This was better than the original


That's Jacquie Lee on The Voice covering Serena Ryder's Stompa and just walking all over it.

Is it bad form to say so?

Last 5 posts by David Byron


  1. peej says

    Hmm… wasn't familiar with Ms. Ryder (thank you for that)… Just listened to both, and I think I'll respectfully disagree. Ms. Lee's voice, at least as heard here, lacks range and depth; to conceal that, she uses the technique of many current pop divas: Histrionics, high pitch, and volume, which to me != awesome. I prefer Ryder's original, with its more laid-back approach and her more flexible and powerful voice. But I enjoyed 'em both. Eh, it's all subjective, natch… de gustibus and all that…

  2. Kasparov says

    I am in agreement with peej, I prefer the original. That is not to say that Ms. Lee lacks talent, merely that my preference is the original. As to your query, I do not believe it bad form to state your opinion on music in such a manner.

  3. JTM says

    @David "Is it bad form to say so?"

    I don't think so – We should celebrate when an artist is able to build on someone's work and transform it into a new thing that's worthwhile on its own. We'd be poorer if Johnny Cash hadn't covered Trent Reznor's "Hurt," or if Jeff Buckley hadn't covered Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." And I'm always blown away when I hear Cat Powers cover "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction":

    Jacquie Lee brought a lot more energy to the song. Serena Ryder seemed to drone on and on (and it looked like the gimmicky stomping was distracting her).

  4. says

    in terms of great covers, one of the most memorable was hendrix's version of dylan's 'all along the watchtower' – also very good, tuck and patti's 'castles made of sand/little wing'

  5. Ryan says

    Ms. Lee is certainly the more talented live performer in this case; I've never been particularly impressed with Serena Ryder's live work (she's pretty monotone in her live singing).

    The record version of the song is considerably better than Lee's performance, but it benefits from studio acoustics and mixing; I'd be curious to see what Lee could do with it in that environment.

  6. Bean says

    Is it bad form, David? No. Can't say I'm impressed with your assessment, though. The young lass there delivered an overwrought performance. Serena Ryder has been floating in the background of the Canadian music scene for years, writing very wonderful and unusual songs that garnered her no publicity whatsoever outside the country. Sure this Jacquie Lee is a talented future pop star. Serena entered the pop scene because being a talented folk-pop singer-songwriter in Canada hardly brings home the bacon, but she did it on her own terms. Like Tegan and Sara, she added her own little lyrical twists to her pop songs and as far as I'm concerned, anything that gets these amazing artists into more ear drums is a positive thing.
    Conclusion: Ms. Lee might be a great pop singer and performer but she couldn't hold a candle to Serena Ryder on artistic merit.
    Here's some pre-Stoma Serena.

  7. Justin Kittredge says

    I liked the original better. The soothing voice itself counts for something. Sounds like music before she even does anything interesting with that instrument of hers. The cover sounded like a 90 second cram session. She has gotta impress everyone in 90 seconds but no real emotion seemed in it to me, just sounded like artifice. Even if she had a full 3 minutes I am not sure I'd want to replay that cover version.

    On a side note, this isn't a fair comparison but I am gonna make it anyway, AGT FTW!!

  8. Mike says

    Ha, clearly I need to delurk in order to post my favorite left-field cover – Britney Spears via Yael Naim:

  9. Justin Kittredge says

    Jacquie Lee's higher pitched voice is probably actually the main reason I liked her performance less. Almost tinny. Lower does not always mean better, but I think this time for me it does.

  10. livingphoenix says

    I think Jacquie missed the point here. The heavy rhythm in the original is evocative in its own right, without requiring vocal gymnastics. If she wanted to flex her vocal muscle and stay true to the song, there are a number of good Serena Ryder tracks that she could have pulled from (the second half of Is it OK is full of them).

    I, of course, a bit biased, having recently seen Serena here in the States in a small venue. Good show, great music, and (most importantly) a performer who was just having a great time.

  11. Mann42 says

    Having heard of neither before, and only listening to the performances linked, I personally prefer Ms. Lee, but it's a matter of taste. I feel Ms. Lee has far better resonance and vibrato, but Ms Ryder has a more solid control of range.

    Where Lee feels energetic, Ryder feels almost somber in tone. Lee comes across as a better performer, whereas Ryder comes across as a better musician.

  12. JTM says

    @David "When I was 16, I was still struggling against Row Your Boat…"

    I never could get that one… the "Merrily Merrily" part is way out of my range.

    Thanks all for sharing the videos, some interesting stuff out there.

  13. Part Time Zombie says

    it certainly is bad form to watch or comment publicly on The Voice, or The X Factor, or any of the dreadful, exploitative "Talent" shows on TV. You are encouraging them.

  14. says

    @Part Time Zombie

    it certainly is bad form to watch or comment publicly on The Voice, or The X Factor, or any of the dreadful, exploitative "Talent" shows on TV. You are encouraging them.

    I find that The Voice is different from AGT, The X-Factor, and American Idol. On The Voice, the talent pool is much stronger and more concentrated, and the production wastes much less time on fluff, hype, and staged interactions.

    Talent shows (see also Chopped) are a relatively pure expression of free market values, and their formulaic presentation can be forgiven in a culture that prohibits blood sports. ;)

  15. says


    Why are you watching shitty TV? Did you run out of things to do?

    I'm watching it with my wife, a vocalist and musician, because she is very ill and sometimes finds light entertainment soothing after a long day of chemotherapeutic side effects.

    Thanks for asking!

  16. JTM says


    I'm terribly sorry to hear that – I wish you both well, and am sending good thoughts your way.

    Do you check email at david AT popehat?