Kanye West’s single “Only One” is arguably one of his most personal yet, involving his feelings for his daughter, North (“Nori”), and his mother who never had the chance to meet her. Even people who don’t enjoy Kanye’s music can appreciate the sentiment and respect the concept of the song. Included in the many personal and introspective themes of the song is Kanye’s mother referring to him as “Mari” (short for his middle name, Omari) as well as her calling her son and unfortunately never introduced granddaughter, angels. The oration of Donda West through Kanye to his daughter is almost impossible to replicate the emotion of.
That opinion is obviously not universal as seen by plenty of teenage YouTube videos covering the song. All of these attempts are forgiven because, well, it’s YouTube, however this cover by Nick Jonas deserves a special spotlight. The raspy, angsty voice of Nick must have had no idea what Kanye was talking about, one can hope, at least. It is pretty hard to imagine Donda West speaking through Nick Jonas to Nori West, but apparently Nick didn’t feel this way.
Kanye’s career has become progressively more artistically driven, but has maintained the emotion he put into songs like “Family Business” from The College Dropout and “Hey Mama” from Late Registration. This song isn’t a non-specific, generic love song that could be about any girl which Nick Jonas is admittedly pretty good at. It is possible Nick Jonas was attempting to pull some level 3 artistic expression by blatantly not presenting the song in the right light, which could in turn inspire people to think even deeper about the true meaning. But probably not. This song sits in the select company of songs that cannot be covered to the full potential of the original version.
Coming next: Kendrick Lamar’s “The Blacker the Berry” covered by Nick Jonas.
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