Looking back over the course of American Idol season 13 so far, it’s been easy to criticize Malaya Watson — I and others have said she maybe should have waited another year or two to let her voice mature more before auditioning. But this week, she proved us wrong when she took on “When I Was Your Man.”
And so that’s where today’s music battle comes into play, with two singers from Idol and two from The Voice who have covered the beautiful Bruno Mars hit (not counting auditions).
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First up is Idol season 12 winner Candice Glover. She performed “When I Was Your Man” during the Top 4 Redux week, and providing one of the standout performances of the night. At the time, I wasn’t really familiar with this song even though I knew and loved many of Bruno Mars’ other tunes, but I’m a big fan of it now.
We all know that Candice Glover is one of the most talented singers to come out of American Idol. It’s just unfortunate that she had to compete in a season full of drama at the judges’ table — but we’ll always have performances like these to watch back on YouTube time and again. The power in her voice is undeniable. And rewatching the video back, I can’t help but get the same feelings all over again.
(Incidentally, the guest mentor that week was none other than current judge Harry Connick, Jr.)
Just six days later, Kris Thomas performed the same song during the Live Playoffs of The Voice season 4. It payed off for him because America voted him through to the next round, though he was eliminated two weeks later.
For his take on “When I Was Your Man,” his voice sounds kind of thin at times. He does deliver some beautiful notes, but overall I wasn’t as taken with this rendition as I was with Candice’s. Bruno infuses many if not all of his songs with so much soul, and a lot of that was missing when Kris sang.
This past fall, during season 5 of The Voice, the song made another appearance — this time by Will Champlin. Now, this cover was done during the Knockout Rounds, not the live shows, but I still thought I should include it here. Will went on to become the runner-up that season, so he obviously had the talent to take him all the way to the finale.
Will’s voice sounds nothing like Bruno Mars’. Will has more of a grit and raspiness to his voice that I loved listening to when he was on The Voice. That comes out in full force during his take on “When I Was Your Man.”
The only moment I didn’t like was at the 2:52 mark where he botched that big note — which is my favorite part of the entire song, by the way; I cringed when he didn’t nail it. But other than that, he made the song his own just by the very nature of the way he sounds, and gave it the Will Champlin treatment.
Will lost to Matthew Schuler in this Knockout, but was saved by Adam Levine. His performance begins at 1:50 below:
This week on American Idol, the Top 10 took on Top 10 songs. For Malaya Watson, she went with some Bruno Mars. I was very worried when she said she was doing this song — because, let’s face it, it’s Malaya.
But she was smart for going this route because the song is more intimate and allowed her to keep it soft and not belt out big notes the entire time — which has been one of her weaknesses in the past. And amazingly, even when she did get louder, she stayed on pitch, and ended up delivering what is possibly her best performance to date. Jennifer Lopez got the goosies — did you?
To see who won this battle, let’s first break it down by show.
On the American Idol side, it’s Candice Glover vs. Malaya Watson. As good as Malaya was, she’s still no match for Candice — you feel something when Candice sings songs like these and the power in her voice is unmatched.
For The Voice, Will Champlin obviously takes it because Kris Thomas’ voice sounded thin at times, whereas Will’s has so much depth and a gravely/raspy tone that’s fantastic.
Now, it’s Candice vs. Will. I just said that Candice is unmatched, and as much as I enjoyed Will’s take on “When I Was Your Man,” he did botch the best part of the song and Candice’s was virtually flawless. Candice Glover wins this battle!
Whose cover of “When I Was Your Man” is your favorite? Is Candice the clear winner or does someone else take the crown in your eyes? Vote in the poll below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
American Idol airs Wednesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 9pm on FOX, and The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.
(Images courtesy of FOX and NBC)