Right around the two-minute mark in John Legend's cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," his voice breaks and cracks a few times, sounding like it might break permanently, a messenger finally worn out from delivering such heightened emotions.
Adele's captivating single from her latest album, "21," which has been holding strong on the charts (this week at No. 3), is perfect for the kind of cover treatment Legend has applied. Stripping the song down to its roots, nothing more than voices grappling with its tumult, he's turned "Rolling in the Deep" into an old-time spiritual, something that could be sung in a dark church on a stormy night when no one feels like the dawn will strike again.
The Internet, being the industrious meme-combining machine that it is, has birthed a mash-up of Adele's version and Legend's version but they are better taken as seperate expressions of a song that's so powerful, it'll probably proliferate many more copies of itself. Country-tonk version, anyone? How about chillwave?
-- Margaret Wappler
Photo: Legend performing at a workshop called "The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House." Credit: Roger L. Wollenberg / EPA