Belfast Telegraph

It hurts to hear Leona's take on song

By Jane Graham

Bearing in mind my fear of dissolving into middle age mush, I rely on people like ex-News of the World, Paul 'privacy is for paedos' McMullan, A Question of Sport's Matt Dawson (don't ask), and Simon Cowell to keep my hatred sharp. This Christmas Cowell has served me brilliantly by getting soulless diva Leona Lewis to release a cover of Johnny Cash's version of the Trent Reznor-penned Hurt.

Cowell's pulled this kind of stunt before. He has a knack for seeking out killer songs which have thus far only reached a limited audience, partly due to the deliberately understated approach artists have taken to them.

He then gets a big voiced shrieker like Lewis or Alexandra Burke to trill over a wholly unempathetic, button-pressing production to said song. The result; actual meaning is replaced by the experience of being emotionally manipulated by a key change or a chain-yanking climax.

Millions of half-listening cultural illiterates experience a twinge and buy the record. It worked with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and with Snow Patrol's Run. And it'll probably work with Hurt.

When Cash sang this song, it sounded like he was mustering up the breath to make one last statement against the dying of the light before he turned his back in disgust.

His beloved wife June had just died, and he was ready to follow her. When Leona Lewis does it, you can actually hear the sound engineer walking into the studio waving an 'Emote Now!' flashcard.

If anything can bring out my inner Scrooge, it'll be this. Cheers Simon.

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