Erykah Badu Tempts Fans With A 1980s Pop Cover (Audio)

Erykah Badu is no stronger to cover songs. She and D’Angelo powerfully remade Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s “Your Precious Love” early on in both of their careers. Erykah’s 1997 Live! collection includes a harmonic rendition of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s “Stay.” More recently, the singer covered the likes of Drake, Usher, and New Edition for her late 2015 conceptual mixtape, But You Caint Use My Phone.

This year, Erykah and longtime musical partner James Poyser partnered with Yep Roc Records (Gang Of Four, Robyn Hitchcock, Billy Bragg) to release a cover of Squeeze’s “Tempted” (embedded below). The 1981 song from the British New Wave/Pop band nearly cracked the US Top 40 upon release. However, the Elvis Costello-produced track has endured through radio, a mainstream underwear ad campaign, and licensing to the Grand Theft Auto franchise, among others.

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In the 2019 rendition, which first released as part of April’s Record Store Day festivities, Badu reunites with her Soulquarians keyboardist/producer for the cover. Together, the writing team behind “On & On” and “Window Seat” bring a different energy out of the song. Badu maintains the melody but finds a new tone for the timeless lyrics about temptation, escape, and more. Poyser’s rich instrumentation behind the vocal also puts a jazzier, different spin on the original New Wave production. The artwork for the cover also pays homage to the ’80s original, reversing the type and adding some quirky cartoons.

According to Spin, Ali Jackson, Thundercat, and Derrick Hodge also play on the cover. This past weekend, James Poyser joined Questlove, Pino Palladino, and others for a Soulquarians-backed Raphael Saadiq concert during the 12th-annual Roots Picnic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For the last decade, Poyser has been a member of The Roots.

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#BonusBeat: The Squeeze’s version of “Tempted”: