A great cover version lives its own life. As a child of the original, it carries DNA forwards, but shines on its own terms. You recognise the mother’s eyes or the father’s nose, but the face itself is new.
If English isn’t your first language: focus on the many ways LaVance pronounces the word me. Sometimes he makes me sound like may, sometimes he stretches me, sometimes he sings me in standard, dictionary style, to rhyme with bee. Why make those choices where he does? What texture does he add to the song?
Me is one of those little words you learn early in English class. It’s one of those words that can turn into a fossil. Make sure that you keep it plastic and alive. Set me free to dance outside the dictionary.
It’s worth remembering that you’ll sing the line focus on me over 20 times in the song. The phrase is a form of punctuation and of percussion. But, if you sing every single focus on me the same, you’ll soon sound like a bratty teenager or an annoyingly needy lover.
If you want your audience to sympathise with you, shade the sound of focus on me a little. Subtly, or as obviously as LaVance. You choose. Let your backing singers provide the metronome-regular focus on me as a backdrop to your detail.
It’s your job to charge your focus on me with meaning. What’s in your mind when you sing the line? Ariana speaks about what focus on me means to her here.
Scott Bradlee, the musical mastermind behind Post Modern Jukebox says that he wanted to reference Ray Charles’ Hit the Road Jack in his cover version of Focus:
What do you think?
© Sing Better English, 2016