With its combination of acoustic originals and intriguing cover versions, the Radio 1 Live Lounge
albums have cleverly filled a gap in the market to become one of the most successful compilation series in recent years. Volume Four, which as always, consists of tracks recorded live for Jo Whiley's mid-morning show, is as eclectic as its predecessors, with acts as diverse as Lily Allen
, Fleet Foxes
, and Kelly Clarkson
all stepping into the now-famous studio. Without the comfort of multiple takes and glossy production, the Live Lounge
can expose artists in a way no other compilation does, and where some can surprisingly thrive, others even more surprisingly falter. Florence and the Machine
, one of the most critically acclaimed artists of 2009, caterwauls through a quite painful rendition of Beyoncé's "Halo," Lady Gaga
unnecessarily turns her electro-pop juggernaut "Poker Face" into a rather ropey and overblown vaudeville-style number, while Black Eyed Peas
don't seem to have entirely grasped the concept, using a pre-recorded backing track on their number one "Boom Boom Pow." However, the likes of the Saturdays
, often derided for miming, sound near-perfect on entertaining renditions of MadCon'
s "Beggin," and Keane'
s "Spiralling." While Katy Perry
s "Electric Feel"), Kasabian
s "The Sweet Escape"), and Newton Faulkner
"Mama Do") tackle songs completely outside their comfort zone without disgracing themselves too badly at all. The album doesn't quite deliver a Leona Lewis
moment (her number one cover of Snow Patrol'
s "Run" was specifically recorded for the Live Lounge
, although has strangely never appeared on its albums) but there are several impressive moments. Hot Chip'
s intelligent electronica transfers surprisingly well to a cover of Wiley'
s thumping grime hit "Wearing My Rolex," Little Boots
' "Beat Again" into a synth-heavy early-'80s pastiche, while Marmaduke Duke
and Biffy Clyro
, both of whom feature vocalist Simon Neil
, pull off charming versions of hits by Ciara
and Beyoncé, respectively. With its impressive caliber of artists and its entertaining track list, Volume Four is a consistently curious listen and is undoubtedly a welcome addition to the increasingly popular Live Lounge