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Softer And Slower Cover
aka: The Vonda Shepard Treatment
"The formula they use: they take a piano, a song you know well, slow it down, and get a woman with a lovely breathy voice to sing it."
Winifred Robinson, You and Yours, on music used for Christmas advertisements

A slower, quieter cover of a song. Musical directors can support a deeper, emotional moment in a work by using such an arrangement. It is common to take a famous song as source material. Predictably many movies play version of one of their songs during the end credits like this.

Sometimes used within a musical as a Dark Reprise of an earlier number.

A subtrope of The Cover Changes The Meaning. Compare Suspiciously Similar Song, In The Style Of, The Elevator from Ipanema and Award Bait Song.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Kyon from Haruhi Suzumiya gave the somewhat hyperkinetic end theme "Hare Hare Yukai" this treatment, making the ridiculously frantic original into something slow and melancholy. He also changed the lyrics to reflect his personality. That is to say, he complains about all the weird crap now happening. Actually, all of the last three character albums did this, but no one else sounded quite as emotionally distraught.
  • Love Hina: The Tanabata episode had the girls singing the opening theme as a ballad.
  • Shangri-La: The opening and first ending got their slow versions as insert songs.
  • Italian singer Giorgio Vanni, known for singing theme songs to animated shows (especially anime), included in his album - as well as in his concert where the cover was first heard - "Giorgio Vanni Project" this kind of cover of another song of his, "What'snote  my destiny Dragon Ball" (opening/ending song for Dragon Ball Z, as the earlier Dragon Ball anime had another theme song, still sung by him). The long time that's passed between the original, dance-y version of the song and the way more somber version of it made the cover a Tear Jerker to many fans. Yes, even among the show's intended demographic.
  • Kannagi uses a slow piano cover of the main theme for Heartwarming Moments.

    Commercials 
  • Walmart has an Easter-themed commercial that gives this treatment to (no kidding) "Peter Cottontail."
  • There's a car advert that has Twinkle Twinkle Little Star being given the treatment.
  • This ad from the Transport Accident Commission in Australia depicts relatives of actual people killed in speed-related car crashes showing photos of their loved ones. Itís set to Angie Hartís dirge-like cover of The Cureís "Pictures of You". Be warned: itís a massive Tear Jerker.
  • Walk into any department store, they often play muzak covers of this sort for famous pop songs. You might encounter a slower, softer version of Start Me Up, or Mr Mister's Broken Wings.
  • A 2010 Kingsford Charcoal commercial used Rob Crow's acoustic version of The Human League's "Fascination".
  • In addition to the original song, some Fisher Price commercials used a slow instrumental version of Katrina & The Waves' "Walking on Sunshine".
  • For a while, a whole spate of UK adverts used soft, croony covers of pop/rock songs by female vocalists. John Lewis ran two rather glurgey Christmas ads in 2011 and 2012, one using a cover of The Smiths "Please Please Please (Let Me Get What I Want)" by Slow Moving Millie and the other a cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "The Power of Love" by Gabrielle Aplin. In 2013 they ran a competition to compose the next one, which was won by a busker with a cover of Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know." For the ad itself, it was sung by Lily Allen.

