The year’s best cover-song performance

On paper, the group Young@Heart seems like a dubious proposition. Excuse our cynicism, but a senior-citizen choral group in Northampton, Massachusetts, that covers songs by the Clash, Radiohead, Talking Heads, and Coldplay? Um, sure. Sounds cute. And vaguely insufferable.

Then we saw this three-and-a-half minute excerpt from a documentary, also called Young@Heart, that recently aired on British television. In it, a fat, frail old man named Fred takes to the stage, his oxygen tank in tow, to sing (beautifully) “Fix You,” a Coldplay song we’ve heard a million times but have never really listened to.

It’s a simple, subdued, dignified performance, but somehow it gets to the heart of the song and outpaces the original. (Even die-hard Coldplay fans have been saying as much in their online forums.) Particularly when the chorus gets to the line “Tears stream down your face,” and Fred answers with “When you lose something you cannot replace.”

The performance was originally meant to be a duet — but Fred’s singing partner, Joe, had died of cancer two days earlier.

VIEW Young@Heart sings “Fix You”

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here. The year’s best cover-song performance