Joshua Ray Walker’s ‘Hello’ Cover Is an Homage to Lionel Richie’s Super-’80s Video, Too [WATCH]
Joshua Ray Walker's cover of Lionel Richie's '80s hit "Hello" has become an oft-requested live song, but he's never officially released the cover until now. The Texas singer and songwriter officially shared his rendition on Friday (May 21).
In Walker's hands, Richie's 1984 No. 1 turns from a piano-driven ballad with the musical flourishes of that decade into an upbeat shuffle with steady drums, touches of fiddle and country harmonies on that famous chorus line: "Hello, is it me you're looking for?"
"I arranged the cover a long time ago, and it’s one of the only songs that isn’t mine that gets requested regularly at shows," Walker shares in a press release. "When I had the chance to cut it full band during [the sessions for my 2020 album Glad You Made It], I knew I had to.”
Of course, part of the appeal of "Hello" more than three decades after its release is its delightfully of-the-times music video, which features Richie as a theater professor with what he believes is an unrequited crush on a student, who happens to be blind. Even with the present-day ick factor of the storyline's power dynamics, the clip has become something of a classic for its out-of-nowhere story details -- including that ending scene involving a clay sculpture of Richie's head.
Faced with the restrictions of the COVID-19 quarantine, Walker dreamed up his own version of the "Hello" music video: a shot-for-shot remake of sorts, filmed at home on an iPhone under the direction of Nathan Mongol Wells. Walker portrays both Richie's character and his love interest, some mannequins fill other roles -- and, of course, the sculpture scene makes the cut.
"We did our best to recreate the '80s magic. Making something with zero expectations was very freeing; the fact that anyone is going to see this is a miracle," Walker says. "I’m excited for people to see a more lighthearted side of me that isn’t on display in my more despondent originals."
Prior to releasing his sophomore album in 2020, Walker dropped his debut record, Wish You Were Here, in 2019. Now in his 30s, he's been a working musician since he was 13 years old.
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