Making a cover song, be it any genre, will always require some sort of blessing from the artist that originally made it. The world of rhythm and blues of course has its own royal rules.
When late R&B princess Aaliyah was first getting started back in 1994, she covered the original version of The Isley Brother’s classic deep cut, “At Your Best (You Are Love),” off their 1976 album, Harvest for the World. Not only did her version fair better on the Billboard charts by a long shot, even nabbing a top 10 spot on the Hot 100, Ron Isley himself referred to it as “a favorite” while performing “At Your Best” in her memory shortly after Aaliyah’s untimely death in 2001.
That’s the kind of respect you’d expect to see from one artist to another when it comes to covering music. What occurred recently when it came to Chaka Khan’s love ballad “Sweet Thing,” another soul classic from 1976, and the 1992 cover version by still-reigning R&B queen Mary J. Blige, well, there’s simply no comparison.
Listen to a clip from her now-infamous interview on The Originals podcast with Andrew Goldman below to see what we mean, where she recalls a harsh vocal lesson once had with MJB da MVP:
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While Mrs. Khan, a queen very well in her own right when it comes to R&B music, is always entitled to her opinion, the harshness in her delivery makes it hard for us to see the “it’s all love” trope — not to play big bad media! Even if it wasn’t told to millions of people at a concert as it was once-rumored, debunking the myth by rehashing the real-life moment on LA Magazine‘s premiere podcast might’ve not been the best approach either.
Of course, many across the Internet had their own opinions on if Mary J. Blige did, in fact, ‘f-— up’ the Rufus soul classic “Sweet Thing.” We actually thought it was one of the most unforgettable R&B cover songs by a Black singer, but see what others had to say below:
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1. I love Chaka Khan. I do. But she’s just mad Mary J. Blige’s cover of “Sweet Thing” is better than her original. And before you get mad too, understand I said what I said.
2. I don’t know what Chaka on but I prefer Mary J Blige version of Sweet Thing over hers
3. I will say I agree with Chaka Khan’s comment about Mary J. Blige sounding flat on the cover of her song “Sweet Thing,” but her Mariah Carey comment was disrespectful though.
4. I actually had to go back and listen to Mary J. Blige’s version of ” Sweet Thing “. It sounds good to me. Hmm, must be my novice ear. #OHWELL
5. Somebody just lied & said Mary J Blige’s version of Sweet Thing is better than the original…
6. Mary J. Blige Is a top 5 favorite singer for me, but Chaka is right. She did “f#%! up” “Sweet Thing.” All voice and a hairline flight from first note to last. Remarkable accomplishment.
7. Dearest Chaka Khan, If you believe Mary J. Blige sang “Sweet Thing” at 8am flat then what key and voice were you singing during Verzuz at 8pm? Clearly your voice was well rested ma’am. Was it crack?!
8. i prefer mary j blige version of “sweet thing” soooo that’s that 🤷🏿♂️🤷🏿♂️🤷🏿♂️ flat where?
9. 😮 I grew up listening to old school music but Mary J Blige version of Sweet Thing was one of the first songs I heard and loved. I didn’t hear Chaka Khan’s version until a radio personality played both to compare.
10. Why Chaka Khan tell Mary J. Blige that her vocals were flat on her Sweet Thing remake and that she fucked up her song?! Friends or not, don’t tell the public this! The legends in the game just don’t give a fuck😂😂😂😂