Yesterday, we compiled a list of 10 Unexpectedly Awesome Cover Songs, but if Charli XCX would’ve performed this INSANELY AMAZING cover of “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys one day earlier, we would’ve had to turn it into a Top 11 list.
Charli XCX is a rising star in electro circuit, with an acclaimed album (True Romance earned the coveted Best New Music rating from Pitchfork) and a massive Hot 100 hit (she co-wrote Icona Pop’s irresistible “I Love It”) under her belt. During a stop off at Chicago’s Borderline Music yesterday, she surprised fans who turned up for an in-store performance with a revolutionary cover of the Backstreet Boys 1999 megasmash “I Want It That Way.” Her take on the pop classic adds a more lovelorn, obsessive element to the song that makes it less schmoopy and more haunting than the original. She also makes the interesting creative decision to tweak the pacing of the title line, rushing through it instead of going with the song’s melody. It’s little interpretative moments like this that differentiate great cover songs from what you hear at your local karaoke bar on Friday nights, and the reason why we can’t get enough of this version.