    Film - Animation 
  • Frozen: May J, the singer of Let It Go's pop version in Japan, later released "Let It Go ~ありのままで~ (Heartful Version)", an R&B cover of the song.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Team America: World Police: Wonderfully parodied where the theme song (America, Fuck Yeah!) is given precisely this treatment during a big dramatic scene. It doesn't quite work, which is entirely the point.
  • High School Musical
    • Case in point, "What I've Been Looking For", as performed by the Evanses in an uptempo arrangement, and then by Troy and Gabi as a slow ballad.
    • The first film's "We're All in This Together", a cheerful "We Go Together"-esque song is replayed slowly in the third film in an attempt to make a sad, reminisent atmosphere. This version also qualifies as an Award Bait Song.
  • Donnie Darko: the final credits are accompanied by Gary Jules' version of "Mad World," originally by Tears for Fears. It helps that Mad World was a very dark song and sung in a slow, quiet manner already, so that Jules' remake is closer to "this is the acoustic version" than The Cover Changes The Meaning.
  • Across the Universe features a slowed-down version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles. The original song was a standard happy love song from a guy to a girl, while the cover was a depressing unrequited love song from a lesbian to a straight girl.
  • In Rocky Balboa, the iconic theme, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, is given this treatment throughout the movie as both leitmotif and mood music.
  • A trailer for upcoming horror movie 7500, about a supernatural attack on a plane, plays a slow cover of John Denver's Leaving On A Jet Plane. The entire time. At the beginning, the passengers are boarding with no indication that anything is wrong, but the music plays all the way through the end, while the passengers and staff are terrorized and killed.
  • Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet features an R&B gospel cover of Rozalla's 1991 dance hit "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)", sung by Quindon Tarver.
  • Inverted in Pixel Perfect. "Notice Me" was originally written as a soft guitar ballad, but winds up covered in a much more upbeat way by the Zettabytes.
  • Inverted in That Thing You Do! as the title song was written to be a ballad, but forced up tempo by the drummer the first time they played it live. It worked.

    Music 
  • Emm Gryner's album Girl Versions does this with a number of metal and alternative songs, including Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and Blur's "Song 2." Woo hoo.
  • Alanis Morissette, as an April Fools' joke, released a video of "My Humps" under this treatment.
  • Minnie Driver (of all people) gave this treatment to Bruce Springsteen's muscular, anthemic "Hungry Heart" (of all songs) on her first album (yes, she's released more than one).
    • Springsteen himself stripped down "No Surrender," originally an upbeat anthem driven by horns and keyboards, into a much slower, acoustic version.
  • The slow version of the Gershwin brothers' song "I've Got a Crush on You" became the standard one. Ira Gershwin wrote that he came to prefer this, even though he and George originally wrote it as a fast song.
  • Ben Folds does a tongue-in-cheek cover of Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit" as a melancholy piano ballad.
    • Similarly, Nina Gordon did a heartfelt cover of NWA's "Straight Out of Compton" with acoustic guitar.
    • Jenny Owen Youngs also did a fantastic acoustic cover of Nelly's "Hot in Herre".
  • Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper" tends to get this a lot, turning it from a catchy, lyrically dissonant Ear Worm to something so very depressing.
  • Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" is kinda amusing in a bathroom humor sort of way, but Jonathan Coulton upped the comedy quotient by covering it as a mellow pop song In The Style Of Michael Bolton.
  • Amanda Palmer (formerly of The Dresden Dolls) wrote a song ("Oasis") about a girl who is raped at a party and decides to get an abortion. The catch? It's an upbeat 60's-style ditty, and the girl is super excited because Oasis answered her fan letter and sent her a photograph ("It's autographed and everything!"). The networks did not like it. At all. The other catch? The song is based on her own experiences, because she considers humor a perfectly healthy way of dealing with trauma. Just as a statement, Amanda regularly plays about 30 seconds of a ridiculously moody, minor-key version of the song during concerts before switching back to the regular upbeat version.
  • Tori Amos does this with most of her covers, turning them into low-key, piano-driven ballads. Her earlier successes with this treatment include "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Losing My Religion". Her cover album Strange Little Girls had some of these (i.e. "Enjoy the Silence", "Time", "I Don't Like Mondays", "Raining Blood" & "Real Men").
    • Her cover of "Raining Blood" actually creeped out Slayer.
  • Anna Ternheim's cover of David Bowie's (and, earlier, Iggy Pop's) "China Girl" has some of these characteristics, as does her rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Little Lies."
  • She & Him takes the Motown standard "You Really Got a Hold on Me," originally recorded by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and boils it down essentially to an acoustic guitar and the voice of Zooey Deschanel.
  • Before the Scrubs episode gave it similar treatment, Obadiah Parker performed a slow, melancholy take of OutKast's "Hey Ya."
  • Calexico also has a very stripped down acoustic version of The Clash's "Guns of Brixton."
  • Another famous and awe-inspiring use of this trope was Johnny Cash's take on the Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." While the original wasn't upbeat, it was definitely much louder and more aggressive than Cash's rendition.
  • Inverted by H.I.M.'s rousing cover of the very somber "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak.
    • However, played straight by themselves, with the Baudelaire In Braille album, an album of Valo covering his own songs from Screamworks in acoustic, mellow slow versions.
  • This cover of "Tik Tok".
  • Rebecca Black's acoustic cover of Friday is effectively this. Also done (many would agree better) as a parody here.
  • Toad The Wet Sprocket did this to "Rock And Roll All Nite", of all songs, for an officially sanctioned Kiss tribute album. Kiss fans had a pretty mixed opinion on this version, but Gene Simmons himself gave the band credit for their "balls-to-the-wall bravery" in drastically reinterpreting their Signature Song.
  • Alicia Keys - "Empire State of Mind Part II: Broken Down"
  • Lou Barlow's version of Ratt's "Round And Round", which converts a Hair Metal anthem into a pensive acoustic ballad.
  • Damone does this with their version of Iron Maiden's "Wasted Years". It sort of makes sense as an arrangement because lyrically the original is a bit on the melancholy side for sort of being a Rockstar Song. Ryan Adams did much the same with his version of the song, recorded for Californication.
    • Speaking of Iron Maiden, Zwan recorded a slower and much creepier version of "The Number of the Beast".
  • Dynamite Hack's Superfast features two versions of the song "Anyway": The first is a speedy Pop Punk song. The second is a Hidden Track that combines this trope with The Cover Changes The Gender, since it's lead singer Mark Morris' sister Emily performing it as a piano ballad (while swapping all instances of "girl" in the lyrics with "boy"). Their folky version of NWA's "Boyz N' The Hood" may also fit here.
  • Many dance singles have ballad or "candlelight" remixes, such as "Cry (Unplugged)" by System F featuring Saskia Lie-Atjam, "Such is Life (Sunday afternoon rework)" by Rank 1 f/Shanokee, "Heaven (Candlelight Mix)" by DJ Sammy & Yanou f/DO, "Listen To Your Heart (Unplugged Edit)" by DHT, and "Let You Go (2005 rework)" by ATB.
    • And of course, more than a couple of those were covers; the Trope Maker in dance was probably the aforementioned Candlelight Mix of Heaven, previously by Bryan Adams. DHT's take on Listen To Your Heart actually reached the point where the stripped down version was more heavily promoted than the dance mix; either way, it was still more mellow than Roxette.
  • This is par for the course for much of Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherdsí songbook, as they cover classic punk and new wave hits in the style of Celtic folk. A prime example is their cover of "Up The Junction" by Squeeze, which turns the poppy, upbeat new wave number into a plaintive ballad — one that probably suits the lyrics better than the original arrangement. Itís also a waltz (the original is in 4/4).
  • Ayla/DJ Tandu (Ingo Kunzi) produced downtempo remakes of the classic tracks "Angelfalls" and "Velvet" for his 2011 comeback album Unreleased Secrets. Much earlier, there was "Atlantis (Atmosphere mix)" and "Angelfalls (Particular Beach mix)". Ditto for "Ayla 2010".
  • Many people don't realize that the version of "Mad World" heard in Donnie Darko (as performed by Gary Jules) and sung on American Idol is a slower and softer version of the original by Tears for Fears. In the 80's, even angst had a pop beat to it.
  • The second version of Eric Clapton's "Layla," changed from a passionate ode to his love for his best friend's wife to a somber reflection back on it.
  • While already a fairly slow song, Amorphis did a slower, mellower acoustic version of their song My Kantele
  • Gigi d'Agostino's solo ballad version of his hit "L'amour Toujours (I'll Fly with You)".
  • In 1976, Neil Sedaka released a slow ballad version of his 1962 hit "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. It reached No. 8 on the charts, making him the first artist to reach the Top 10 with two different versions of the same song.
  • Coil's version of "Tainted Love" is a slow funerary dirge, apparently from the perspective of a man dying of AIDS.
  • Slyder's Neo (RRDS Remix) is a mellow Balaeric-style trance track, in contrast with the driving epic trance style of the original, which was featured in Grand Theft Auto III on the Rise FM station.
  • The Fray did this to Kanye West's Heartless, giving it a much more depressing slant.
  • Lights' Acoustic EP includes unplugged versions of the singles "River", "February Air", and "Saviour", as well as a cover of Rancid's "Fall Back Down". The Listening also has a piano version of "Pretend", and the entirety of the Siberia album was given an acoustic rearrangement.
  • Jose Gonzalez did an acoustic cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats", which ended up outshining the original due to commercialization.
  • Xorcist's "Scorched Blood: Rising From the Ashes".
  • Copeland's rendition of The Police's "Every Breath You Take".
  • Boyce Avenue did one of "Teenage Dream" from Katy Perry. The song is made much more romantic in tone and removes the Intercourse with You aspect of it. "Lets just talk all through the night, there's no need to rush." Works well.
  • Darren Criss often performs a slowed down version of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream that he arranged himself. The arrangement was even featured on Glee
  • Moby's version of Bad Brains' "Sailin' On" turns a manic Hardcore Punk song into a contemplative ballad. It works because the original is basically in the "Over You" category of Breakup Songs
  • Pearl Jam's cover of "Last Kiss" by Wayne Cochran. The original version was upbeat, while Pearl Jam's version seems more appropriate, given the subject matter.
  • The Cruxshadows recorded an acoustic folk ballad version of "Winterborn", which is a major Tear Jerker, in contrast with the angsty but upbeat original.
  • Rage Against the Machine, of all bands, did a cover of Devo's "Beautiful World" on their album Renegades. Where the original song was ironically upbeat, the cover is antithetical to RATM's usual style, being slower and melodic, but simultaneously, angrier than the original.
  • Steve Earle's take on Townes Van Zandt's "Rake" is this.
  • Sunn O))) covered Metallica's "FWTBT" and Immortal's "Cursed Realms", and not surprisingly, both are nearly unrecognizable.
  • The Frozen Autumn covered Decoded Feedback's aggro EBM track "Bio Vital" as a softer and slower darkwave song.
  • Most covers of Yazoo's "Only You" are like this.
  • Phil Collins' cover of "A Groovy Kind of Love," from Buster. The original was an upbeat flower-child anthem from the '60s; the cover is contemplative and almost mournful in a way.
  • Cat Power first appeared on most radars with her cover of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", which didn't merely slow the song down to graveyard pace but left out the chorus and the iconic riff.
  • M. Ward's cover of David Bowie's "Let's Dance" ups the heartbreak factor.
  • Joey + Rory's cover of "Free Bird" cuts out most of the instrumental sections and puts the focus on the vocals.

    Live Action TV 
  • Ally McBeal regularly features various famous songs redone by Vonda Shephard and performed on the show. Particularly notable was Bing Crosby's Swing On A Star, slowed down and emphasizing the "Pig" part of the song.
  • John Henry and Savannah Weaver singing a bleak a capella version of "Donald Whaur's Yer Troosers" at the end of an episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which fooled a couple of fans into thinking it was a genuine archaic folk song.
  • Scrubs
  • Glee
    • Rachel and Shelby singing their beautiful and slow rendition of..."Poker Face". Nobody's sure what the meaning was changed to though and it's still considered an incredibly odd choice for a girl and her surrogate mother to sing together.
    • Finn sings a version of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (which was the original arrangement, although Cyndi Lauper's upbeat pop version is more popular).
    • Kurt sang Across the Universe's version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
    • Blaine sang a slowed down version of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" in the fourth season.
      • During the season five episode "The Quarterback," Puck's tribute is the slow, acoustic version of Springsteen's "No Surrender."
  • Happy Days: Joanie and Chachi go on a local American Bandstand-esque show, but the trend is now for folk music and J and C do classic 50s rock. What to do? Sing "Come Go With Me" v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, using just a guitar rather than the full band.
  • Doctor Who: If you listen closely, "The Doctor's Theme" from Series 1-4 is a an extremely slow version of the first several phrases of the show's Opening Theme.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise's "Faith of the Heart."
  • Jimmy Fallon and Bruce Springsteen performed a Neil Young-style cover of Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair".
  • Michelle Branch performed a softer and slower version of her song "Goodbye to You" for her guest appearance on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Tabula Rasa" - a version that actually fits the emotion of the lyrics better than the poppier radio/album version.
  • In an episode of The Odd Couple, Felix writes a bouncy, upbeat song for Jaye P. Morgan, but she performs it in a slow, dramatic style instead.
  • Kamen Rider Double including acoustic renditions of four of it's five battle themes, three of which fit this trope, but special mention goes to the acoustic version of "Cyclone Effect", as it is played over Philip's death in episode 48.

    Theatre 
  • Amaluna's soundtrack has two slow jazz renditions of "All Come Together" as hidden interludes, and in-show, "O Ma Ley" has a "falling in love" reprise when Romeo and Miranda meet, which is not included on the soundtrack album.

    Web Original 

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: The cover version of the Sacco e Vanzetti theme, "Here's To You", sung in its original movie as an ironic but genuine cheer, and screeched as a totally-unironic, tear-laden, but totally appropriate tune.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3 does it to it's own title tune - Snake Eater is a bombastic parody of James Bond themes. It's played on a piano during The Reveal. Thing is, you probably wouldn't even notice unless you listened to the song itself.
  • Used tongue-in-cheek in Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, which has a Vonda Shepard version of Sweet Georgia Brown play after the defeat of Jordan.
  • Sonic Adventure: E-102 Gamma's Leitmotif is a moderately paced, militaristic techno tune with a piano melody in it. when Gamma is killed at the end of his story the leitmotif removes all but the piano melody, slows it down, and adds horns, making it into an extremely sad song.
    • Sonic and the Black Knight has acoustic versions of "It Doesn't Matter" and "Believe in Myself" from the Adventure games. The soundtrack also contains "Seven Rings in Hand ~ Fairytales in Trance", a slower, even melancholy version of the hard-rocking Secret Rings theme, now performed by Bentley Jones. The slower speed causes the lyrics to be sung more powerfully, which means they actually kinda make sense.
  • In Drakengard 2, the sinister song Growing Wings from the first game gains a much slower version and smooth version, which plays for the first time during the scene where Caim and Angelus both die together, and in which we hear for the first time in two games the thoughts of Caim :
    Angelus: Is it over, Caim?...
    Caim: It's over. We're together now.
  • The music played over the maps depicting Worlds 1 and S from Super Mario Galaxy 2 are actually slowed-down versions of the "Good Egg Galaxy" and "Gusty Garden Galaxy" levels from the first Super Mario Galaxy game. Also, the music played over the map depicting World 6 is a slowed-down version of the music played when you fight Bowser.
  • In the SFC version of Ys IV, and the Perfect Collection soundtrack album, the music "Crimson Wings" was the standard RPG rock style, but in the PC Engine Super CD version, it was rearranged into a slow muzak-style bossa nova tune. "Sanctuary of Thunderstorms (Valley of Quicksand)" was given similar treatment. Likewise, "Subterranean Canals" from Ys II had a downtempo remix on that game's Perfect Collection album.
  • The main theme to Dungeon Siege, which is normally a fast-paced orchestra and piano piece, gets a slower, mostly piano version with soft strings accompaniment for the music that plays while inside the nearly-overrun Fort Kroth. Conversely, a higher energy version with extra brass and vocals plays during the Final Battle theme music.
  • Dance Dance Revolution Party Collection uses an unplugged version of "Remember You" for its staff roll.
  • Raiden 3's credits Award Bait Song, "Fairy", contains a softer reprise of the second half of "Lightning Strikes".
  • The Special Mode in the PSX version of Ray Crisis ends with a slow Reprise Medley of the series' highlight songs.
  • One of the many, many bonus features in Christmas NiGHTS is a cover of the main game's end theme song Dreams Dreams done by a male R&B group as an acapella.
  • Fallout: New Vegas's credits music is a softer and slower version of the Fallout 3 theme.
  • Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow has a version of the series' theme in this style.

    Western Animation 

Silent CreditsScore and Music TropesSolo Duet
Sliding Scale of Adaptation ModificationMedia Adaptation TropesSound to Screen Adaptation

alternative title(s): The Vonda Shepard Treatment
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