When the sun shines we’ll shine together
Rihanna’s 2007 pop gorgeousness took the world by storm and proved out to be a gigantic surprise hit, even amongst the “serious music lovers” crowd who normally tends to sneer at chart fluff. Therefore, it soon became the du jour cover material of the year – countless cover versions appeared all around the net and live concerts by artists ranging from India Arie to My Chemical Romance, from faithful covers to postmodern acoustic covers that are so popular these days. By the time Manics announced they were going to join the crowd in early 2008 by recording a version of it for the NME Awards 2008 compilation album, covering the song had already become passé and an overdone gimmick and thus there was a lot of unhappy murmuring about the band trying to belatedly join the hip crowd and so forth.
Like so many times before, the band greeted their critics with a slap in the face and their version is the only one that actually somewhat rivals the original. The song’s still recognisably the same but turned into more of a rock format with the introduction of James’ guitar and band instruments in general, but keeps the ultra-hip scifistic sheen of the original with Tolerate-esque swooshes, slick production and the keyboard work. The band does what they do best and turn the song into a Big Sodding Anthem, with a chorus even more gigantic than in the original. And naturally, James roars through it with sheer force and relentless power. Hell, the bridge is far superior to the Rihanna original solely because of James’ vocals.
It’s rather fun how the song changes its mood by cranking up the rock anthem switch. While it’s always been a very uplifting song about vows to struggle through hardships and offering someone your sanctuary and protection in time of need, Rihanna’s relatively weak voice and therefore much more restrained singing style gives the song a colder, cooler atmosphere that’s very much enhanced by the ultra-slick synth work. The Manics version on the other hand becomes a gigantic stadium anthem that sings the song’s theme with pride and jubilance.
One of their best covers.