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Finding the Gospel sound Bono was looking for

J-P Mauro - published on 10/11/21

Rogelio Douglas Jr. is a true showman with a flawless Gospel voice, as shown in this cover of the U2 hit.

We have previously talked about how U2’s classic hit “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is a Gospel song at heart. In fact, the famed rock band even recorded a Gospel version of the tune in 1988. In 2019, Rogelio Douglas Jr. got his hands on the tune and turned it into a true Gospel hit. 

With all the showmanship of a young James Brown, Douglas takes the song at near double speed. It transforms the tune from a contemplative six minutes into a thrilling three. Where the original vocal features Bono’s clear unwavering high notes, Douglas’ treatment is full of expressive melisma and improvisation on the melodic line. 

Back in the mid-20th century many artists with Gospel tones were called out for using church music in pop. An example of this was documented in the Ray Charles biopic of 2004. Here, however, is an example from the other side, a pop song that is “taken to church,” as Douglas cries before the last verse.

The song could be considered hymn-like in its own right. The lyrical design is distinctly Christian and speaks to a longing for something more than the mundane normality of human life — something divine. The singer lists things that done for the sake of finding this “something greater” before finally exclaiming, in unequivocal Christian terms: 

I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
But yes I’m still running
You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
You know I believe it

It’s a rare cover that improves on the original. Only a few readily come to mind: The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” for instance. It can seem almost pointless to cover a song without bringing something new to it. In this case, Rogelio Douglas Jr. has transformed the song into a creature of his own design. We can only imagine how much grander it would be with a full Gospel choir.

Tags:
Christian MusicGospel
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