Is a cover song still a cover song when it completely reverses the message of the original? Before you answer, listen to T-Pain’s ridiculous but irresistible reworking of Lorde’s “Royals.”
Lorde’s version, which bowled over Grammy voters last month, is a bouncy critique of the kind of excesses you might see in a T-Pain video: “But every song’s like gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom, blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room/We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams,” sings Lorde, before also mocking Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece, jet planes, islands, and tigers on a gold leash.
Lorde (pictured above left) didn’t call out T-Pain or anyone else by name, but she was talking about rappers. Adult contemporary singers almost never have tigers in their videos anymore.
T-Pain (above right) either completely missed Lorde’s message, or more likely, heard it and didn’t care. His version of “Royals” ups the excess.
“Seems like yesterday we was drinking Crown Royal,” he auto-croons. “We ain’t really give a fuck, now they try to hate on us, and I just party on my bus, let me see you get loose, girl. … Work hard, play hard, money over everything.”
While Lorde has “never seen a diamond in the flesh,” T-Pain imagines what it would be like “if I didn’t have diamonds on my chain.” He doesn’t mention his timepiece, but it’s probably just an oversight.
Lorde, four minutes for rebuttal.
Hear T-Pain’s joyous, “money over everything” version:
And here’s Lorde’s bitter, sanctimonious original (Kidding! They’re both just great):