Covers, at their best, are able to capture the same energy that the original song did, with a slightly updated twist to the music, but in the lyric video for The Side Deal’s version of the Johnny Nash classic “I Can See Clearly Now,” there’s an argument to be made that the former takes the latter’s work to the next level. In their rendition of “I Can See Clearly Now,” The Side Deal put a lot of stock into the track’s signature harmony while abandoning the sonic primping that went into the original, maxing out their edginess while staying true to the spirit of Nash’s iconic composition.
There’s a heck of a lot more of a punch to the percussion in this song than I was expecting to find, but this isn’t a negative attribute at all – the exact opposite in all honesty. With a crunchy garage beat to facilitate the R&B swing of the bassline, there isn’t much of the reggae energy from the old school “I Can See Clearly Now” left intact, but this isn’t a bad thing, either. The mistake that most artists make when developing a cover song is trying to recreate the original in every way; instead of doing that, The Side Deal really are making this single and its video their own.
Visually, the lyric video for “I Can See Clearly Now” is one of the more elaborate that I’ve seen for any track out of the American underground in a long time. There’s a consistent stream of exciting images that fluidly take us from one beat to the next without ever interrupting the flow of the music in the foreground. I don’t know if The Side Deal were trying to create something as cinematic as they did here, but no matter the case, I really dig the end result of their work.
The strings don’t get as much love in the master mix as I would have liked, but I suppose I can understand why. If The Side Deal’s main plan was to make this a vocal-centric piece defined by the weight of its words, they couldn’t allow for any more of an instrumental presence than they already did. The guitar parts have a hint of psychedelia in their bones, and though I can appreciate what they contribute to the inner-stitching of the music, they probably would have taken a lot of heat away from the singing if they were any louder in comparison to their equally-melodic counterparts.
I can’t speak for every critic on the underground beat right now, but I personally think that The Side Deal – if they continue forward with this project – are going to have a very fantastic future ahead of them regardless of what kind of material they choose to produce. Despite the tough times that we’re collectively experiencing, music like theirs is probably what we need now more than ever. “I Can See Clearly Now” is a reminder to take things easy and one day at a time, which is good advice no matter where it’s coming from.