Melanie Martinez’s folk-inspired rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” which was originally performed on the Sept. 17 episode of The Voice Season 3, is quite possibly one of the rare cases of a cover version not just improving on the original, but being so good that it stands well on its own, making the original obsolete.
The original version of Toxic was nothing special. The song was too simple, and does not justify even Spears’ limited vocal prowess. What it has going for it is the thumping, heavy beats framed by a gritty guitar hook. With Melanie Martinez’ version, it is the opposite – the slightly-danceable, rock riff is gone. What’s left in place is an acoustic guitar and a tambourine serving as backup. However, Martinez compensates for the thinner sonic framework by replacing Spears’ barely-considered-as-singing parts with a soulful, melodic, and ranged performance that brings the song to places that Spears can never reach even on her prime.
There are actually two versions of Melanie Martinez’ cover of Toxic. The first is the one she originally performed on The Voice, which only had an acoustic guitar and a tambourine as a backup, making it more rooted in folk, while the other version, dubbed as the Studio Version, has a more sophisticated and polished backup, resulting in the song sounding like something from Kelly Dayton-era Sneaker Pimps.