Eleven Productions LLC
Release Date: May 12th 2017 [Symphony] / May 24th 2017 [Stay] / May 27th 2017 [Malibu] / July 17th 2017 [Nobody’s Perfect] / July 31st 2017 [Priceless]
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Symphony (Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson Cover)
- Stay (Alessia Cara feat. Zedd Cover)
- Malibu (Miley Cyrus Cover)
- Nobody’s Perfect (Hannah Montana a.k.a. Miley Cyrus Cover)
- Priceless (for KING AND COUNTRY Cover)
If you were to pick one artist (solo or band) that has excelled a lot throughout the last few years, be it from exposure through youtube, touring, creating covers and original material that can relate to millions of listeners around the world, I’d have to say one band- Cimorelli. No, it’s not for KING AND COUNTRY, Zach Williams, Lauren Daigle, Stars Go Dim, Tauren Wells (of Royal Tailor fame), Colton Dixon, or even Jordan Feliz, Love and the Outcome or Hollyn. Cimorelli? Who’s that, you say? I must admit, prior to last year, I hadn’t heard of the band either. Yet, how times have changed, and a year can expand your musical horizon so much. Let me just be clear- officially, Cimorelli are all Christians in a band, but they are not classified as a ‘Christian band’ per se- even though most of their second full length album Alive was about their relationship with God, and themes like hope, doubt, uncertainty, body image and acceptance in the circle of friends. Mind you, Alive was a big departure for the band from their 1st full length album in 2016, Up at Night which was primarily country music (and that album and it’s musical style and themes were a departure again from their music previously that was primarily pop and radio friendly!).
Still, it’s hard to place Cimorelli into a box, literally. Musically, their styles can shift between pop, country, radio friendly and even inspirational and worshipful as their discography shows; which is why I am asserting my claim, that Cimorelli and the music that they deliver, be it covers or original material, can be some of the most unique that I’ve heard in a long time- with such great harmonies from all the 6 sisters in the band, we have been blessed to hear what I reckon is one of mainstream music’s (and Christian music as well) best kept secrets…until now, of course. The rise of these sisters with Up at Night and Alive (as well as the flurry of cover videos in between) will sure to turn the heads of people in the mainstream industry as well as those within the Christian one as well. Whether Cimorelli want to sign to another label in the future is a different story (they did split from their label- Universal Republic, after the release of their 2014 EP Renegade).
Since hearing some of their songs from Up at Night throughout 2016, I knew that the band had something unique and special, even though most, if not all their songs from their 14-track debut recording were about boys, relationships, heartbreak and hurt. Comprised of sisters Christina, Katherine, Lisa, Amy, Lauren and Dani Cimorelli (all who range between the ages of 26 – 17); the band have matured greatly since the release of their album Alive earlier this year (it released via Pledgemusic in December 2016) The sisters have always been known to have a strong faith, and while that wasn’t necessarily in the forefront on Up at Night, Alive is something different, as songs of worship, hope, loneliness, faith, comfort, confrontation and everything else in between become the central themes of this short, albeit powerful and profound album. I have reviewed the album here and interviewed band member Katherine about the album here, and upon further listening, have concluded that Alive was…and still is, one of my favourite 5 albums of 2017 thus far (it could change come December-time though!). And so following on from the success of Alive, we see these flurry of cover videos (of which they place the audio on iTunes to download a few days later), covers from artists like Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana (alter ego of Miley), Clean Bandit, there’s even a cover from the latest for KING AND COUNTRY song ‘Priceless’.
Needless to say, Cimorelli have given their all through both their original material as well as their covers and you can see the passion and heart they place in their videos when you check out their youtube page here. We as a site even did a Throwback Tuesdays post about Cimorelli and their music, and unveiled our top twenty cover/original songs from them (yet since that time, it probably could’ve changed). And so, the fact that Cimorelli have been able to bridge the gap so cleverly (maybe even more so than Switchfoot, needtobreathe, Superchick and Skillet) between mainstream and Christian music, makes me appreciate and admire these young women, all of which have a fast-growing and respectable career in front of them, be it as a band together or even, shudder to think, solo, if one person in the group decides to venture out on their own. Similarly in style within the CCM industry to that of BarlowGril, Superchick, Britt Nicole and even the newer group 1GN (and similar in the mainstream industry to artists Alessia Cara and Rachel Platten), Cimorelli’s music, especially Alive and subsequent releases afterward, is what I reckon will propel the band going forward. With a first album [Up at Night] that has placed them on the map, Alive made sure of it that Cimorelli are here to stay, for a while yet!
