Something truly amazing happened in London on May 13. As MTV reported, Harry Styles covered Kanye West's "Ultralight Beam," and his twist on West's stunning song is not only unexpected, but gorgeous. Styles played the song during a small concert held in celebration of the release of his first solo album, titled simply Harry Styles. The former One Direction singer has proven himself to be full of surprises, but reinterpreting West's gospel rap into a rock anthem may be his most daring move yet.
Anyone who covers a song by West has to have some serious guts. As an artist, the rapper is unparalleled in his creativity, and "Ultralight Beam" is one of absolute best creations. He collaborated with Chance the Rapper, The-Dream, and more to give the track its emotional weight. It's a powerful song, and one that is uniquely West.
But Styles found a way to give "Ultralight Beam" an entirely different sound. You would be forgiven if you didn't immediately recognize the track as West's. That's how different the two versions of the song are. Where West leaned into the epic, gospel refrains to give the listeners the sensation they were listening to something holy, Styles strips "Ultralight Beam" down to its rawest form. He's accompanied by little more than his guitar and the crashing of cymbals, and the result is a version of the song that feels like it could have been written in the '70s by a rock-n-roll band.
Harry Styles covering KANYE WEST at his first ever solo show! Ultralight Beam 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/rFvquupm85— Howell Davies (@HOWELLDAVIES) May 13, 2017
If you had any lingering doubts that Styles is a serious talent, then this cover should dispel them. No one can match the power of West's original version of "Ultralight Beam" because he poured so much of himself into the music, but Styles did an impressive job of covering, rather than imitating, the rapper's song. One Direction fans have always known Styles was a musical force, but moments like this go a long way of showing the rest of the world just how much the singer has to offer.
Listen to the cover and the original side by side to see just how inventive both versions of the track are. If hearing them back-to-back doesn't make you want to hear these two collaborate in the future, then I will be shocked. They may hail from completely different genres, but both West and Styles are constantly defying expectations with their musical talents.