Years & Years Cover Britney’s ‘Toxic’ at Manchester Gig
Years & Years have been growing in popularity by leaps and bounds over the past year thanks to their debut EP Y & Y in February and their first full album Communion, which arrived in early July. Although standout track "King" was released in late February as the upcoming album's fourth single, it didn't truly gain momentum until the summer when it rapidly became a nighttime staple at (gay) clubs because of its shimmering beat and self-empowerment narrative.
Years & Years have spent the rest of 2015 touring in support of Communion, and their recent gig in Manchester gave fans an unexpected surprise: a cover of Britney's "Toxic."
Although fans at the gig erupted in screams once they recognized what was in fact happening, the cover falls into the category of "covers at live shows that didn't need to happen." The quality of the recording isn't great, admittedly, but even still it's impossible to ignore frontman Olly Alexander's lack of enthusiasm during the performance. His movements are minimal: some pacing back and forth, some unnecessary jumping, and plenty of strange hand gestures.
But the real killer is Alexander's vocals. The overall key of the song itself seems to have changed to suit the band—it has a haunting yet strangely/vaguely tropical sound to it (like most of Communion)—but Alexander's vocals noticeably struggle to hit the notes that made the original such a kicker.
While it makes sense (in theory) to cover songs to enhance the mood of a gig, to surprise fans, or to just have fun, it doesn't make sense to cover one that you might not actually have the chops to execute properly.
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