the top 5, and also the third Arctic Monkeys song to make the list. Amy herself was a regular feature in the Live Lounge around this time, and I’m sure she was pretty pleased with the job Alex Turner did with one of her most well-known hits. This was Favourite Worst Nightmare era Arctics at their best – very Yorkshire and very good.
4. Catfish and the Bottlemen – Black Skinhead – Kanye West Cover (Volume 10, 2015)
Van McCann is no stranger to a cover, but this was Catfish at their finest. Combining Kanye West, The Black Keys and Kasabian, it was pure genius, and if people didn’t know that this band was something special before then they most certainly did afterwards. Those Black Skinhead drums into Howlin’ For you and then into Shoot the Runner – it was perfect Live Lounge material.
3. The Futureheads – Hounds of Love – Kate Bush Cover (Volume 1, 2006)
The Futureheads had already covered Hounds of Love and had a top 10 hit with the studio version before they went into the Live Lounge to perform it. However, their version of the Kate Bush track was still one of the stand-out tracks on the first ever Live Lounge album, and was another catalyst for the future success of the concept.
2. Paolo Nutini – Rehab – Amy Winehouse Cover (Volume 2, 2007)
An early live lounge favourite and a strong contender for the number one spot, this Amy Winehouse cover from Paolo Nutini earns a silver medal in our northern Live Lounge top 20. Nutini performed the song a number of times after this when on tour, making it his own in such a way that it could have easily been a single for the Scottish singer songwriter. Great voice, great song and ultimately a great cover.
1. Arctic Monkeys – Love Machine – Girls Aloud Cover (Volume 1, 2006)
Yes, the winners are the kings of the Live Lounge cover – Arctic Monkeys. Their fourth appearance in our Top 20 was in fact their very first Live Lounge performance. Reason for the number one spot? The idea of Arctic Monkeys performing a Girls Aloud song is the kind of reason that so many people love the concept of Radio 1’s Live Lounge. It’s a great cover, and Turner stumbling into laughter in the middle just sums it up.
SO, that’s your lot. If you think we missed a classic northern live lounge cover from one of the albums, then feel free to get in touch and we’d be happy to give it a late honourable mention. I’m sure there will be plenty more good enough to make this list in the future, so roll on the future live lounges!