Sunday, 15 July 2012

Beautiful Voices

So far this summer, it's been all about beautiful voices. Beautiful for different reasons, but beautiful all the same. I happened across the tunes I am about to recommend for different reasons - the first at several clubs, the second during an iconic romcom I am too ashamed to name, not being a romcom girl, and the third by random chance in the HMV sale.

Arctic Monkeys

There's something compellingly naughty about Arctic Monkeys, even when they're not talking about little books of sex tips - something disobedient and free, even when they're being musically tame. It's got something to do with Alex Turner's voice. The richness of it against the unrelentingly Northern dialect is appealing - he can play with how much of his accent goes into his vocal line, and unlike most indie artists of the same sort, he has the technical skill to mess with the melody. 'R U Mine', Arctic Monkeys' most recent single, is a return to form for the lads. At clubs, it stands out as miles ahead of most other new tracks in that it balances simplicity with perfect production and well-judged instrumentation; it has the raw energy of their first album, but they've grown into a wilder beast since then. The video is laddish but entertaining - they're still arrogant teenagers at heart, and I suppose that's how people love them.

Marvin Gaye

He's quite a jump from Alex Turner, but variety is the spice of life - Marvin Gaye has also been making many an appearance on my iPod playlists recently. Alright, I'll tell you, it was Bridget Jones - the placement of 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' in that film is epic, in spite of the... y'know, the rest of that film. Gaye's voice alongside that of Tammy Terrell is perfect; it's a real summer song, empowering and perfected by their lovely, smooth vocals. The video for this always cheers me up - they look so content, so relaxed. Voices like these don't need fancy footage to rack up 21,000,000 views.

On the widget below, I've also added 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine' - the Slits cover is brilliant in its own way, but this surpasses it - and 'Sunny', a song my mum used to listen to when I was a child. I heard it again at a cinema, in the pre-show music, and it was so eerily familiar that I had to look it up. Turns out it's a great upbeat song.

Joan Armatrading

The last of my artists is Joan Armatrading - the wonderful 20th century star whose CD I happened upon by chance in HMV the other day. I knew of her so I thought I'd give it a try, and I struck gold. She has moments of brilliance, dipping in and out of genres. The first on the widget below is 'Opportunity', my current favourite, a bluesy number about underhanded dealing. A lot faster and funkier is 'Show Some Emotion', with which Armatrading had a hit a few decades ago. 'Like Fire' showcases some of her raw talent on the guitar - she plays with rhythmic techniques and still manages to sing over the top. As a struggling beginner, I have respect for anyone that can do that. Finally, I've put one of her slower numbers on, 'Tall in the Saddle', mostly for its first lines, and how insanely gorgeous they are against their syrupy backdrop. It breaks down a bit when she starts singing "We had fun fun fun fun", I always think the word 'fun' makes things more S Club than jazz club, but hey, she didn't know about the 90s when she wrote that line.

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