Friday, June 29, 2012

(Some of the) weirdest pop music ever

I'm not talking Screamin' Jay Hawkins or Björk or Marilyn Manson, or anyone else who somehow makes a living out of seeming peculiar.  I'm talking weird.

Why weird?  Well, Fie Upon This Quiet Life has posted what I receive as a pretty strange pop recording: a reggae-inflected setting of a song from Twelfth Night.  Fie seems to disagree with me about this, but I think it's kind of bizarre.  Does Twelfth Night put you in mind of reggae?  Does anything that Shakespeare ever composed make you think, Dang, if only Toots and the Maytals had recorded this, as you spark up a fat one? 

Since Fie asked me for a full report, here is my quick (and merciless) take:
  • More often than not, reggae sounds silly when it is applied in production as an accent or flourish, rather than the dominant style.  This goes double when the singer is a middle-aged white person.
  • Reggae thrives on great grooves and jams, which means that it tends to be either fantastic or awful.  This recording somehow falls in the middle for me, but I have to say that it starts dragging ass around 1:30.
  • This guy's voice isn't that good.  Why couldn't they get a better singer?
  • I've never been an especial fan of either reggae or Twelfth Night, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
This recording also reminded me of a few others, most of them poorly conceived ideas, in my opinion.  Also a few bits of Shakespeare set to music.  Have at 'em, people!

Shakespeare's Sonnet 20, arranged by Rufus Wainwright.  Not so bad, I'd say, although I feel like Rufus is thrown a bit off his game by the text.

Steve Earle has made some excellent recordings.  This one is...entertaining, anyway.  Remember the first observation in my review above.

Everyone loves "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, even if they think that Jeff Buckley wrote it.  But not many people know the worst-ever arrangement, by some dude named Bono.  For the life of me, I cannot understand what he thought he was adding to our understanding of this song.  Don't quit your day job, fella.

This may be the crown jewel of WTF in my music collection.  I hope with all my might that someday I get to try the drugs that made this recording seem conceivable, much less desirable.  I can scarcely imagine how many people had to drink the kool-aid to bring this track to fruition.  I can't bring myself to delete it, because it feels like some sort of Zen Buddhist puzzle for me to riddle out: how can this track exist without triggering the end of the world?

Finally, a truly, frighteningly bizarre recording that, despite everything I think I know about the universe, actually hangs together.  I'm especially interested to hear what both Fie and Dr. Crazy have to say about this one; I suspect they'll both dig it, possibly for different reasons.  It's genuinely disturbing to me to recognize how much I like this arrangement.

1 comment:

  1. In fairness, I think the reason I like the Twelfth Night song is not because of the music so much but the arrangement of the lyrics, which I think is pretty good. A lot of people have tried to put Shakespeare into song, and it frequently comes off as awkward and/or strangely arranged. (Like Rufus Wainwright above.) Anyway - I thought that the lyrics were arranged well in the Twelfth Night piece. I do not like the voice of the man singing. The guy who sang in the actual play was a lot better.

    The Bono Hallelujah is AWFUL. What on the planet was that dude thinking? The Dolly Parton/Lady Blacksmith made me snort with laughter. I don't think it's something you need to figure out; it's something you need to laugh at. I rather liked Richard Thompson's "Oops". It made me think of a certain German friend who loves Brittany Spears for unknown reasons. Maybe he just thought she was hot. Anyway, it's always bizarrely funny to take something like this out of context. I dig it!

    I think my favorite piece from the soundtrack of Twelfth Night was a song called "Oh Mistress Mine" -- it's arrangement is quasi-folk/singer-songwriterish, and it works well for me. Of course, I'm probably more focused on the lyrics than the music because that's sort of how I roll with music. In fact, the reason why I got my masters in English was because I realized after I got my BA in music that I cared more about the lyrics than I did about the melodies. Oops. :)

    Anyway - thanks for the early morning laugh. Hubby and I both watched and were highly entertained. :)