What does it mean when an acclaimed alternative musician covers a hyper mainstream pop star? It’s both respectful homage to the person’s talent but also an “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” moment. This is the case with local Zola Jesus‘ cover of Rihanna’s song “Diamonds.” While a few months old, we stumbled upon it while trolling Soundcloud and wanted to bring it to everyone’s attention because, not only is it a great production, but it is a surprising jab from Zola to RiRi that she could take her any day of the week.
Zola tackles “Diamonds” as a very straightforward cover: she doesn’t attempt to put too much of a spin on it or attempt to deconstruct it to a point where you cannot see the relationship between the two songs. It’s very clear that she wants you to see the similarities because, funny enough, Zola’s voice is just as strong as Rihanna’s. This is likely something you have never thought about but, seriously, from the first few lines of the song through the end she gives you a “Don’t play: this is RiRi’s cousin, right?” feeling. It’s an absolutely remarkable effect: Zola could truly take Ri any day of the week.
The production is obviously dark and goth-synthy as we’ve all come to love from her. It’s a little rough as this song was not made to be anything else but a cover. You’ll find lots of the comments are less than kind, criticizing Zola for “stopping this low.” We say quite the contrary: we need alt stars like Zola showing lamestreamers how it’s done. She pulls off the RiRi diva act with the panache and grace only a goth queen has. She takes the song to a new, haunting point that can and should scare the piss out of Ri. Catch it below and be on the look out for Zola: she has a show at Hollywood Forever on September 27.