Watch James Blake Cover Radiohead's 'No Surprises' Via Livestream - Rolling Stone
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Watch James Blake Cover Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’ Via Livestream

Songwriter also tackled Billie Eilish, Frank Ocean, Joni Mitchell, Feist during Instagram set

James BlakeAustin City Limits Music Festival, Weekend 2, Day 1, Texas, USA - 11 Oct 2019

James Blake covered Radiohead's "No Surprises" during a livestreamed Instagram performance.

Suzanne Cordeiro/Shutterstock

James Blake played a solo rendition of Radiohead’s “No Surprises” on Monday, tackling the OK Computer anthem during a livestreamed Instagram performance.

The singer-songwriter — a noted Radiohead fan who previously covered In Rainbows‘ “Videotape” onstage — magnified the song’s melancholy core with his stripped-down take. Over rich piano chords, the singer-songwriter ascended to a fluttering falsetto as he sang about “a heart that’s full up like a landfill, a job that slowly kills you.” 

Fans were clearly onboard with his version, replying on Instagram with a flurry of crying face and heart emojis. But Blake followed his performance by laughing and playfully apologizing to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke: “That I’ve never done before,” he said. “I tried it last night, and I just thought, ‘I’m gonna do it…in front of, now, 26,000 people. Sorry, Thom.”

Blake’s livestream also included some original tracks, along with covers of Billie Eilish’s “when the party’s over,” Frank Ocean’s “Godspeed,” Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” Feist’s “The Limit to Your Love,” Bill Withers’ “Hope She’ll Be Happier,” Don McLean’s “Vincent” and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.” Before the set, he teased the post by noting, “Ok looks like we’re in this for the long haul so I’m jumping in…gotta play for you guys somehow.”

As COVID-19 confines people around the world to their homes, numerous artists are utilizing the livestream format to maintain a direct connection with fans. Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard has been playing daily sets, and he even debuted a new folk song, “Life in Quarantine,” inspired by the pandemic.

In This Article: James Blake, Radiohead

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