Who is Jonathan Young, you ask? Well, he is a musician on YouTube who is most notoriously known for making rock and metal covers of Disney songs. I discovered his channel a little while back and have been trying to soak up as much of his material as I can fit into my schedule because the guy is just that damn good. Seriously. Originally this post was going to be Top Ten Best Jonathan Young Covers but that would imply that I've gone through his entire library of material when in truth I haven't so these are my personal favorites as of this very moment. Enough lollygagging, let's get right to it!
10 - Hotline Bling (Punk Goes Pop Style ft. Travis Carte)
Given my musical tastes, it probably is no shocker when I say that I really did not care for Drake's "Hotline Bling." Even if I was still in my multi-genre days and more open minded to the hip-pop genre, I doubt I'd like it simply because I really don't like Drake's vocal style and I need my music to be energetic and containing life force, something the original severely lacks. Here, Jonathan and guest Travis Carte takes the lifeless song and turns it into a genuinely amusing song (not ironically amusing in that "funny that this song is so popular" way I see it) and music video featuring some of the funniest "white guy" dancing and Drake's lyrics being performed through Travis' roar that would make Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch proud. This one might be at the bottom of the list because topping Drake isn't a tough bar to clear for me (no offense if you're a fan, music = art = subjective) but man this one makes me feel good.
I've always been a fan of the original Kenny Loggins version of this song (it's as crunchy as he ever got), even though I've never bothered to watch the movie that made it popular start to finish (didn't hold my attention, sorry). I've always liked how the verses slowed down before kicking up again with the chorus and solo. Here, Jonathan and his roommates have added a continuous upbeat tempo to the song and it is fun in its own right. Even though I may find myself leaning more towards the original, this one is still well worth checking out.
08 - Hellfire (Symphonic Metal Cover from Disney's Hunchback Of Notre Dame)
Confession time: I've one seen Hunchback maybe thrice and that was years ago so forgive me if I have forgotten how damned dark the villain is and this song is a great reminder of that. While I do really like this version, there is something about the original that is much more damaged and unsettling with the Gothic aesthetics and those red robed fuckers towering over Judge Claude Frolo, staring down at him in judgement. Calm down, Frolo! Seriously, nobody's blaming you, this is totally normal.
07 - Poor Unfortunate Souls (Metal Cover from Disney's The Little Mermaid)
Hey, look! Another immensely unsettling Disney villain song. Given Jonathan's deep voice during the second verse, it is quite creepy here too just with more power chords and pounding drumming. This one is closer to the original than Hellfire but as much as Jonathan sells the twisted sales pitch that is this song, Ursula's tone and expressions do eek ahead in terms of disturbing.
06 - In The Dark Of The Night (Metal Cover from Anastasia)
I honestly don't remember if I've ever seen Anastasia start to finish but I heard this one on a list of villain songs and it really stood out to me (Jim Cummings singing as Christopher Lloyd will usually do that). The original does have that discomforting feeling like the previous two entries but unlike those ones, Jonathan is able to bring a similar scale of fright while turning up the crunch and in all honesty, I would consider this a tie between cover and original.
05 - Eye To Eye (Pop Punk cover from Disney's A Goofy Movie)
This one I have seen, theatrically in fact. Much like In The Dark Of The Night, this was another tie between original and cover for me. The original sounds to me like a Michael Jackson song if Sammy Hagar provided guitar work and I can honestly see either version being on the radio but I do think that Jonathan brings a certain energy to this song that the original doesn't have, especially in the chorus. Both are still damn good.
04 - Kiss The Girl (Pop Punk cover from Disney's The Little Mermaid)
I don't think I brought it up in Poor Unfortunate Souls but I think I've only seen The Little Mermaid like, once. Maybe. I know that within the context of the story, the song is playing in a slow momentum romantic moment so obviously a pop punk version would seem out of place. However, as far as Disney songs go, the original Kiss The Girl felt pretty...meh to me. Enter Jonathan Young, who adds a pulse to this song that is quite uplifting and makes me bob my head and tap my feet along every time I hear it. Literally. Also, I do like how his version acknowledges some of the flaws to The Little Mermaid and the story of the video of him and Savannah Stuckmayer reminds me of Scholar and I before we started dating so this one has sentimental value for me, despite not being attached to The Little Mermaid.
03 - Stayin' Alive (Power Metal cover of The Bee Gees ft. RichaadEB)
Okay, everyone knows the original Stayin' Alive, either in actual song form or in parody form. If you haven't, you're probably under the age of, say, 20 or you've just emerged from that rock you've been living beneath all your life. I jest, of course, but while I don't hate the original exactly, it could safely be said that I've heard it enough times to last me the rest of my life and I never thought it would as a metal song. That is until I heard this version and I was surprised at two things, like actually being able to understand the lyrics in the chorus for the first time in my life (I'm 30, for the record) the fact that I want to headbang to Stayin' Alive. Disco might be dead but this version has plenty of life left in it.
02 - Bells Of Notre Dame (Metal Cover from Disney's Hunchback Of Notre Dame ft. Caleb Hyles)
This was the song that made me subscribe to Jonathan's YouTube channel, not that I have any particular attachment to the film but just that this is a really good song in its own right, source material not withstanding. I know the original version plays at the beginning of the movie so you don't want to pummel the audience too early but for a song that tells the story of a Judge murdering a gypsy and nearly committing infanticide, its pretty...fluffy in comparison. Jonathan and guest Caleb make the listener feel like they are at the cathedral being stared at by the name dropped "Eyes Of Notre Dame" with how foreboding the tone is. And that breakdown with the Latin chants and galloping guitar? Nnnnggg, that's the good shit right there and I'm so happy to see that it has passed one million views.
01 - The Phantom Of The Opera (Metal Cover from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom Of The Opera ft. Malinda Kathleen Reese)
Allow me to put this into perspective: I know the basic story of Phantom but I haven't seen any of the movies or musicals (I'm an uncultured swine, I know). After listening to this song, they are on my "To Watch" list. In the meantime, I looked up different versions of this song, the most prominent being the 1986 Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford original (near as I can tell, please correct me if I'm mistaken), the 2004 Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler version from the Joel Schumacher film and, sadly my least favorite, the Nightwish version. I like Nightwish but Phantom is not one of their better songs. In my research for this one, I found that none, NONE, of those versions came close to the greatness of this collaboration. Malinda starts off singing softly, slowly building up to that amazing ending while Jonathan brings this wounded snarl to the Phantom that makes me believe he's truly a lonely figure living beneath the theatre falling for Christine (Malinda) and her voice. A good way to gauge if I like a song is how often I sing it to myself at work and I find myself singing this every shift. While writing the words you are reading right now, I have listened to this song eight times and it makes my hairs stand on end every time and were I to play it another eight, the same thing would happen. I didn't think it was possible to out-opera metal Nightwish but Jonathan and Malinda have not so much wiped the floor with the others, Nightwish's especially, but more sent them crashing through the floor beneath them.
Not unlike this scene.
Well, guys and gals, there's my take on my favorite material from Jonathan Young. If you want to check out more of his stuff, check out his YouTube channel. If you've liked what you've heard on this list and wish to support him, here are the links to his iTunes, Spotify, Patreon and his website. Also, while you're at it, be sure to nudge that "Follow" button here and subscribe to me on YouTube and I'll leave you with one of Jonathan's original songs, Restless Heart.