Melanie Amaro has redone Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” for The X Factor winner’s Pepsi commercial, premiering during today’s Super Bowl broadcast. (Read more about the big-budget spot, which co-stars Elton John, over at Entertainment Weekly.)
Amaro’s first single since being crowned champion of the inaugural U.S. edition of Simon Cowell’s singing competition recasts the Queen Of Soul’s 1967 classic as dance-pop. I very much like the start of the track, which sounds very “Show Me Love,” but when the production goes full crank in the final third, it ventures into nearly unlistenable Black Eyed Peas territory. Thankfully, that trip is brief.
Now I’m not a purist when it comes to “Respect” (or any other song, for that matter). After all, Aretha herself covered Otis Redding’s original in the first place, though hers was no copycat version. Adding the “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” bit and other touches, she brought a strong female perspective to the proceedings. Since Amaro’s version jumps off from there, one can’t help but judge it against Aretha’s iconic take.
My quibble isn’t that “Respect” is untouchable, it’s that Amaro’s version is basically all chorus, save one verse. Losing some of the lyrics takes away much of the power and pull — and historical perspective — of “Respect,” which even the hardest beat can’t replace. But taken simply as Amaro’s introduction to a global audience (that Pepsi spot), her cover of “Respect” is a decent coming-out party for her diva-like chops. Now here’s hoping she teams with writers and producers who’ll deliver the respect such talent deserves.
If you want to see Amaro’s Pepsi commercial prior to its big game broadcast, head over to YouTube.