24 Nov Engelbert Humperdinck & Janet Devlin release duet
Call it a surprise pop pairing or a festive fairytale. Engelbert Humperdinck and Janet Devlin’s sumptuous cover of the Elvis classic Can’t Help Falling In Love is both a tender tribute with a modern twist and a cross-generational ode to love and loss that seeks solace in troubled times.
A duet performed from different perspectives, the magical song teams the legendary king of love ballads with the young, Irish star whose breakthrough came on X Factor. Can’t Help Falling In Love, made famous by Elvis in his film Blue Hawaii, was Janet’s grandfather’s favourite song. In the week he passed away, the then 16-year-old performed it live on X Factor and it has been a fan favourite and staple of her set ever since.
Engelbert, who was friends with Elvis, caught the TV performance and was blown away. Before they’d ever met, the unlikely pair had an invisible bond. Three years ago, Janet attended Engelbert’s show at the Royal Court Theatre and, backstage, the two were finally introduced. Discussing their shared love of the song led to a plan this year to perform it together, in May, at Engelbert’s planned show at London’s Palladium.
When Coronavirus caused the concert to be cancelled, the pair, who are now label mates, vowed to record their version remotely. Lifted as a single from Engelbert’s new covers EP Sentiments, the striking version beautifully blends Janet’s spectral, soulful vocals with Engelbert’s rich baritone. For the King of Love Ballads, as his fans have dubbed him for decades, the song is an affirmation of his feelings for the love of his life, his wife Patricia, and the sense of loss of communication he deals with every day as a result of her affliction with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I have always adored Can’t Help Falling In Love by my good friend Elvis when he recorded it almost 60 years ago,” says Engelbert. “This year when the opportunity arrived to record it as a duet with the incredible Janet Devlin I was intrigued as there is about the same age difference between us as to when it was first performed by Elvis and his leading lady in Blue Hawaii.
“Janet and I have performed it not as a love song, but as a loving tribute to people very near and dear to our hearts. I am dedicating it to my wife of 54 years, Patricia. Janet is dedicating it to her grandfather Michael. Together, we have created a new version which we believe packs an emotional punch with its hopeful message of love… especially in these difficult times.”
Janet, who released both her album Confessional and book My Confessional in 2020, said of the collaboration “This song holds so much emotion for me which spans nearly a decade. Performing it with Engelbert on stage would have been the icing on the cake, so you can imagine how disappointed we were when that couldn’t happen. But when I heard that we might be able to record it together, albeit remotely, I jumped at the chance! It might seem unconventional but the pairing really works, we were able to alternate and sing the lines that mean the most to us and of course, he’s an utter legend which made the experience all the more amazing!”
On December 12th, Engelbert will perform his first ever Christmas Special, an exclusive and intimate concert which will be livestreamed from his home in California, featuring festive family favourites and seasonal songs.