Review: Niall Horan Shares New Stunning Version of “You Could Start a Cult” with Lizzy McAlpine

An undisputed standout on Niall Horan‘s The Show is the off-kilter love song, “You Could Start a Cult.” The track helped Horan with his goal of finding new ways to say things on his third record. It’s a wonder that anyone has anything new to say in the love song persuasion, but Horan proved there were still more stones to turn over with this track.

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Horan has shared a new version of the track with rising star Lizzy McAlpine for the Encore edition of the record. The latter’s soft, agile vocals have wowed the melancholy partial crowd for the last couple of years. Her breakout song “Ceilings” was a runaway hit on TikTok and clearly caught the attention of the former One Direction member.

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind “Heaven” by Niall Horan]

Like the original version of the song, Horan takes on the first verse in his comforting tenor. The difference in the two versions is ushered in by McAlpine during the second verse. Horan has had many a duet partner in his solo career. He seems to have a knack for choosing complimentary voices. His and McAlpine’s voices blend so perfectly together, that we wouldn’t argue if they were to make this collaboration more permanent.

Baby, you could start a cult, you see / Anywhere you go, I’ll be / You are so much more than beautiful to me, the pair sing in the chorus.

Having honed her skills at Berklee, McAlpine’s harmonies feel almost too clean to be human-made. She finds interesting ways to wrap her vocals around Horan’s for something both unexpected and deeply satisfying.

Like the first time around, the instrumentation in this song bypasses the ears and makes a B-line for the heart. While the gentle acoustic guitar leaves room for the pair’s vocals to shine, the occasional string elements spur on a sense of melodrama–another goal Horan seemed set out to achieve while making this record.

This release wasn’t expected, but it’s welcomed. The song was one of the least produced songs on The Show, which typically doesn’t equal a splashy release. We’re glad this stunning bout of songwriting from Horan has gotten even more time to shine with the help of McAlpine.

Photo by Kai Cranmore / U music

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