Battle of the Bands (#BOTB): Drops of Jupiter by Train

It’s mid-month in June and that means it is Battle of the Bands time. I am in love with the song I’ve chosen for today, and even more so after researching it and discovering how the song was inspired. Without further ado, let’s dig into “Drops of Jupiter” by Train.

Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” (simply “Drops of Jupiter” on the album) is a song written and recorded by American rock band Train. It was released in February 2001 as the lead single from their second album Drops of Jupiter. The song hit the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and also charted in the top 40 for 29 weeks. The song was ranked at No. 4 on Billboard’s 2001 list of top singles of the year, a spot higher than the song peaked. (I think that’s unusual, no?)

Anyway, the recording features the signature strings of arranger Paul Buckmaster, who won the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for “Drops of Jupiter.”

Lead singer Patrick Monahan has stated that the song was inspired by his late mother, who had died after a struggle with cancer, and that the opening lines “came to [him] in a dream.” He said,

“The process of creation wasn’t easy. I just couldn’t figure out what to write, but then I woke up from a dream about a year after my mother passed away with the words ‘back in the atmosphere…It was just her way of saying what it was like – she was swimming through the planets and came to me with drops of Jupiter in her hair.”

The verse has a noted resemblance to the chorus of “Drift Away”, a song most famously performed by Dobie Gray, another song that is in my list of all-time favorites.

Critical Reception: Chuck Taylor of Billboard magazine reviewed the song favorably, saying that it

“demonstrates a truly artistic lyrical bent that merits instant acceptance of this credible rock-edged song.” He sums up the review saying “add piano, a splendid orchestral backdrop, and a vocal shimmering with passion and personality, and this is a runaway track for Train.”

“Drops of Jupiter” ascended to the top 10 of the Adult Contemporary chart in its 49th week, marking the longest climb to the top 10 on that tally by any act. The song has spent over 100 weeks on the Adult Contemporary charts, and is still charting on the Recurrents chart. Although the song was released years before digital download became commonplace, the song has sold over 1,000,000 downloads (it was also certified Gold by the RIAA), and hit the top 50 of the Digital Songs charts five years after its release due to Ace Young singing it on the fifth season of American Idol.

Here is Train’s outstanding “Drops of Jupiter.” This is not part of the battle and presented here only for your enjoyment. See battle contenders below.

 

Okay, I’m throwing a curve ball into my battle today…I think I found some decent covers of this song. As I was searching I also found some good acoustic covers so I thought I’d have two parts to my battle: Part 1 – a battle of Electronic covers, and Part 2 – a battle of Acoustic covers. If you all like the song as much as I do, you won’t mind this two-parter.

Part 1 – ELECTRONIC COVERS

CONTENDER #1: Anthem Lights – Anthem Lights is an American Christian group originating from Nashville, Tennessee. The group has released one EP under their former name and two albums under their current name. The group’s debut album was released May 10, 2011 by Reunion Records.

Anthem Lights began as a solo project for vocalist Chad Graham in the fall of 2007. Both he and Alan Powell were living in Los Angeles, writing music for Graham’s solo project. As the final vocal work was being installed, Powell and Graham came to a realization that the songs being written would be more appropriate performed as a group. It was then that Powell and Graham decided to alert their contacts at Liberty University in an effort to recruit members for what is now a singing group.

Powell and Graham’s contacts came to a consensus that Kyle Kupecky and Caleb Grimm would be the best candidates for the project. After receiving notifications by e-mail, Graham flew from Los Angeles to meet with Kupecky and Grimm, who gladly accepted membership. Powell joined the group at the last minute. (The original name of the group was Yellow Cavalier. The group recorded one self-titled EP under this name in 2009. The EP was released independently on May 26, 2009. The group changed their name to Anthem Lights before any other projects were released).

This is the Anthem Lights version of “Drops of Jupiter”, released in July of 2015:

 

CONTENDER #2:  Matt McAndrew – Matthew Brendan “Matt” McAndrew (born September 6, 1990) – Hey, he has the same birthday as me! Although I guess I have a few years on him…

Matt is a singer-songwriter best known for his appearance in Season 7 of NBC’s reality TV singing competition, The Voice, where he finished as the runner-up as part of Adam Levine’s team.

McAndrew grew up in the small town of Barnegat Light, New Jersey, and has been writing songs and performing in bands since he was a young child. During his senior year at the Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, New Jersey, he decided to pursue a music career. He attended the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, graduating in 2013.

In his earlier days, McAndrew started writing solo acoustic material and playing his songs at open mic nights, ice cream parlors, and bars in 2010. He worked at Bach To Rock, a national music school franchise with a location in suburban Philadelphia, teaching voice, guitar and ukulele. He self-released an album called View of The Pines on March 1, 2014.

His big break came later that year. On September 4, 2014, it was announced that McAndrew would compete in season 7 of The Voice. During his Blind Audition, he covered Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years.” Three coaches (Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams) turned around. He chose Adam Levine as his coach.

At the Battle rounds, McAndrew faced Ethan Butler where they sang “Yellow”. McAndrew was chosen over Butler, and advanced to the Knockout rounds. During the Knockouts, McAndrew covered “Drops of Jupiter”, defeated Rebekah Samarin, and advanced to the Live Playoffs.

For more details of his performances and standings in that season, see the Matt McAndrew Wikipedia page.

Here is his version of “Drops of Jupiter” from his performance on The Voice:

 

Part 2: ACOUSTIC COVERS

I found four really good acoustic covers of this song and had a hard time deciding which two to showcase. I’m still undecided at the 11th hour but I guess I’m going to go with these two, one a female vocalist from Canada and the other a trio of brothers from Florida. If you are interested in hearing the other two acoustic artists that I was considering, let me know in the Comments section and I’ll include them in the Results post.

CONTENDER #1: Jess Moskaluke – Jess Moskaluke (born June 4, 1990 in Langenburg, Saskatchewan) is a Canadian Country/country pop singer. She released her debut studio album, Light Up the Night in April 2014, which includes the Platinum-certified single “Cheap Wine and Cigarettes.”

In June 2011, Moskaluke won the Next Big Thing contest, sponsored by Big Dog 92.7 and SaskMusic. In September 2011, she won the New Artist Showcase Award at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards. She was chosen to represent Canada at the Global Artist Party at the 2012 CMA Music Festival.

Her version of “Drops of Jupiter” is from her album Cover Up, Vol 2, released in June 2012:

CONTENDER #2: Boyce AvenueBoyce Avenue is an American pop and rock band formed in Sarasota, Florida, by brothers Alejandro Luis Manzano, Daniel Enrique Manzano, and Fabian Rafael Manzano. The brothers attended Pine View School in Osprey, Florida. The band is named after a combination of two streets the brothers lived on as children. As of August 9, 2011, they are no longer signed to Universal Republic Records and have started their own independent record label called 3 Peace Records. Boyce Avenue releases original music as well as covers of contemporary and classic songs on YouTube. Boyce Avenue has also collaborated with many other YouTube artists.

Boyce Avenue frequently tours in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

This version of “Drops of Jupiter” was taken from the Covers EP Influential Sessions (2009), which came right after doing four volumes of Acoustic Sessions.

 

TIME TO VOTE! Which versions do you like better and why? Please choose one contender from each of the two battles, the Electronic battle AND the Acoustic battle.

When you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

Thanks for your participation and your votes! Voting will be open until midnight on the 21st and I’ll post results on the 22nd or shortly thereafter. Until then, Rock On my friends…