Versions: XO

In this week’s version of Who Sang It Better?, we pit Beyonce against John Mayer for their rendition of the ballad XO.

What do the charts and critics say?

Chart-wise, Beyonce and her management probably envisioned XO to be the album’s Halo. Surprisingly, it didn’t do significant chart damage. Instead, it was her departure from mainstream sound Drunk in Love and Flawless that paid off.

Given the little time difference between her version and John Mayer’s release, not much was expected from the latter.

Both were welcomed by critics. Beyonce’s version was deemed a pop masterpiece and served well as a stark contrast to the heavily hip-hop influenced album Beyonce. John Mayer’s stripped down, simple version opened the song up to new audiences and infused harmonica perfectly with an acoustic guitar.

What do we say?

Taking the production a notch down works perfectly when the original is heavy on instrumentation and sound-altering technology. Imagine David Cook’s take on Always Be My Baby or any EDM cover made acoustic.

However, Beyonce’s version was already subdued and mellow, broken down mostly, allowing her vulnerabilities to shine through. John Mayer managed to expand the reach but not do much to improve on an already perfect mix.

Verdict

By a close call, Beyonce won this battle!

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