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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

If there is anything to rival the wonder of your favorite song, it has to be the live rendition

The cover art for Lizzy McAlpine’s 2021 live EP, When the World Stopped Moving.

One can argue that there are few experiences to match the exhilaration of a live concert. 

The shine of the lights, the thousands of fellow fans screaming among you, and the serendipity of seeing your favorite artist in the flesh all combine to make up the night of a lifetime for many. Despite the sometimes ridiculous prices for a seat, it is undeniable that some songs are frankly better up on stage in the limelight. While obtaining tickets to such events continues to become more difficult, many artists have started to release live versions of their popular songs to give everyone the same deep emotion that shines so flawlessly in renditions outside of the recording studio.

…many artists have started to release live versions of their popular songs to give everyone the same deep emotion that shines so flawlessly in renditions outside of the recording studio.


Singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams exemplifies such experience perfectly in her 2023 song, “I know it won’t work (Live),” a track remastered after the release of her debut album Good Riddance. While magnificent in any environment, the authenticity of the studio version of this specific track felt slightly restrained without Abrams’ in-person vocalist style and the instrumental conjunction to match. 

Abrams’ talent certainly gleams in this song. Her breathy yet balletic vocals accentuated in this live version provide an insightful spin on what the studio version lacks. In the chorus, Abrams painfully sings “Part of me wants to walk away ‘til you really listen / I hate to look at your face and know that we’re feeling different/ Cause part of me wants you back but / I know it won’t work like that, huh,” emphasizing her sorrow with her lyrical vulnerability and unique vocals.

The ending stretch of the song is initiated with an instrumental break, which shines a light on the seraphic harmony of Abrams’ layered vocals that are highlighted in this interlude. Abrams once again sings, “Part of me wants to walk away ‘til you really listen,’ this time in complete acapella, a much-appreciated addition to the live version.  With the re-entrance of the percussion subsequent to this, listeners can be guaranteed a couple of goosebumps here and there. The satisfying hit of serotonin following this single serene verse of acapella in the final chorus of the ballad is perfectly executed. 

Abrams is not the only artist to bring such beauty to her live performances: the legendary Taylor Swift accomplished just the same with her song “Cornelia Street (Live from Paris).” The song was originally a studio track released on Swift’s 2019 album Lover until it’s re-release as a live version in 2020. While the original studio track was not deemed a stand-out among the other seventeen tracks on the album, the release of the new version of the song eight months later certainly gave the song the recognition it rightfully deserved. Strumming her guitar, Swift sings, “And baby, I get mystified by how this city screams your name / And baby, I’m so terrified of if you ever walk away / I’d never walk Cornelia Street again.” 

Backed by the voices of tens of thousands of Swifties singing in unison, the live performance takes a different spin from the studio recording, abstaining from the original belt of the chorus and intense milieu and adopting a soft-spoken, heart-to-heart vibe. It is undeniable that this acoustic anthem is not only one of Swift’s best live performances, but one of her most sentimental songs in general.  

As the rise of live music has come to fruition, there still remains a musical masterpiece to match such artistry. For if there is anything better than a live song, it has to be a live EP, such as the work of art that Lizzy McAlpine culminated with her entirely live 8-track EP, When the World Stopped Moving. With a similar ambiance to Abrams and Swift, McAlpine’s fame in the music industry skyrocketed when her 2022 song, “ceilings,” came out. The song—which gained much notoriety on social media like TikTok—came after McAlpine’s release of her live EP. Although “ceilings” is undoubtedly a track that deserves all the celebration it has received, her introspective susceptibility in WTWSM is truly unmatched.

The tracks follow a more alternative, folk ambiance, full of mellow acoustic instrumentals and melancholic vocal techniques that become even more pensive outside of the studio. McAlpine’s graceful singing and soft tremor of her guitar immerse listeners into a state where her lyrics feel as though they are being sung only to you.

One track on this EP, “I Don’t Know You at All,” expresses a genuine emotion that can only be accomplished outside of recording studio walls. McAlpine sings, “Feels like we’ve been at war together / feels like you’ve been right here forever / but I don’t even know you at all.” Tapping into a delicate tone of voice, every note that she sings seems to elegantly glide across the instrumental in a way that makes her lyrics feel as though they are your very own. 

The sixth track, “Stupid,” captures a similar balladry with its gentle, slow-moving tempo that marinates with listeners in a way that singularly live renditions accomplish. “You know me so well / Even though we’re both different people now / It’s stupid, it’s so stupid to miss you like this,” she sings, implementing an occasional soulful ad-lib or hum that bleeds the same unfeigned feeling as the rest of the song. 

Outside the studio and free from the recording equipment, live renditions contain elements that touch hearts in a way that is unparalleled. As the popularity of such releases continues to increase, listeners no longer need to dish out a thousand dollars just to be able to live the thrill and emotion of such in-real-life experiences. 

From rap to rock and hip hop to jazz, anyone looking for a new raw emotion in their favorite song should look no further than the live version.

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About the Contributor
Kathryn Campbell
Kathryn Campbell, Staff Writer

Kathryn Campbell is a freshman entering her first year on The Central Trend. When she’s not at school, you can find her playing competitive ice hockey for Fox Motors Hockey Club. She has just completed her 6th year playing travel soccer and hopes to compete for the high school this spring. Her other hobbies include listening to music, writing, and hanging out with her friends. She is very enthusiastic about her next four years of high school and plans to make as many memories as she can. She is especially excited about all that awaits her in room 139.

Her favorite album: SOS by SZA Her lucky number: 4 Her go-to animated movie: Hercules Her favorite holiday: Christmas  

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