One of the biggest radio stations in the world, and one of my personal favourites, has got to be BBC Radio 1. Over the years, they have gotten some of the best interviews and performances from the biggest celebrities (artists, actors and entertainers) in the world, along with hosting some of the huge events within the music industry. However, over the past decade and a half, one innovative thing that the station has become particularly known for has been its live lounges. The Radio 1 (as well as their twin station 1Xtra) live lounges have given rise to some of the biggest and best live performances from some of the best in the industry, with, at the same time, being a place for upcoming musicians to showcase their talent and perform their original music. However, one thing that the Radio 1 and 1xtra live lounges have also been particularly known for is having these incredible artists perform a cover as well as their own music. Beginning with Jo Whiley back in the mid 2000’s, other live lounge hosts have included Fearne Cotton and Sara Cox. So here is a run down of some of my favourite Radio 1 and 1Xtra live lounge covers by some incredible up and coming artists.

British R&B singer-songwriter Mabel has had an incredible couple of years following her breakthrough into the mainstream, with her first UK top-10 single Finders Keepers and supporting Harry Styles on tour; along with embarking on her own UK and European tour and her 2019 Brit nomination. Back in November 2017, Mabel took to the 1Xtra studio to perform an incredible cover of Chris Brown’s classic R&B hit Yo (excuse me miss). With soft and sweet vocals, Mable puts a more gentle and feminine spin on the track. Taking us back to the 2000’s, Mabel definitely brings that retro vibe to this performance. And with some perfect runs, and incredible harmonising with her backing singers (all of which add to the 2000’s vibe), she definitely captures the essence of the original track. With a simple but sweet performance, Mabel hits every note perfectly, making this cover an absolute must listen to.

Mabel in the 1Xtra live lounge

Another singer-songwriter who has been killing the game lately is British artist, Mahalia. With her classic R&B vocals, always infused with some elements of soul, it is impossible not to fall in love with her voice and have her tracks on repeat. Most recent is her new track Do Not Disturb, released earlier this year. During her visit to the 1Xtra live lounge last summer, she decided to perform a mash-up of Mario Winans I Don’t Wanna Know and J Cole’s Kevin’s heart. Right from the get go, Mahalia’s unique vibe is instantly discernible and shines through during this cover. Fusing the two tracks together perfectly, and putting her own R&B spin on Cole’s rap track, the soulful melody that runs throughout is absolutely addictive. Mahalia also highlights her incredible versatility as she includes a few rap lines while also adding in some impressive runs which are reminiscent of Amy Winehouse. Switching up the vibe of the original tracks, Mahalia gives us a more sultry and jazz infused sound, which works perfectly with her addictive vocals and will have you playing this cover non-stop. 

Mahalia in the 1Xtra live lounge

Working with artists such as Tom Misch, Jonas Blue, Avicii and Saweetie, Zak Abel is quickly becoming one of the biggest new artists in the UK music scene right now. While in the Live Lounge back in August 2016, alongside Samm Henshaw & Ray BLK, he covered Mario’s classic R&B hit Let Me Love You. Right from the first note, we hear Zak’s trademark vocals, perfectly complimented by Sam and Ray, and some absolutely beautiful harmonies coming through. Another incredible performance from Zak, his relaxed, soulful vocals fit perfectly with this track and make for a fantastic cover, with his chill and infectiously happy performance making it one of my favourite live lounges to watch and listen to. 

Zak Able in the 1Xtra live lounge

Jorja Smith, another rising star on the music scene, has been blowing us all away with her incredible vocals over the last few years; especially following the release of her debut album Lost and Found last August. Over the last two years, Jorja has certainly been no stranger to the Radio 1/1Xtra live lounge studios. However, one performance that stands out is her cover of Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River which she covered when she was last in the live lounge back in February. Of course, in true Jorja fashion, the first notes we hear are some incredible falsetto runs which are instantly captivating. With a sultry and soulful vibe, Jorja’s vocals are impeccable as she shows off her incredible vocal range and agility. Despite being a cover, Jorja still manages to make the track distinctively hers and impresses once again with her genuine, raw talent and a voice that is impossible not to love. 

Jorja Smith Radio 1 live lounge

So make sure to subscribe to Radio 1 and 1Xtra‘s Youtube pages to see all the other incredible live lounge performances by some of your favourite artists, and make sure you don’t miss any live lounges coming up.

Written By Stevie Carter

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