The late Amy Winehouse is always a challenging act to cover, but Sam Fender did terrific justice to the late singer-songwriter when he stepped foot in the famous BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge back in 2020 to take on ‘Back To Black’.
Over the last 20 years since its creation by Jo Whiley, the segment has morphed into is an institution that has produced countless unforgettable moments. These range from Arctic Monkeys taking on Girls Aloud’s ‘Love Machine’ to IDLES mashing up The Streets’ debut album Original Pirate Material.
At the height of its popularity, the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge had the potential for stars to be born and allowed artists to show off their talents by excelling at the famous Maida Vale studios.
Perhaps the most notable Live Lounge performance was when Winehouse herself appeared in the series back in 2007 to perform an acoustic version of her and Mark Ronson’s cover of The Zutons song ‘Valerie’. The pair’s original version appeared on his second album. However, her Live Lounge was additionally released as a stand-alone single and also charted internationally.
Despite radio being less of a gatekeeper due to the growth of social media, which allows artists to circumvent the traditional system, appearing on the Live Lounge remains a right of passage. Over the course of the campaign for Sam Fender’s 2019 debut, Hypersonic Missiles, the North Shields singer notched up a hat-trick of appearances on the hallowed stage.
Usually, artists have to cover tracks on the current BBC Radio 1 playlist. Thankfully, Fender was granted permission to bend the rules on his third visit to Maida Vale and elected to deliver a haunting rendition of the classic Winehouse track.
Speaking about his decision to cover Amy, he explained: “Back To Black is such a long-standing favourite of mine, and Amy remains a national treasure. I love that album too, I hopefully did the track some justice. You’ll all be the judge of that.”
When you choose to take on a song that is so beloved, you need to make sure it’s right and not fall into the tempting trap of imitation. Instead, Fender crafted a soul-stirring arrangement and moulded the song beautifully in his image.
Listen to the captivating cover below.