Bono can rest easy. While he recuperates from some nasty back surgery, his day job as U2″s lead singer is completely safe. Lee DeWyze may have won “American Idol,” but his first single, a cover of U2″s “Beautiful Day” really makes us miss that Irish lad.
Awash in layers and layers and more layers of strings and guitars and drums, DeWyze”s version is a bit of a high speed collision, all designed to hide the fact that his voice is serviceable, but nothing exceptional.
Before I go further, I have a confession to make: I don”t watch “American Idol.” Even though I think Carrie Underwood is truly talented singer and Kelly Clarkson is a strong belter, “American Idol” is nothing but a glorified karaoke contest. On my worst days, I feel it mocks everything that goes into being a real artist in terms of sweat equity and earning your audience by the dozens by playing live, not by the millions on live TV. Other days, I feel a slight sense of resignation that the world gets what it deserves and if what it wants are insta-singers, so be it.
Having said that, I have nothing invested in DeWyze or runner-up Crystal Bowersox so I”m able to judge “Beautiful Day” with no assumptions or expectations. And guess what? It sounds like bad karaoke. If you”re going to do a cover of a song (and again, I know this goes against “AI”s” entire premise), you need to bring something to it or tell us something about yourself in your choice. One of the worst cover songs ever is Faith Hill”s version of Janis Joplin”s “Piece of My Heart” (which is itself a cover of Erma Franklin”s 1967 original). Hill sounds like she”s singing a nursery rhyme and it”s an insult to what Joplin”s Big Brother & The Holding Company did. One of the best covers ever? Bruce Springsteen”s version of Jimmy Cliff”s “Trapped.” He slows it down and turns it into an intense, tortured song with the promise of redemption. DeWyze”s “Beautiful Day” falls somewhere in between. He brings absolutely nothing to his interpretation via his vocal delivery or musical arrangement. It”s not offensive; it”s simply nothing at all.I know nothing about where DeWyze sees himself as an artist and in what direction he’s headed.
DeWyze”s version is already soaring up iTunes” chart, but that means little other than all those folks who invested the last several weeks to Team Lee want to have something to show for their time.
We don”t know if having the first single be a cover, as opposed to a new song, will be an “AI” trend (it”s not like the atrocious, overwrought first singles have done much for any of the winners anyway), and the first single is never any indication of where the winner is going with his or her forthcoming album, but our advice is that if this is the way of the future, the winner use little more insight and thought in his or her selection.
What do you think of DeWyze’s cover of “Beautiful Day”?