Natalia Tsarikova is an opera singer from St Petersburg, Russia. After studying Opera in Milan she settled in Finland, where she started a popular YouTube channel on which she explores her interest in pop, jazz and rock. She has 181K subscribers, and her most popular videos have been viewed millions of times.
Tsarikova’s haunting cover of Evanescence’s My Immortal is her second most-watched YouTube video, with 4.3 million views. My Immortal was written by Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody, with a little help from singer Amy Lee, when he was 16 and she was 15. The (fictional) lyrics tell of someone who can’t shake off the spirit of a deceased love.
As many of the comments on the video show, Evanescence fans are fiercely loyal to Amy Lee. Comment after comment note that, until they encountered Tsarikova’s cover, the viewers had been of the opinion that only Amy Lee could do justice to the song. Amy Lee super-fan Walter Legere writes, “You, have achieved something that I really thought was not possible. Your version of My Immortal was not only brilliant but also very close to the original in every way. You literally killed it”.
It’s obvious that Natalia Tsarikova can sing, and her cover of My Immortal is notable for avoiding the over-elaboration that can bedevil opera singers’ takes on popular songs, but what does she sound like when her voice is in full flight? Fortunately, there are a couple of classical songs among the covers she has posted on YouTube. As you will hear, she really does have a powerful, trained operatic voice. Here, then, is Natalia Tsarikova’s fantastic reading of Franz Shubert’s Ave Maria.
Returning to the first video, Evanescence’s release of My Immortal was not as smooth as it might have been. Much to the band’s annoyance, their record company, Wind-up Records, insisted on using a demo of the song on their debut album, Fallen (2003). By the time My Immortal was released as the third single from Fallen, Ben Moody and Amy lee had more bargaining power. Fallen was already a massive success (it topped the UK album charts and was the 8th bestselling album in the US in 2004).
Moody and Lee insisted on releasing a full-band, orchestrated version of My Immortal as the single. This version also features on the popular video of the song, which was filmed in black and white in Barcelona (over 887m views on Youtube). The single was a top 20 hit in more than ten countries, according to Wikipedia. It was certified gold in the US (more than half a million copies sold) and platinum in Australia (over 70,000 units sold).
Ben Moody, who founded Evanescence with Amy Lee, left the band in 2003. Evanescence continues and is due to tour the USA with Muse, starting in April 2023. In July 2023, the band is scheduled to play at the Download festival in the UK.
One thing is clear: Evanescence fans tend to be very loyal. So if you chose to post an Evanescence song on YouTube, take care to do it justice. Well done Natalia Tsarikova, you passed with flying colours.