Watch Mary Lambert Sing Wheatus' 'Teenage Dirtbag': Candid Covers Video

Kate Glicksberg

Mary Lambert photographed in New York City during her "Candid Covers" video session, November 2013

This installment of Billboard's "Candid Covers" video series, presented by Nikon, captures Lambert singing Wheatus' song.

Mary Lambert, who rose into the spotlight in 2013 as the dulcet female voice on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' hit same-sex relationship anthem "Same Love," recently visited Billboard's studio for a Candid Covers session to sing her tender take on Wheatus' 2000 single "Teenage Dirtbag"  -- a song that the 24-year-old says captured all of her burgeoning emotions back when she was a newly-out high schooler.

PHOTOS: Mary Lambert's Candid Covers Session

"I was in high school when I came out. I was 17 and I heard that song and I was floored," she explains of her reaction to the Wheatus track. "I was so excited because it captured all of those feelings in high school: your first love, and they don't even know that you exist and then they do know you exist. It captured that time for me, that first love time."

For her Candid Covers session, Lambert brought a ballad-like, keys-driven vibe to the originally rocking "Teenage Dirtbag." "The only thing I know how to do is make things sad, so that was easy,"  Lambert laughs, talking of her beautiful, plaintive version of the song. "It just accessed that part of my voice that was sort of like pleading."

For Lambert, who fondly recalls that she "started writing songs when I was four, to my beanie babies" and who at 13 got a weekly gig singing at her local Starbucks by boldly calling up the manager and getting an audition, she has come a long way in music since her formative years, but it hasn't been easy. 2013 has truly been the start of her moment, however, -- a life-changing year, in fact her EP "Welcome to the Age of My Body" is coming December 17. And she recalls this moment started with a call from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to sing on "Same Love."

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About four years ago is when she dedicated herself to "really trying to make it and be successful in what I wanted to do. During that time I had been sleeping in my car and I didn't have a bed. Then I was working three jobs and I got a call to do 'Same Love.' I was still working three jobs at that point. This has literally been a year and a half. So to go from that  point right before that phone call from them and then to be here now, to be at the VMAs and talking about the Grammys, all of this stuff, it's not real. It doesn't feel real," she says with a smile.

Of her hook from "Same Love," Lambert keys into "the beauty of seeing women of all demographics of all backgrounds singing 'she keeps me warm' and not caring that it's a female pronoun and that I sang it because I'm gay -- nobody cares. I was sure people were going to care and they were going to change the words  to it. Nobody cares. They're singing it because it's about love and it's a universal truth." It's an observation she finds empowering for the future. "That just gave me so much strength of what I can do on a bigger scale, on a bigger platform."

Video: Mary Lambert sings "She Keeps Me Warm," live at Billboard

During her Candid Covers session at Billboard, which was also captured in photos, Lambert also sang "She Keeps Me Warm" as well as "Body Love," and you can watch video of those special performances in the video players directly above and below.

Video: Mary Lambert sings "Body Love" live at Billboard


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