Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cover of the Week – Yael Naim "Toxic"

Weren't we at this point a few weeks ago?

Yes, as a matter of fact, we started this "Cover of the Week" feature with the traditional bluegrass trio Nickel Creek doing a live version of the Britney Spears "classic."

But I had to post this song again. Because I was so impressed with this version of "Toxic" as performed by Yael Naim, a new artist that you may not familiar with but have definitely heard.

Naim is the one singing "New Soul" on all those ubiquitous MacBook Air ads. From that fragment, you might characterize her as new breed of "fragile" singers a la Sia. But what you don't hear is how the song eventually kicks in with hand-clapping, a rollicking marching band and full-throttle backing vocals that culminates with an acapella choir. (OK, many of you have heard the full version: I just learned that it actually entered the Billboard Top 10 earier this month)

To my ears at least, Naim is an artist in the Fiona Apple mold, albeit a little more on the melodic and mainstream side. The child of Sephardic Jewish parents, the French-born Naim now lives in Israel. You see a lot of her multi-cultural influences in "Toxic," which is softer than "New Soul" and proudly states its uniqueness with Middle Eastern flutes performing the closing coda. She also performs it as a slow ballad (no surprise) dripping with sexual yearning and sensuality.

Play "Toxic" by Yael Naim.

And here's the YouTube Video of her performing it live as a solo piano piece. The sexual tension within the song, completely missing from Ms. Britney's version, just drips off the keys, I have to say.

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