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Take Cover: Fun.’s ‘Some Nights’

Nate Ruess and Andrew Dost join Rolling Stone’s Jenny Eliscu to grade the YouTube stars covering their band’s hit song

Fun., Fun, some nights, nate Ruess, covers

Gaelle Beri/Redferns via Getty

Nate Ruess of Fun performs on stage on Day 1 of Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park on October 4th, 2013 in Austin, Texas.

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2CARATS

YouTube Channel: 2caratsband

"When this video started, I thought, 'this has the potential to be a disaster,'" Fun. singer Nate Ruess says of the Nashville/Los Angeles country-pop duo's version of "Some Nights." (They call themselves "a modern Thelma and Louise with Sex and the City style," if you're wondering what's up with those fancy dresses they're wearing.) "It's one of the less slick-looking ones, and I've often seen that mean the performance won't be very good. But I was really, really into their vibe. It's all just fiddle, percussion and them singing. And I especially liked the way they would trade off and look at each other when the other one was singing. I never thought about that song having a country arrangement to it, but I think it's so freakin' cool and I thought they sang it really well, too."

Performance: A-

Presentation: B+

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Stop Motion Poetry

YouTube Channel: stopmotionpoetryband

"This is the performance that takes it farthest from the original," says Fun.'s Andrew Dost. "I really like that they completely changed the melody, completely changed the feel, and in a way got to the heart of the song on a different path than the one we took." Ruess calls the Modesto, Calif. indie pop band's melancholy, piano-driven take one of his favorites. "I thought this was a pretty cool, mellow version of the song. I wasn't thrilled with some of what they did with the chords, but I did like that they changed the song slightly. And I liked the way they went back to that shot of the Scrabble board with 'Fun' on it a couple times. That was a nice touch."

Performance: B+

Presentation: A

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Tyler Ward and Alex G

YouTube Channel: TylerWardMusic

Two Colorado-based singers teamed up for this "chilled out" version of "Some Nights," combining sparse instrumentation with slick production. "The vocal trading was great and made me want to watch Duets," says Dost. "My only complaint was that it was a little melodramatic. But they should take that with a grain of salt if they read this, since we tend towards melodrama, as well." Ruess seems to agree: "There's one emotional shot of [Ward] that I really, really appreciated. Because, as the lyrics guy, I feel like he connected to the song and the lyrics. But it is so freakin' slow! It was like, three minutes, and I thought, oh no, they're only gonna get to the second chorus. And they did only get to the second chorus. And then it was over. It wasn't as musical as I would have hoped, but at least they sang it well."

Performance: B+

Presentation: B+

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Hartley Road

YouTube Channel: hartleyroadmusic

"I appreciate what he did with the song," says Ruess of the Pleasant Grove singer's acoustic rendition. "It sounds kind of like a Christian praise version." But, as Ruess notes, "The color scheme with the t-shirts is a little weird. Like: red, yellow, blue and slightly darker blue. There are so many different colors besides, you know, darker blue. Maybe he could have explored that." Says Dost: "I loved this video. But my suggestion would be to go more Bon Jovi with it. I kept wanting it to open it up in a strummier way, rather than sticking fairly close to our version."

Performance: C+

Presentation: C+

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Jackson Jills

YouTube Channel: brezy112

Though the Tufts University-based a cappella group Jackson Jills has existed since 1963 and sings frequently at charity events, they still haven't mastered how to adapt their performances for YouTube. "When I saw this, I thought, 'Well thank god for Glee,'" says Ruess. "It's really given drama kids an outlet to sing with each other. In this case, though it seems like maybe the most forceful one of the group liked the song and made all the others sing it. If I was their coach, I'd tell some of the people who were taking solos to show more passion. But who knows, maybe there's a star scattered somewhere among all those black dresses." Dost, however, is a Jackson Jills fan: "They seem to be having a great time. I have a great time when we play this song and I can feel that same spirit here. My only complaint is that sometimes it sounds like a lot of racket. I want to hear a studio version!"

Performance: C+

Presentation: D

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