- 01 Dec 20
'In The Bleak Midwinter' was first set to music in 1906 by Gustav Holst and popularised by Harold Darke in 1911.
Featured on Apple Music's 'Carols Covered' series, James Blake has put his own unique spin on the English Christmas carol 'In the Bleak Midwinter' - originally written as a poem by Christina Rossetti.
Blake overlaps his vocals to give the trademark choir effect the original version possesses, but he also adds a smooth synth line beneath it all.
As the song continues, the electronic backbone grows increasingly more prominent, emanating a powerful church organ performing a hymn.
Interviewed by Zane Lowe, Blake weighed up the pros and cons of covering a classic pop Christmas track for Apple Music before deciding on the English Christmas carol.
"We need a Christmas pop tune. This isn’t that. Is it an English poet who wrote the original version of 'In The Bleak Midwinter'? Whether it is or not, it reminds me a lot of England," the artist says, noting his own awareness of choral music.
“I have a huge fondness for Anglican church spiritual vibes, even though I’m not particularly religious. There’s something very appealing to me about the feeling I get from classical choral music. And I loved it when Jeff Buckley did that cover ‘Corpus Christi.’ In the back of my mind, there’s always been a thing where I’ve got to tackle something like that.”
"Look man, all the pop Christmas songs have been covered a million times. I’m not going to out-sing Mariah."
Blake recently announced a Covers EP is on the way, featuring his impressive takes on Frank Ocean’s 'Godspeed' as well as Roberta Flack’s 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'. With his surprise Before EP and brand new Christmas carol, the artist is clearly in the generous mood this December following the success of his critically-acclaimed album, Assume Form.
Check out his rendition of 'In The Bleak Midwinter' below: