The sentiment behind most cover songs is “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” But the secret to a truly outstanding cover is to not only imitate it, but to elevate it — usually by putting a distinctly fresh spin on the music.
The ambitious 23-year-old performed his countrified rendition at Nashville’s famed Blackbird studio for YouTube channel CountryNow. With a guitar-heavy backing band behind him, Hunter gave what he called “a very acoustic version of a not-so-acoustic song,” focusing less on JT’s Timbaland-produced R&B beat, and opting instead to let his passionate vocals shine.
Hunter’s rendition got the ultimate seal of approval from Justin himself, who tweeted his praise for the young star’s “GOOD” sound (that’s in all caps, so you know it’s sincere). And Hunter appropriately freaked out.
In an interview with Rolling Stone Country, Hunter explained why he chose to put his own spin on “Mirrors,” saying, “This song stood so strongly as a lyric and melody that it could be re-arranged any way possible and still be so strong as a message.
“I thought it would be cool to transform it into a bluegrass record… of sorts,” the “21” singer continued. “I love rearranging things into acoustic songs. I've spoken a million times on my obsession with bluegrass instrumentation and my dream to explore what we can do with these sounds in a modern soundscape. I love dreaming about what you can do with that beautiful, familiar sound to create something new and radical that still feels like home.”
Asked which of his own songs he thinks Justin should tackle, Hunter answered with his 2014 ballad “Still Fallin’” — “His voice on that song would be so incredible,” he said.
Challenge accepted, JT? You’re on the clock!