American Idol contestant Samothias earned a trip to Hollywood by flavoring “Tennessee Whiskey” with modern R&B and soul vibes. The performance further proved the musical versatility of a song Chris Stapleton reintroduced to the masses.
The 20-year-old Illinois native first caught the judges’ attentions with his Odell Beckham, Jr. hairstyle. Fair or not, aesthetics matter on reality television. Afterwards, he upped his odds by showing off his classical piano training, playing along while adding a personal touch to an old George Jones and David Allan Coe song.
Stapleton’s blues-rock sensibilities and singing talent made the song a hit in recent years, making it ideal cover song material for an Idol hopeful. It offers enough breathing room for vocalists to add their own wrinkles to it. Plus, Stapleton’s cover first pointed the masses to a future chart-topper’s vocal talents. No wonder a singer without country music ambitions picked it to display his vocal range.
Samothias makes the most of each melodic run, revealing glimpses of his range and delivery. He doesn’t sound like a country singer, even in the pop-friendly sense. Fortunately, this song doesn’t necessarily need a country singer. In fact, his soulful rendition makes “Tennesee Whiskey” sound like a would-be crossover hit by Ray Charles.