Taio Cruz - Dynamite

Taio Cruz released Dynamite in 2010. It still is frequently featured on television and the radio, and has a series of catchy hooks that make the song hard to forget. While it has been covered many times, a YouTube user named Mike Tompkins posted a very unique acapella version worth checking out:

Tompkins' version was created using only vocals as an instrument. At the end of the video he goes through the different sounds, adding one on top of the other so listeners can hear how all the individual sounds come together to make a pretty impressive cover version. Acapella groups use a similar technique for cover songs but generally do not attempt to recreate each individual sound from the original version. This version of Dynamite offers some insight into how incredible the human voice is, but also shows some limitations, as it does not have quite the punch that Taio Cruz's original seems to possess.


  1. Chris,
    Reading your blog, I am discovering that your insight is DYNAMITE! I like the layout of this particular post, using the space between the two videos to describe the content of this particular blog post. Starting your post with a video puts the reader in the right mindset for your blog. I also like how this post relates directly to the preceding post about copyright issues. Perhaps next time, mention how this type of "acapella" cover is received from a copright standpoint.

  2. Chris-
    I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of these two versions of a very popular song. I have listened to the radio version or the top version may times and it has a very powerful way of pumping me up. However, the second version, the acapella version, as you point out in your post, does not have the same effect. Yet, it is more real, more natural. In my post for this week, I talk about the ability of magazines to photoshop celebrities to give them that "perfect face/body," although the final version of the picture is not real. To me, the ability of producers to enhance a song like Dynamite seems somewhat similar in this respect. The digitized, almost falsified, version of a song is strikingly similar to the photoshopped, altered picture of a celebrity. The real picture and the real vocals are lost and sadly overshadowed by the computer-enhanced versions.


  3. Chris,

    I like how you separate writing about copyright issues from those that introduce specific covers. Thus readers who are only concerned about legal issues regarding covers can skip posts that focus on the music while music enthusiasts can circumvent those discussing copyrights. Since I am interested in both, I found alternating between music cover comparison through Youtube videos and reading about related controversial issues mixed up the reading quite well.

    Your contrast of Tompkins’ version of “Dynamite” with Cruz’s original makes me wonder for the first time to what extend does a song remain a cover and at what point does a cover becomes so altered with another artist's creativity that it should no longer be considered the property (or sole property) of the original artist? These questions are very difficult to answer as there is a fine line between originality and copying. But Tompkins changed “Dynamite” so much that I almost feel he deserves the most credit for this creation despite the lyrics and tone of the song did not change. If we charge for cover music downloads, then I feel anyone downloading Tompkins’ version (some do because it’s so good and ingenious!) should not only pay Cruz but also pay Tompkins and paying Tompkins more than Cruz.


  4. Wow, this is really cool, Chris. I think you're already proving that you shouldn't need to worry about people being interested in your topic in the same way that you are. I think it's really important that you included the post below on the copyright issues because that seems to be the most obvious concern with making a cover of a song. Choosing a popular song like Taio Cruz and showing this acapella cover of it engages the reader and then provides new information in a way someone might not always think!

  5. Thanks for posting this! I've actually been rather turned off by the whole autotune or techno feel to most songs these days because many unskilled singers are getting a lot of press while other talented singers are fading into the background. I rather like Taio Cruz as he is a good performer and I've also always had a great respect for the whole concept of singing cover songs A Cappella. As you point out, the human voice, although beautiful does have some limitations, but I'm still mesmerized as to how close Tompkin's version comes pretty damn close to the original.

    Overall, I also love the concept of your entire blog. I think you break up the text in your blog really neatly and the variety of topics of you've discussed so far is not only informative, but refreshing. I look forward to reading more!

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  7. Thank you so much for this introduction to Mike Tompkins. I just listened to all of his covers and I think they're absolutely great. He reminds me a lot of Sam Tsui, who also produces an assortment of AT40 covers with his friend Kurt Schneider (see http://www.youtube.com/user/KurtHugoSchneider).

    While I agree that parsing a song and performing each musical nuance highlights the limits of the human voice, I think the fact that Tompkins was able to recreate the song using only his voice and mouth packs more punch than any auto-tuned hit on the radio today. He has a real talent for picking apart a song and recreating it from the ground up, essentially. His covers are a testament to the power of a 100% organic human voice, no additives needed