There’s been a flurry of cover albums in recent weeks from some of pop music’s most venerated singers—Annie Lennox, Tony Bennett (with Lady Gaga), and, most notably, Aretha Franklin. Next month, Bette Midler will add her name to the list with It’s the Girls, an album that celebrates girl groups. Franklin’s divas cover album has the most famous diva of them all covering Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Midler, too, takes on a tune that arrived well after her own initial heyday, TLC’s 1995 classic, “Waterfalls.”
And while Midler’s easy-listening interpretation, with a mellow piano and light percussion-driven arrangement, is unsurprisingly well sung on a technical level, it’s missing the oomph of the original. When TLC released the song nearly 20 years ago, with the AIDS epidemic still front-page news, they intended it as social commentary that would resonate with their fans without sounding overly preachy. Midler certainly isn’t preaching here either (“I never thought I would have the nerve to sing it,” she’s said), but when she sings, “Three letters took him to his final resting place,” it just doesn’t carry the same emotional weight as it did coming from T-Boz and Chilli. And without the late Left Eye’s career-defining rap, the song just can’t be done justice.
(Via The Advocate.)