Comparing & Evaluating Multiple Recordings of One Song

Comparing & Evaluating Multiple Recordings of One Song

By Josh Yong


Name of Song : Untouchable (Cover)

Writer(s): Cary Barlowe, Nathan Barlowe, Tommy Lee James, (Taylor Swift)

Performer(s): Luna Halo





It is really hard to pick just one song considering the plethora of worthy and beautiful songs out there, but one of my all-time favorites is “Untouchable.”

I first heard it through Taylor Swift’s Fearless platinum edition album and instantly fell in love with the song as a whole. The lyrics stood out as particularly relatable to me, and I am sure almost everyone out there. It is about wanting and dreaming someone so much to the point we lose our self-control and composure, but yet we can’t have them.

So, I dug a little further into the history of this song only to find out that Taylor did not actually write this song but did a cover from this emo-rock band called Luna Halo. I was a little surprised as Taylor usually writes her own songs and this particular cover was crafted so well with lots of individual touches to the original song.


 Historical context of the song’s composition


This composition was originally written for a rock band, Luna Halo by Cary Barlowe, Nathan Barlowe and Tommy Lee James.

The song was released under Luna Halo’s self-titled album Luna Halo in 2007; it gathered steam in 2009 when Taylor Swift covered ‘Untouchable’ in her re-released studio album titled ‘Fearless Platinum Edition’, the only cover song in this studio album. Taylor’s massive fan base and commercial success helped propelled and massively increased the exposure to the band Luna Halo and their song ‘Untouchable’. Subsequently, Luna Halo even did a cover of Taylor’s version of ‘Untouchable’.



Comparison of the three recordings


Taylor Swift completely rearranged the original song and gave lots of personal touch to it, which is very endearing and can be felt when listening to the song. The melody of the original song is somewhat reconstructed to make the entire song more soothing and calm. Taylor’s version of this song is very ‘dreamy’, installed with beautiful catchy melodies and is filled with heartfelt emotions. The sweeter and more soothing tune compared to the original song is definitely more acceptable to the wider range of audience and certainly fits the content of the lyrics.


Now this version where Luna Halo covered Taylor’s version of their song ‘Untouchable’ stands somewhere in between both extremes of both recordings described above (the original, and Taylor’s version).


Due to the vast difference in the vibe that each  version of the song gives out, it definitely allows listeners to listen to this composition depending on the mood they are in. This is definitely a unique experience, and reaffirms the sheer power that a song can make us feel.



Rank the 3 recordings, with reasons for ranking


In terms of artistic success, I would say that Taylor’s version is the most successful when taken into account of the exquisite production and mixing quality of her recording, coupled with the gripping performance and meticulously arranged instrumentation to fit the sweet vocals.


This is followed by the original version of the song by Luna Halo, the way the arrangement (vocal, melody and harmony) worked so well together and soars at the chorus is just incredible, definitely accentuates the message in the chorus. The syncopated rhythm and guitar solo really makes the recording as a whole interesting. Production and mixing quality wise is decent enough to not land itself the last place.


I would say that Luna Halo’s cover of Taylor’s version of their song as the least successful as the recording has zero production, studio engineering, and mixing gone into it. Musically, many touches need to be done to this recording such as panning, balancing to exhibit this recording’s full potential and to ensure the cohesiveness in this recording. There are obvious differences in the volume of this recording that can be heard, it would have been a waste of resources if it were to be released commercially without finishing touches to the recording given the discerning taste of music listeners these days.



What about the song that shines through regardless of the setting?


The emotions this song disperses is prominent regardless of the genre and music style, which is definitely crucial as the artist/performer needs to be able to effectively connect with their listeners. Moreover, the catchy melody of the song regardless of the setting, especially when combine with the catchy phrases in the lyrics makes the song especially memorable. Besides that, the lyrical content, the meaning behind the entire song is also prominent in different versions of the song; in a way that the same message is sent to the listeners, although it may be in different ways or expressions.


Explain how each recording affected your initial feelings about the song


When I first heard Taylor’s cover of the original song, I instantly connected with the song and was so excited to have this song on my iPod just so I could play it everywhere I go! I thought the arrangement was very unique and captivating. Definitely relevant to mass audience, as it is has the ‘pop’ elements.


When I first heard the original recording, I thought to myself ‘Hey!’ this recording sounded very different, which prompted me to look at my playlist just to make sure I was actually playing ‘Untouchable’. Despite the major difference in the arrangement from what I’m used to, I was still able to connect with the original version of this song. This recording still expressed my inner world, the emotion that I was not able to put to word; definitely a resolution of tension as I listen to a somewhat different melody from what I’m used to listen.


I stumbled across this song when I was looking for a cover for ‘Untouchable.’ I was curious as to how the acoustic and softer version of Luna Halo’s interpretation of ‘Untouchable’ would sound like. I was definitely amazed by how a song can be interpreted in so many ways yet still sound so good and refreshing. I feel that this version of the song can potentially be catered to more people, if it was produced and mixed properly.

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