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Gavin DeGraw Reacts to T-Pain’s Cover of ‘I Don’t Want to Be’



T-Pain recently posted a snippet of his live cover performance of Gavin DeGraw’s debut hit — and DeGraw, 46, was definitely impressed.

T-Pain, 39, performed DeGraw’s 2004 double platinum song “I Don’t Want to Be” for his new live album, On Top of the Covers (Live From the Sun Rose), which was recorded in March at a West Hollywood club.

“Love it man!” DeGraw wrote via X (formerly known as Twitter) on Wednesday, December 27, after watching the clip. Numerous fans chimed in to agree, with one person writing, “This is still the anthem of my life.” Another fan responded, “I love his version!! It’s so interesting to hear other artists cover your songs and see how they change it up. Would love to see his entire performance.”

“I Don’t Want to Be” was originally included on DeGraw’s 2003 debut album, Chariot. It was also featured as the theme song for One Tree Hill, which aired from 2003 to 2012. The tune was nominated for a Billboard Music Award for Top Soundtrack Single of the Year.

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In June 2022, Degraw said on The Bobby Bones Show that he initially rejected the request to use his song for One Tree Hill because he “hated TV and didn’t ever watch it.” He was eventually convinced to grant permission for the song to become the show’s theme, at which point it became even more popular.

In 2016, DeGraw told he wrote the song as a message to adolescents, encouraging them to be themselves and to not let outside factors change their personalities.

“That song was heavily influenced by the identity crisis right now that exists amongst youth,” he said. “It’s almost like you can go into any town in the country and the kids don’t necessarily have an identity of their own; it’s like whatever is on television is who they are.”

T-Pain’s cover is one of 22 tracks featured on the live version of On Top of the Covers, which dropped on Friday, December 22. The singer is known for popularizing the use of the Auto-Tune vocal enhancing recording technique, but for On Top of the Covers, he used his natural singing voice.

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“For all the people who wanted an album of me singing live, this is my holiday gift to you,” he said while announcing the new release. “For the Tiny Desk & Masked Singer fans and everyone in between, you ain’t heard nothing yet. Thank you all for supporting me through this wild journey.”

“I’m so excited for the world to hear and see this,” he added. “Since it’s the gift-giving time of year, I decided to release the full performance. Let’s keep the good times rolling into 2024!”

The Grammy winner originally released a studio version of On Top of the Covers in March that contained eight songs. His live version includes most of those tracks plus covers of Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much,” Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” and more.

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