New Elton John covers album Revamp features everyone from Ed Sheeran to Mary J Blige. But are we better off sticking with the originals? Amy Dawson is your guide
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by Q Tip feat Demi Lovato
A Tribe Called Quest’s Q Tip has given a soulful, funky update to this classic duet, featuring smoky vocals from chart princess Demi Lovato. While we will always hold a special place in our hearts for the sweet, upbeat Motown pastiche of the original (and for the pink dungarees worn by Kiki Dee in the video), this cover version acts like that song’s cool older sister. After Elton’s appearance on the last A Tribe Called Quest album, it was obviously time to return the favour.
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word by Mary J Blige
The legendary Mary J Blige completely reinvents Elton’s classic 1976 piano ballad, making it sound like a long-lost 1990s R&B classic. Mixing low, loose and slinking production with Blige’s typically scorching vocals, this track has had new levels of emotion injected into it.
Tiny Dancer by Florence + The Machine
The soaring chorus in Tiny Dancer, a song capturing the spirit of 1970s California, makes it many people’s favourite Elton track but at first it was a chart underdog and not even released as a single in the UK. This arrangement doesn’t mess much with the original but it’s a classy and beautiful cover, subtly layering Florence Welsh’s spinetingling vocals so they sound like chiming angels in the chorus.
Candle In The Wind by Ed Sheeran
Candle In The Wind was written in honour of Marilyn Monroe in 1973 and reworked for Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997 to get to No.1 pretty much everywhere. Swapping Elton’s piano for acoustic guitar, there’s nothing technically wrong with this faithful take from chart-conquerer Ed Sheeran but it’s just too bleak a song to cover.
Someone Saved My Life Tonight by Mumford and Sons
We could do without the folk rockers’ turgid, mawkish take on Elton’s 1975 hit. The soft, bittersweet march of the original, a troubling but redemptive tale about being saved from a dark psychological place, feels in the wrong hands here.
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me by Miley Cyrus
Miley’s voice sounds raw and gorgeous on this woozy, dreamy cover, which builds with echoing percussion, piano tumbles and electric guitar towards a massive chorus. While she sounds fantastic, this doesn’t add masses to the original. We’d rather take the version performed by Elton and the much-missed George Michael – their first performance of it at Wembley was one of the most feverish live moments of the 1990s.