American Teen singer Khalid covered Tracy Chapman’s revolutionary hit “Fast Car” on BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge earlier today, capping the single’s 30-year anniversary with a genuine nod to the original.
Part of what made “Fast Car” so revolutionary was the introduction of a black and feminist voice into the generally white folk-rock audience. Over the years, as the song became saturated with covers, “Fast Car” lost some of its radical ambience. In 2016 alone both Sam Smith and Justin Bieber covered the song on Live Lounge. Most prominent, however, is Jonas Blue’s 2015 dance remix, a version with four times as many plays on Spotify than the original. In the remix Chapman’s lyrics, pasted over heavy bass and deep house synth, lose their original intensity and cultural context and instead turn the song’s heavy-hearted narrative about escaping the cycle of poverty into a summertime road trip jam.
Khalid reinstates Chapman’s original sound with a simple, straightforward arrangement, infusing his own R&B touch along the way. His delivery emulates Chapman's brutal honesty and recaptures some of the magic that made the song a tried and true folk-rock anthem.
Watch the performance below: