One of the most resonant songs from NEEDTOBREATHE's album, HARD LOVE, has been the title track. The song, which is all about enduring suffering in the midst of loving others who may not love you back, transcends the band's own personal experiences, as many folks can relate to a time when they've been hurt in the name of love--and thus, they're encouraged to "get back up" and keep their love on.
Since the release of the album version of "HARD LOVE," the band has unveiled not one, not two, but THREE aadditional versions of the song, each with a different female vocalist taking the second verse and adding harmonies.
These versions found their way to the recently released Hard Cuts EP, and so it was worth asking: Which version is the best? You all weighed in via Twitter, and some of our staff members rallied behind their favorites, defending their pick as "the best."
Here's how Twitter voted:
Now check out NRT's picks:
Lead Contributor Kevin Davis: The Andra Day version
The version of "HARD LOVE" by NEEDTOBREATHE featuring R&B/soul singer Andra Day is compelling music. The song personifies the band's challenge of standing up for what's right in a dark world. Bear Rinehart and Andra Day's powerful vocals lift this song to its highest point in the bridge: "When the wolves come and hunt me down, I will face them all and stand my ground, 'cause there's a fire burnin' in me, they will see my strength in this love I found." This version is the only one that resulted in a music video, and there's a reason for that: Andra's vocals help bring out the deep soulful expression of the ups and downs of relationships. (Learn more about my thoughts and the band's in this Behind the Song Devotional on "HARD LOVE.")
Executive Editor Marcus Hathcock: The Serena Ryder version
Look, I love the original as much as the next person, but this is the only stripped-down version of the song. With some exciting, dark chord switches in this version, a prominent bass line, and plenty of soulful/gospel-inspired background vocals (and lead vocals) make this almost a completely different song. It's fun to hear the pop-type stylings of the other versions, but this one has a rawness that is more in line with NEEDTOBREATHE's full career. It moves along, with not a lot of pauses between sections, keeping energy high, and yet the power really comes not from the tempo or the instrumentation, but rather the church choir-style power of the background vocalists, which propel the vocal performances of Rinehart and the Adele-like Serena Ryder to new dramatic levels. This one will easily get overlooked, yet it deserves to stand on its own as a worthy interpretation of an already strong track.
Contributor Phill Feltham: The Lauren Daigle version
It's easy to hear from even one listen to this song that "HARD LOVE" is a very demanding song, vocally speaking. And who but multi-award winning, chart topping, reigning queen of CCM Lauren Daigle could keep up with the substantial vocal chops of Bear Rinehart? Lauren's voice gives "HARD LOVE" an Adele-like sound, which adds extra atmosphere to the song. Consequently, this is why the other versions fall flat musically. Her voice just is too iconic and magnetic to compete with.
Associate Editor Mary Nikkel: The Original Version
Although all the versions of "HARD LOVE" have merit, the original still packs the strongest punch for me. The lack of additional vocalists to complicate the track keep it honed in on the raw emotion of the verses, strengthening the sense of internal resolve. This makes the original album version of the track my default go-to. Plus, the sheer fact that so many versions have emerged since the original released muddies the waters, eventually pointing listeners back to the original, to get a glimpse of the songwriters' original intent.
Which is your favorite version of "Hard Love"?
Assembled from the four corners of North America and many other corners in between, the NRTeam is comprised of staffers whose energy is equally dispersed towards loving music and writing about the music they love.
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