If you’ve been watching commercial TV in the UK recently, you’ll have seen an ad for holiday company TUI…they always seem to come along at the first sign of cold weather.
It’s full of usual holiday company commercial stuff…cloudless blue skies, inviting pools and exotic cocktails. The visual is pleasant enough, even though it could be for just about any holiday company in the world. (Although I’m pretty sure those aren’t real chefs in the kitchen sequence…)
The song which accompanies all these holiday-based shenanigans is a delight, though.
It’s a lovely version of Chaka Khan’s big hit from the 80s, “Ain’t Nobody”. But whereas that was a very upfront, funky performance, the song that goes with the TUI ad is a really chilled, laid-back version of the song.
Now I realise that chilled-out versions of 1980s funk classics aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. But I’ve got a firm, and long-held, belief that one of the definitions of a truly great song is that it can be performed in a range of entirely different styles and still sound brilliant.
For me, at least, the version of “Ain’t Nobody” used in the TUI commercial certainly passes that test.
It sounds like it’s being sung by someone who’s slightly distracted, singing half to themselves, contemplating the view from their sun-lounger as all the stresses and strains of their day-to-day life are gently soothed away under the tropical sun.
The strength of this performance of “Ain’t Nobody” is that it isn’t an “in your face” up-tempo production…which is always tempting for a holiday company trying to convince you that you’ll have lots of fun if you book your holiday with them…but the exact opposite.
As this commercial has become a fixture on our TV screens in recent weeks, I had been wondering for a while who sung this brilliant new version of “Ain’t Nobody”, as it clearly wasn’t Chaka Khan.
It’s delivered in a similar style to the Felix Jaehn remix of “Ain’t Nobody” a couple of years ago, which featured Jasmine Thompson on vocals. But it’s clearly not Jasmine Thompson’s vocals in the TUI ad either.
If anything, the TUI version is even more chilled-out than the already chilled-out Felix Jaehn/Jasmine Thompson version. (Just for completeness, that version is here… https://youtu.be/5j1RCys4R0g )
But earlier today I found out whose vocals had been used for this new TV ad. As I suspected, the central character in the TV ad also sings the soundtrack (either that, I’d figured, or this commercial featured an Olympic-standard lip-sync performer).
Thanks to the mysterious powers of Google, I can tell you that the singer is called Bethany Slater, and she does indeed play the main character in the commercial too.
I can’t tell you how much I like her version of “Ain’t Nobody”. If it was commercially available, I’d buy it…but it isn’t.
However you can have a look at the ad here if you want… https://youtu.be/qj6okQ2WBaw (please remember those aren’t real chefs…the number of health and safety issues in that kitchen don’t bear thinking about…)
What is available, though, is Chaka Khan’s original.
Written by David Wolinski, from the funk band Rufus, “Ain’t Nobody” was a Top 10 hit for Chaka Khan and Rufus back in the early 1980s.
One of my favourite sections of the lyrics is the very first line, which just says…
This is a phenomenal start to a set of lyrics. It’s a bit like the old novelist’s trick of starting their story halfway through, then backtracking during the course of the book to fill in the details and tell you how the characters found themselves in that situation in the first place.
It’s a technique novelists use to pull you into the story. They spark your curiosity so you want to learn more and so you stick with the book till the end. Films and TV dramas often use a similar technique…human beings are curious creatures by nature…
And those intriguing opening lyrics play pretty much the same role in “Ain’t Nobody”.
What was captured? Why was it captured? “Captured” almost implies a struggle of some sort…so how could it have been effortless?
So many questions and we’re not past the first line of the lyrics yet…
However, because this is a three minute song and not a 400 page novel, we find out pretty quickly just what was going on.
Happened so naturally
I did not know it was love
The next thing I felt was
You holding me close
What was I gonna do
I let myself go
So this is love at first sight. That happens a lot in novels, movies and popular songs. Perhaps it’s a little less common in real life, but nonetheless something we all aspire to.
Chaka Khan’s original version felt like an experience she was singing about in real time. We were almost there with her as she discovers those feelings for herself.
Bethany Slater’s version is more contemplative and is almost sung as if she’s nuzzled up against the love of her life at the end of a delightful day together, remembering when they first met and how that person made her feel.
As those warm and happy thoughts gently ripple through her mind, she realises…
Loves me better
Makes me feel this way
Loves me better than you
If you’ve ever had the experience of meeting someone who make you feel that way…and I hope you have…you’ll really like Bethany Slater’s treatment of “Ain’t Nobody”.
You’ll be able to think back to the first time you met and how that special person made you feel. And you’ll still be able to recall those exact feelings in an instant every time you hold them close.
Although those feelings might not be at the forefront of your mind as you go to work and get through your daily chores, all it takes is the touch of their hand, their lips gently brushing against yours, the look in their eyes when you share an unspoken thought over dinner with your friends. You remember in an instant how they made you feel that first time…and how you still feel about them today.
The spirit of those feelings is what Bethany Slater’s version of “Ain’t Nobody” brings to mind every time I hear it. (Which is quite frequently, as this is peak holiday advertising season…)
And don’t get sniffy about her version being the soundtrack to a TV commercial. This is a great treatment of an 80s classic.
Although every word is identical to Chaka Khan’s version, both versions give an entirely different feel to the same topic.
You can find the link to Bethany Slater’s version above, but as that’s not a commercially available full-length version at the moment, I’ve linked to Chaka Kahn’s original instead. Written by David Wolinski from funk band Rufus who also get a performance credit on the record, here’s Chaka Khan and Rufus with “Ain’t Nobody”…
The video is below, but if you prefer to listen to this track on Spotify, you can find it here… https://open.spotify.com/track/2NVpYQqdraEcQwqT7GhUkh
(PS — just before we get to the video, if you enjoyed this article, please give it a “clap”….or more than one if you’re feeling generous. You can give up to 50 claps for each article, and you’ll be helping other people discover great songs with every clap you give.)