“Symphony”, “Priceless”, “Malibu”, “Stay” and “Nobody’s Perfect” are some of the cover songs released after Alive that have become some of the most enjoyable and emotive melodies for fans of Cimorelli and just general fans of pop music in general (myself included…even though the primary ‘genre’ of music I listen to is CCM, and most of these 5 songs aforementioned don’t fall into that category- except for “Priceless”). Still, all these songs still have emotion and poignancy attached to them, and upon hearing these songs for a good few weeks, I’ve realised that God can indeed speak through songs, regardless whether it was initially intended for CCM or otherwise. ‘Symphony’, arguably one of the most well-known songs of 2017 in the mainstream industry (alongside ‘Stay’), features the girls singing with just a piano (it shows in the video that Lisa Cimorelli plays it and the other girls are singing around her), as the song lyrics are accentuated with just the vocals and piano. Upon hearing this version, instead of the dance-club atmosphere portrayed through the original recording, I found myself listening deeper to the lyrics a little more.
While on the surface it seems like the persona is talking to their boyfriend/girlfriend/one they can’t live without; I’ve nevertheless managed to be encouraged by such a song like this as well. God Himself, the author of creation, our Father, friend and Saviour, is creating a tapestry out of each and every person, a symphony if you will. Just like how a symphony and the masterpiece of music it creates is made up of many different musicians and different moments where the conductor tells the instrumentalists to play their music at different times, so too does the Lord weave together moments of our lives together to form one big grandiose canvas where something beautiful is showcased…even if we can’t seem to see it ourselves in that moment. The lyric line of the chorus ‘…I just want to be part of your symphony…’ is a reminder and a challenge for me personally- am I going to continue to drift along through life just solely focused on my own tasks, or do I want to surrender everything, and I mean everything, to be a part of God’s ‘symphony’, even if we may not think it makes sense at this moment? We all have 2 choices- to be the leading role in the story of me, or a supporting role in the story of God…and if this song has helped me consider and re-consider such a decision, often on a daily basis, then Clean Bandit (the original artist) has done a great job with this song. Kudos to Cimorelli for such a piano prominent version where the lyrics are highlighted- in fact, dare I say that ‘Symphony’ is one of the best covers the 6 sisters have recorded for 2017 thus far?
‘Stay’, ‘Malibu’, ‘Priceless’ and ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ are the remaining 4 cover songs that the band have recorded since Alive that have stood out to me in terms of music quality and overall enthusiasm; as the sisters utilise their singing ability and how they harmonise with each other to create often versions of the song where their covers are in some aspect more engaging and powerful compared to the original recordings. Originally recorded by singer-songwriter Alessia Cara and electronic DJ Zedd; ‘Stay’ rose to popularity in the beginning of 2017, so I guess it was only a matter of time before these 6 sisters decided to create their own version of the song. Hearing the track, the song doesn’t really stray too much from the original, in fact, it never really deviates. That’s not to say that it is bad thing, in fact, most songs that are a success are ‘safe’ in that musical arrangement regard. Yet, when we compare the musical arrangement of ‘Stay’ to the other 4 covers, ‘Stay’ unfortunately isn’t as engaging or even appealing compared to the other four. Still, we get to hear all 6 sisters sing their own parts, and accompanied with the video (the video is much more ingenious and unique as opposed to just the audio of the track- where in the video, we see the 6 sisters dancing in parks and in the outdoors…with passers-by in the background as well!), ‘Stay’ is choreographically unique. The message is a sense of longing, asking a loved one to stay a little longer where they are rather than to escape and move on to whatever is drawing them to next. It is a sad song, but the Cimorelli sisters have made this sombre melody something more upbeat, fun and lively. Kudos to the band for the video choreographs as Dani, Lauren, Lisa, Christina, Katherine and Amy present one of the best choreographing covers I’ve seen out of any Cimorelli cover, ever.
