Why Has Lauryn Hill Been Tweaking Her Classics At Rock The Bells?

Idolator Staff | August 31, 2010 9:45 am

We’ve been thrilled to see the breathtaking Lauryn Hill mount her return to major public performances over the last week. But we have been a little curious about her decision to speed up or re-arrange a number of her classics. Sure, Beyonce and Jay-Z are happy to join her on stage. But does everyone want to hear “Doo Wop (That Thing)” at warp speed? Lauryn finally addresses the critics. See for yourself below.

Not everyone has been a fan of Lauryn’s recent performances. David Malitz of the Washington Post described her arrangements at Rock The Bells’ D.C. stop (where Lauryn took the stage three hours late because she was getting a manicure-pedicure) as “clunky” and “overstuffed”.

But Lauryn herself says there’s a good reason she’s been changing up the songs from her incredible catalog, which includes hits from the Fugees and her own solo debut (and masterpiece), The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. She told MTV’s Shaheem Reid:

“There’s been such a long period of time where I haven’t been able to communicate where my mind is, where my consciousness is, where my ideas are… I have to upgrade them a bit so that they’re still exciting and fresh and they’re new. There’s something almost jazz-like the way I approach performances. I’m not sure if the audience really understands. We need, or at least I need, a certain amount of spontaneity, a certain amount of improvisation every show.”

Clearly, there’s room for exploration in these songs, not least because we’ve been hearing them the same way (that is, in their original recorded form) since Lauryn retreated from the public eye almost a decade ago. But we do think perhaps it might be smart for Lauryn to proceed with caution — spontaneity is cool, but it’s also risky to deny longtime fans the show they came to see.