Many years back now, our friends at Fearless Records released a compilation record called Punk Goes Crunk. On it, a number of popular alternative bands covered popular hip-hop songs and the Warped Tour scene went wild. Cover songs, it turns out, is always good business. So good, in fact, that even a superstar like Harry Styles can benefit from making someone else’s song his own.
This brings us to the video at the top of this post. Over the weekend, Harry Styles made a surprise appearance at a tiny venue in the UK as part of his promotional efforts for his recently released debut album. In the middle of a set that featured most of the record, Styles and his band took fans by surprise with a moody cover of Kanye West’s Life of Pablo opener “Ultralight Beam.” Fans instantly reached for their phones, which is how the clip above came to live online.
It would be silly to claim Styles made “Ultralight Beam” great because the simple fact of the matter is that this song has always been something special. Kanye had been influenced by Gospel music throughout his career, but the release of “Ultralight Beam” marked a far more direct adaptation of that sound. Styles’ take strips away much of what made the song feel as joyous as it did, but there is still a lot of heart to enjoy.
The success of Styles’ small room performance has given many hope that similar events will follow in the months ahead. While we cannot confirm or deny that is the case, we do know the former One Direction heart throb will be performing all over the country on his first headlining tour later this year. Unfortunately, it’s already sold out. So if you’re reading this and don’t have tickets you might be out of luck. Sorry!