I was never really much of a Miley Cyrus fan when I was younger (namely because I am a male…), so the songs ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ and ‘Malibu’ don’t really have much of an effect on me as opposed to someone who has been an avid Miley Cyrus fan their entire life. Not that I haven’t really heard any Miley songs (I do know ‘When I Look at You’, ‘The Climb’ and her chart-topping song ‘Wrecking Ball’…but apart from that, nothing else!), it’s just that me reviewing ‘Malibu’ and ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ may not necessarily give these songs justice- but here it goes. ‘Malibu’ was Miley’s comeback single, if you will. She released the song this year after a while of radio silence. The song itself is calm and peaceful, the message being a moment of thanks and gratitude, being in ‘Malibu’, a place where worries, troubles and uncertainties wash away was we bask ourselves in a place where all we’re concerned about it just the sun on our face and our feet in the sand. The place ‘Malibu’ in the song is more of a metaphor than anything else, and it is a moment of realisation for us that we need to get the place where we can be in our own ‘Malibu’s’ whatever they are- whether it be quiet time with the Lord, hanging out with friends, relaxing at home, having deep and meaningful conversations with colleagues at work, whatever it is where we can just be, and not worry or put on a façade for everyone to see through. Miley’s song is quite possibly one of her deepest she’s written ever since ‘The Climb’, and the Cimorelli sisters have done this song justice. The arrangement in peaceful and reflective, as waterfall sounds and light percussion litter the track to give an outdoor-sy feel.
‘Nobody’s Perfect’ on the other hand is much more pop-rock, and is a throwback to Miley’s ‘Hannah Montana’ days, where she starred in her own TV show, and played a character named, you guessed it, Hannah Montana. In it, she sings a variety of songs, inclusive of ‘Nobody’s Perfect’. The song itself is about accepting that we are in fact not perfect… and that’s ok. So much of today’s society is driven by performance and acceptance through performance that at times the concept of perfection is what we are striving towards, and failing at it very well. The song allows us to reflect on whether we are at peace at living in the tension of not being perfect and wanting to be (because we are indeed made in the image of God, who is in fact perfect in every way). Cimorelli’s interpretation is spot on- creating a rock anthem where the youngest Dani Cimorelli takes over as the lead on the song. It can be seen through the video itself that the sisters are having a lot of fun- even placing on a wig (all 6 of them) half-way through the video to look like Miley (or Hannah Montana in this case!).
I was pleasantly surprised to see Cimorelli cover for KING AND COUNTRY. Not only are both these bands impactful currently in the music realm and outside of it, never did I think that Cimorelli would cover a Christian song…until now. I knew all the members of the band were Christians, but I guess I figured that they were in the mainstream for a reason. This all changed when Alive was released, the album where the sisters expressed their faith on their sleeve. Even then, with songs like ‘Your Name is Forever’, ‘My God is Here’, ‘Hope For It’, and ‘Never Let Me Fall’, I still thought that covering a Christian song, let alone a popular song in the CCM industry, was a long shot. That was the case, up until the release of ‘Priceless’ at the end of last month. Boy was I impressed with Cimorelli and the arrangement. With just the piano and their vocals, Amy, Christina, Lauren, Lisa, Katherine and Dani delivered by far one of their most emotive and encouraging cover songs to date. The song itself is impactful and insightful, as for KING AND COUNTRY have used this song of late to champion the worth and respect of women around the world.
The song as even the theme song in Priceless, a movie that released in 2016 and that showed us what it would be like to witness a human sex trafficking ring and be one of the only ones to stand up with the conviction to try and stop such an act of cowardice and violence. ‘Priceless’ is an anthem of self-worth and motivation, and with Cimorelli covering it, maybe, just maybe, it will allow more listeners of Christian music to check out Cimorelli’s music, and vice versa. A song that reminds us that every person is priceless in the sight of the Lord, we see the sisters sing from God’s point of view (or it can be viewed as a man singing to a women) as we know what the Lord sings over us, that ‘…I see you dressed in white, every wrong made right, I see a rose in bloom at the sight of you, oh so priceless, irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable, darling, it’s beautiful, I see it all in you…’
What can I say about Cimorelli and these covers that I haven’t already? That the band as of this moment is by far one of the most influential in either the mainstream or Christian music industry? Because they are… their album Alive is what will make the band propel to new heights. Released officially in May 2017, Alive is certainly going to be within my top 10 albums for sure. Cimorelli are indeed an ‘overnight’ success, a band that has come out of nowhere and are taking social media by storm. Reminding me similar of bands like BarlowGirl, 1GN, LoveCollide and Superchick, Cimorelli are a group that’s certain to have a very bright future ahead of them. These five covers are unique and powerful, heartfelt and emotional, at times nostalgic and encouraging. Cimorelli are certain to have a bigger and better 2017, and Alive is certainly a factor in that. Well done girls for creating these 5 covers, as well as the success of Alive, can’t wait to see what God wants to do through you as a band in the upcoming year ahead!
3 songs to listen to: Symphony, Priceless, Nobody’s Perfect
RIYL: 1GN, BarlowGirl, Rachel Platten, Alessia Cara, Love & The Outcome, Britt Nicole