BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, Vol. 5
The presenter may have changed but the winning format stays the same. BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, Vol. 5 is the first installment from the hugely successful series to feature performances largely recorded on the mid-morning show hosted by DJ Fearne Cotton, who replaced the long-running Jo Whiley at the end of 2009. Like its previous chart-topping releases, the 38-song track list includes live renditions of both original songs and covers of contemporary chart hits, recorded at the BBC Radio 1 and Maida Vale studios in London. While some artists opt to perform straightforward versions of both their own songs (Paloma Faith's "New York," Mark Ronson's "Bang Bang Bang") and other acts (N-Dubz' "The Script Medley," Jason Derülo's cover of Plan B's "She Said"), the majority use the opportunity to experiment, which is often where the most excitement and intrigue occur. Marina & the Diamonds turn 3OH!3's wolf-whistling "Starstrukk" into a gorgeous piano-based torch song, Scissor Sisters reworks Kylie Minogue's glittery dance anthem "All the Lovers" into an authentic country hoedown, while Miike Snow adds an ambient ethereal feel to La Roux's nu-synth hit "In for the Kill." But as usual, the standout moments are provided by the artists who embrace the album's concept wholeheartedly. Taio Cruz transforms Mumford & Sons' folk-led "Little Lion Man" into an electro-pop stomper, Kelly Rowland turns Kasabian's pounding "Underdog" into a soulful acoustic ballad, while Example provides a rather unexpectedly tender rendition of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream." Not all the performances are as successful. Jay Sean's stripped-down rendition of Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" only exposes the original's shortcomings, while Roll Deep's grime interpretation of "Telephone" sucks all the fun out of the Lady Gaga/Beyonce number one. But with its one-take recording process and varied array of artists, it's almost a given that several skippable tracks will appear. Thanks to some unlikely risk-takers and stunning live performances, the Radio 1's Live Lounge's fifth volume ensures the brand still remains an interesting and unmissable listen.