I’ve been working on a mixtape for a friend, and the process has delivered to me the realization that I’m kind of obsessed with British bands from the ’80s and ’90s that feature male vocalists with a higher end vocal range. I love how the vocals often sound so earnest and emotional. Some bands that I can’t stop listening to: The Psychedelic Furs, Nik Kershaw, Visage, Ultravox (not british), Manic Street Preachers, David Bowie, Talk Talk, Human League, Echo and the Bunnymen, Pulp, Tears for Fears. For contemporary bands that could fit the bill, I’ve been listening to Maximo Park. I like how the singer occasionally sounds like Brian Ferry.
I really have to restrain myself from making the mix sound like the soundtrack for Rad 2 (as in, a made-up sequel to that bmx movie from the ’80s).
Obsession #2: This one’s a bit more disturbing. I’m obsessed with this little google video of Tony singing Naked Eyes’ Always Something There to Remind Me. (You can add Naked Eyes to the list above.) I was trying to relate Tony’s importance to a friend, and he didn’t give a crap. So I’ll now do so in a forum where I won’t be subject to any immediate response.
From the description we know that he made this video as part of the process of his singing practice. Or, more accurately, his “songing practice.” He tapes himself and then reviews the tape. That’s normal. One doesn’t just have a good voice — voices need to be trained, and he’s being active and doing just that.
But I imagine that he’s practicing singing, and especially this song, in order to eventually perform some serious crooning. If he only wanted to work on his voice, then I bet he could choose a song with which he’s more familiar.) He wants to serenade a woman and then win her heart. This is where I impose tragedy (in the loosest sense of the word) into the situation. At it’s current state, the chances are that he’s not going to win any hearts with his rendition. And I’d venture to say that even with lots of practice he’s still going to sound pretty dismal. Even though there’s a good chance that I already love this guy, he’s a bad singer, and he’s only going to embarrass himself if he brings this number to the woman of his dreams.
Now, those assumptions are the more optimistic ones — I think there’s a far better chance that he’s not practicing for any imminent croon. The object of love is not just around the corner waiting and somewhat willing to hear his message. On the contrary, he’s practicing this song in the off chance that he’s ever in a situation where he might need to bust into a song in order to get him out of/in to a situation. Kind of like when Maverick busts into You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling when he see a beautiful woman in a bar. But I imagine that Tony’s vaguely thought out plan will never come to fruition. It’s sad to think that there might not be anyone particular in mind as the recipient. His earnestness will only get him so far.
He most likey picked this song because it’s one of his favorites. It has a good beat that many people recognize and like to dance to. But still, he doesn’t know most of the lyrics (granted, I’m doubting English is his first language, and so he’s not as adept at gathering the words without a lyric sheet). He only knows the chorus, and even that he gets wrong. But the chorus is the title of the song, so how is he getting that wrong? Perhaps his copy of the song is from an unlabeled mix tape (or maybe labeled as “Dance Hits!” given to him by his cousin) and he just, like me, feels the power of those higher range British vocals. It has him hooked, and through the song he feels a connection with other people who enjoy the song. And he imagines they’d all get along because of their mutual affection for it — if only he had concrete confirmation that these people exist. Perhaps he’ll be at a liquor store getting some chips and a six pack of soda, and the song will come on the stereo. He’ll bob his head like he does in the video, and when the chorus arrives he’ll quietly sing it. This will attract the attention of a young couple who only last weekend danced hard to this song at a popular nightclub. And then they’ll all, just like in Reality Bites, join together and rock out in the liquor store. It will be great. And afterwards the couple will invite him out, and they’ll introduce him to a single and attractive friend of theirs.
I don’t mean to belittle Tony by coming to such conclusions. It’s just what I imagine might be going on here. And I’m truly entranced by this guy — and not in a “he’s great to make fun of” kind of way. If this is too mean, just tell me. It’s presumptious, of course, but it’s just my interpretation (and only part of it).
I spent many hours while riding around the country on my motorcycle singing songs to myself. I tried my best to sound like Echo or Bowie or the Furs — I didn’t have much to do when I couldn’t listen to music or hear anything except my own voice. And so I’d practice my singing voice. I tried many different styles of singing, and the one that came most natural to me was the Bowie-ish voice. But I’m sure I sounded awful. Anyway, this video has paralyzed me.