During this year’s Grammy awards, the In Memoriam segment was beautifully soundtracked by John Legend and British actress-singer Cynthia Erivo. The duo’s rendition of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” opened the montage before pausing while the screen displayed the great many faces which were taken from us in 2016. Legend and Erivo then closed out their poignant cover, which drew rave reviews and left listeners wanting for more. Thankfully, Legend has heard the demand and shared the studio version of their reinterpretation.
As you can hear below, Legend and Erivo’s cover of “God Only Knows” strips the masterpiece down to scattered piano keys, more restrained strings, and a warm brass section. It’s also slowed down compared to the original, and lacks the lush production which brings such joy to the Beach Boys’ classic — all qualities which made it a perfect choice to honor 2016’s losses.
The 2017 Grammys were rife with artist tributes, including Adele’s heartfelt ode to George Michael, A Tribe Called Quest’s politically charged remembrance of Phife Dawg, and Bruno Mars and Morris Day & The Time’s homage to Prince. May next year’s awards be less somber.