Yungblud (Dominic “Dom” Harrison) is a London-based singer-songwriter who burst onto the music scene with a highly political version of modern pop-punk. His knack for combining different styles of music and clothing have made him one of the loudest and brightest acts of the last few years. At the end of September 2020, Yungblud took to the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge to perform a live cover of his hit “Strawberry Lipstick.” He also introduced a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Cardigan” with a twist. This is similar to his repertoire of unique covers, including during his last visit to the Live Lounge.
The “Cardigan” cover video opens with bright beams of white soft light as Yungblud sits on a stool, surrounded by musicians. He holds an acoustic guitar and sings softly, “Vintage tee, brand new phone/High heels on cobblestones/When you are young they assume you know nothing Sequin smile, black lipstick…” Yungblud rearranges the lyrics a bit, but more importantly, his tone is gentler than it is typically. His quieter voice contrasts his usual style of yelling with a more punky aggression. In previous acoustic covers he has showed that he’s incredibly capable of delivering stunning stripped down takes, but this is not as common from him. This is echoed in the way his plain acoustic guitar looks settled in his hands, as he’s adorned in a black, white and pink ensemble. The acoustic guitar is reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s country music and famous glittery guitar (or the “teardrops on [her] guitar”) days, while the black shirt and thin red tie are similar to Billie Joe Armstrong’s famous “American Idiot” outfit.
At the end of the first verse he introduces a new song while crescendoing, “Isn’t anyone trying to find me?/Somebody come take me home I knew you,” he sings. The tune and lyrics are from Avril Lavigne’s 2002 hit, “I’m with You,” off her iconic debut album, “Let Go.” He continues back into “Cardigan” with ease, “I knew you, dancing in your Levi’s.”
Swells of the live orchestral performers add to the depth and intimacy of the performance, coupled with the rawness of Yungblud’s voice. With his eyes closed and his face solemn, the emotional value of the song is clearly valued by Yungblood. He sings, “Trying to figure out this life/Won’t you take me by the hand take me somewhere new…Why is everything so confusing? Am I out of my mind?…Vintage tee, brand new phone…When you are young they assume you know nothing.” The emphasis on the “Cardigan” lyric “when you are young they assume you know nothing,” pairs with the meaning of “I’m With You,” which centers around feeling secure and certain in little else besides your own emotions.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) September 29, 2020
This mashup makes exceptional sense, and is indicative of the care taken by the mixer when selecting the songs to combine. The lyrics blend seamlessly. The tracks each focus on themes of loneliness and feeling found and both Taylor’s “folklore” and Avril’s “Let Go” explore adolescence. Then, the early 2000s style combined with the whimsy of the stringed instruments creates a powerful sound on the mashup. Yungblud’s BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge cover encapsulates the feeling of youth, tenderly and painfully.