The true art of doing a cover of a classic is re-imagining the essence of the song without taking away from the brilliance of the original. This is exactly what Australian singer-songwriter Sia managed to do on her version ‘California Dreamin”. Sia recorded her take on the track for the upcoming movie San Andreas about a natural disaster that is about to destroy the earth. The doom and overall ominous vibe in the movie is something that you hear in the soundtrack as well.
Sia’s version of ‘California Dreamin” starts out nothing like the original we all know. We hear piano and a choir and a slower interpretation by Sia that definitely has a darker atmosphere. Sia’s mighty vocals in combination with the orchestra in the first part are a gorgeous combination that sets a mood in a more than convincing manner. If you ask me, this first part could have lasted longer, but once more instruments kick in, Sia’s version sounds like a completely updated version of the original, which has its charm as well. The bridge where Sia provides her own backing vocals (an important element of the recording by the Mamas & the Papas) is outstanding and makes her rendition even more theatrical and dramatic. I have said it before and I will say it again: Sia is a genius in pop music and this song is just another proof of this theory.
This YouTube recording misses the last 20 seconds, but you will get the idea: