There is a certain theatricality to Swift’s relationship with her public image, which became the centerpiece of her highly anticipated new album, Reputation. But her lines are given new life through the prism of the Broadway twosome’s performance.
The original production is a moody electro-trap smash that veers that into edgy territory with gunshot rings, Auto-Tune and world-weary lyrics like, “This is how the world works / You gotta leave before you get left.” In other words, it has New Taylor written all over it.
But Bean and Erivo’s cover brings the song back to basics, accompanied by finger-plucked violin and a cello. The duo breaks down the fourth wall, staring down the camera as they deliver Swift’s twisted verses.
Stripped of the original’s industrialized sensory overload, venom still manages to pour out of their softly sung notes. The Broadway stars’ acting skills are ever-present in their delivery. Even though they sit still throughout the entire four minutes, their subtle changes in expression stay in tune with the lyrical storytelling. When the bridge hits, their vocal runs add a mournful dimension to unapologetic lines like, “They’re burning all the witches even if you aren’t one/ So light me up.”
The minimalist adaptation actually isn’t that far of a deviation from the original. Swift revealed during her iHeartRadio release party that she actually wrote the song on a piano.
Watch Shoshana Bean and Cynthia Erivo’s cover of “I Did Something Bad” below: