Last week, a couple of the covers of “Applause” which I featured were by singers whom I’d never chanced upon before, and their versions elicited not merely approbation from me, but also an inclination to listen to what else they’d done, and so doing I was not disappointed, deciding then to compile a playlist for each of them.
The first of the two is a singer in Sydney, Australia, Craig Yopp, whose covers have attracted considerable attention on Youtube – thus far these are all he has offered there, though somehow I have the idea that a debut as a songwriter is also on his agenda. But be that as it may, his videos are stripped-down renditions of some of today’s most popular songs, photographed simply in black and white, and currently there are three which stand out, for his delivery does draw forth something moving from “Come and Get It” or “We Can’t Stop” and thus renders these tunes worth listening to after all. (Rather more substantial to begin with, of course, is Rihanna and Mikky Ekko’s “Stay,” a number on which Yopp bestows an equal sensitivity.) Each has been shortened by him, a procedure which in his hands does not detract from them at all, but instead brings out a depth of feeling that was more latent than patent in the case of those two originals.
In some of his covers at least, Yopp shows why songs such as these, whose lyrics are often so markedly thin – certainly when encountered on the page by those of us who just like to read – tend nonetheless to be taken as anthems by the young: here so much really does result from the tone of feeling adopted in their recital or the expanse of spirit devoted to whistling or humming them, and in singing them again something as minor yet also as sweet as a sigh or a vocal tremor can make all the difference in the world.
The range of Yopp’s own voice is situated towards the upper reaches of the register, and so when he descends on occasion for various choral effects, or when he lets the rawness be heard, it conveys an especial pleasure.
In his versions the very shortness constitutes a hook in itself (this I mentioned already in the previous text), which leads one to hope for more, and prompts one’s interest in what he’ll be doing and where he’ll be next – or a year or two from now, for that matter.
Once one has listened to them a few times, what one might begin to hear in this music is a hint of that slight awkwardness which is met with from time to time in the demeanours or the personæ of those who exude self-assurance – the two qualities may even go hand in hand, insofar as it could be precisely by virtue of their forwardness that they don’t quite fit in to the world around them, or at least not yet.