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no diggity acoustic version

A message to lads with guitars: please stop with your dull covers of rap and R&B songs

We don’t need to hear what No Diggity would sound like on the guitar.

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LAST NIGHT, HARRY Styles played his solo debut gig in London.

During the concert, Harry Styles decided to perform a cover of Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam. Not just any cover, though. A dreary rock cover.

Watch it for yourself below.

If you can’t see the video, please click here

In its original incarnation, Ultralight Beam is a transcendent gospel number. Listening to it is practically akin to having a religious experience and it surely ranks among the best songs of the last decade. (In fact, it was named by Pitchfork as the best song of 2016.)


By comparison, Harry Styles’s cover version is turgid and monotonous, a classic of a genre I like to call “No Diggity (Acoustic Version)”.

What is No Diggity (Acoustic Version), you ask?

No Diggity (Acoustic Version) is when an artist from outside rap, hip-hop or R&B decides to perform a dull, tedious cover version of a popular song from those genres.

It’s unoriginal, it rarely works and it can often come across as an attempt to make songs by black palatable for white audiences.

bes amy amy

Take, for instance, this video of Kasabian covering Insane in the Brain by Cypress Hill.

Who among us has ever listened to Insane in the Brain and thought, “You know what this song is missing? Acoustic guitars and a nasally Leicester accent.”

triple j / YouTube

How about this video of Ed Sheeran covering Trap Queen by Fetty Wap?

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Unsurprisingly, Ed Sheeran is a serial offender when it comes to putting his own twist on R&B and hip hop songs. In the past, he has covered Ginuwine’s Pony, Beyoncé’s Drunk in LoveThe Fresh Prince of Bel Air and 50 Cent’s In Da Club.

He also did an ill-advised cover of YG’s My N***a and called it My Gingers. I strongly urge you to not listen to it.

Each of these interpretations involve Ed singing softly and strumming on a guitar.

It’s just more authentic that way, innit? Because music isn’t “real” unless there’s a guitar involved, you see. As Jeremy D. Larson wrote for in 2015:

Some of the covers are not bad, but most covers approach a rap song with the same sneering and condescending conceit: “Hey, this rap song actually has some meaning to it if you take out the rapping parts.”

At best, these covers are musically unambitious and lame. At worst, they’re offensive and patronising. “Thanks for that fun rap song I like to dance to. Now let me, a white man with a guitar, reveal its true meaning and emotion.”

Ed Sheeran might be the worst offender, but he is certainly not alone. Here’s Shawn Mendes performing a forgettable cover of Drake’s Fake Love on, you guessed it, a guitar.

BBCRadio1VEVO / YouTube

Here’s The Script performing Lose Yourself.

Admittedly not as embarrassing as the others, but still not great.

liveloungethealbum / YouTube

Here’s Bear’s Den performing a thoroughly earnest cover of Drake’s One Dance

There’s at least more imagination here, but how can you make One Dance seem so… serious?

BBCRadio1VEVO / YouTube

In conclusion? Please let the No Diggity (Acoustic Cover) genre die.

If you’re a lad with a guitar, please take a step back and think twice before recording that mournful cover of, like, Kendrick Lamar’s Humble. I promise you we don’t need it.

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