When I first read that Taylor was releasing a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s September, I fell into the classic stages of grief. Swift’s music has always evoked something between indifference and repulsion for me, and here she was with a new version of one of the most beloved funk songs ever.
Covering a song as important to American popular music as September presents a big challenge for any artist, particularly for Taylor. Swift is so white her lawyer literally had to issue a statement against the white supremacists claiming her as their queen, whereas Earth, Wind & Fire are one of the most quintessentially black bands ever. Some of the responses around the internet seemed to take umbrage that she was even attempting to cover it, by nature of who she is.
Fair or not, it’s true that Taylor’s version is certainly underwhelming. She wiped all of the soul and joy out of one of the most jubilant, enjoyable tracks that’s ever been recorded, replacing it with breathy vocals, a lazy banjo, and hazy production. It got me thinking about how many other white artists have put a spin on this classic song — and somewhat shockingly, Taylor's wasn’t the worst.
This comes off light and fun, but then you watch Pomplamoose make twee faces at the camera and perish from secondhand embarrassment.
8. Annen May Kantereit and Martha Gunn
It seems like this group, hailing all the way from Berlin, was having a lot of fun singing this song and their fans must feel the same way because this clip has over one million views. Well, they had a good time, so that's all that matters right?
7. Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick
This is just a copy-paste of the original, except Timberlake and Anna Kendrick’s vocals are incredibly processed, and by the way, it’s on the soundtrack for Trolls, one of the dumbest movies ever made.
6. Hyannis Sound
To be honest, it’s hard for me to even write anything critical about this one — even if it’s a capella. They just seem so earnest and sincere, so I’ll just give you the highlights. Peep the growl at 1:30 and the breakdown at around the two minute mark.
5. Taylor Swift
Imagine my surprise.
4. Dave Bennett
Judging purely by the brooding, moody picture from the album cover, I can only imagine the emotional depth from which Dave Bennett pulled to bring us this version. It kind of shreds, though.
3. Mustered Courage
I never would have imagined that an Earth, Wind & Fire song could evoke the image of square-dancing, but I guess anything is possible. This bluegrass band from Australia, despite my protest, made my foot tap a little bit.
2. John Tesh
This one is a palate cleanser, capturing all the magic of the original, but with all the sexiness of a saxophone.
1. Michel Stax
Everything sounds better in French.