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  • David Bentley

Non-Nordic Sunday - Christina Perri: the difference a decade made to a ‘Jar of Hearts’

I wouldn’t normally write about American singer-songwriter Christina Perri but having just mentioned her in a review I’m writing of the wonderful Gurli Octavia (her album is out on 29th January, don’t miss it) and then coincidentally coming across a recent video of Christina I simply couldn’t put it off. Fortunately, Non-Nordic Sunday provides the catalyst.

Last summer saw the 10-year anniversary of Perri’s ‘Jar of Hearts’, a song I’ve always rated very highly despite my propensity to overlook mainstream American singers and their chart bangers. Her breakthrough song, one that was picked up for the TV show ‘So you think you can dance?’ is her biggest hit (it charted at #4 in the UK), but the single she is probably better known for is ‘A thousand years’ which has for example 1.75 billion hits on the YouTube video compared to a miserly 387 million for Jar of Hearts. But while the former is a little run-of-the-mill in my view, the latter is pure class. To mark the anniversary Perri released an acoustic version of Jar of Hearts and both of the videos are available to watch here. The contrast shows just what a talented and thoughtful artist she is.

There is a clear distinction of style between the two versions. The former (original) is born of youthful bitterness at her betrayal by the loser who’s added her heart to his collection in a jar and the latter seemingly out of a more mature, adult interpretation of life (she’s now married, with a daughter) and the acknowledgement that, well, s**t happens, let’s just move on. The difference between The Sopranos, or Peaky Blinders, and Friends.

As many have pointed out, it is as if she’s giving advice to her younger self in the updated version and the video editing which portrays her face contorting, teeth-gnashing anger in the original over her calm acceptance of her circumstances replete with little smiles in the new one is illuminating. It’s almost as if she feels sorry for him. As she says, “I’ve grown too strong to fall back in your arms.”

Perri is rarely mentioned in the same breath as, say, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, or Ariana Grande. That possibly has something to do with the fact that her recording career has taken a dive since the 2014 album ‘Head or Heart’, with three singles and a ‘lullaby’ album dedicated to her daughter since 2015 failing to chart just about anywhere. Hopefully there will be more to come. That she has talent in spades is unquestionable and her voice on the acoustic version here has aged like a fine wine (but she doesn’t seem to have aged at all).

A couple of things I’d point out that set the really talented apart. Firstly that almost imperceptible little example of melisma (I think that’s the correct technical phrase) at 1:43 in the original (she does it not quite so evidently in the acoustic version). Magic.

Secondly, one of the greatest lines (and ‘roasts’ of an adversary) in pop music, “You’re gonna catch (a) cold, from the ice inside your soul”. (She sings it differently on the two versions). Brilliant.

2010 version:

2020 version:

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