The cover will appear on the group’s upcoming album, All the Time, along with several other renditions of modern pop hits. For the Temptations, incorporating contemporary tracks into their classic-filled repertoire is perhaps surprising: Otis Williams, the lone surviving original member of the famed Motown ensemble, freely admits he doesn’t have much use for modern pop.
“I’m often asked, ‘Otis, what do you think about the music of today?'” Williams tells Rolling Stone. “Understand, I’m from the school of Motown, where great songs were written, produced, performed, structured daily. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but I’m really not impressed with some of the stuff I hear on the radio.”
There are a few exceptions, however, including the Weeknd’s breakout hit, which incorporates the surges and swells common in classic soul. “That’s one I love,” Williams admits. “At first when I heard it on the radio, I was like, ‘Who the hell is that?'”
The Weeknd’s version of “Earned It” contrasts the singer’s isolated, fluttery falsetto with an elegant string section. The Temptations rearrange the track, contrasting their lavish five-part vocals – complete with impressive bass singing from Willie Greene – with wailing electric guitar.
“We always want to do a song with the Temptations’ flair,” Williams says. “We let the harmonies be really pronounced. People love great harmonies – when they’re performed right.”
The Temptations’ All the Time will be released on May 4th. In addition to the Weeknd cover, and versions of recent hits including Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” and Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” the album also includes three originals.