Friday, 13 July 2012

My Musical Diary XXI

This has been a week of two birthdays and a few musical discoveries. Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys turned 58 on Tuesday and Marc Almond turned 55 on Monday. Unlike Neil, Marc celebrated his birthday with a show in Shepherd's Bush Empire and pretty much everyone loved it, including himself - he called it one of his 3 favourite gigs of his, EVER. Both birthday boys are featured in my top 5 musical diary this week (Marc twice, because he's Marc).

There were two new songs this week as well: after Marcus Collins, Misha B and Little Mix, another of last series's X Factor alumni decided to unveil a debut single: none other than Amelia Lily. And The Killers have released their brand new single Runaways to the radios, after a 3-year hiatus.

Quite a week.

Marc Almond - Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Yep, obviously it's originally a Soft Cell song but my favourite version is this one from 1991 which is Marc's solo effort. Definitely one of the best songs ever written. Curiously Marc didn't play it on his birthday concert. Oh well, with his discography it's easy to omit one great song or two.

Pet Shop Boys - Rent

Another of my favourite songs ever. Lyrically it's in a similar vein to Say Hello, even though the story in the song is a bit different. Also the music has a similar melancholy feel to it. Obviously Pet Shop Boys owe a lot to Soft Cell (which 80's pop duo doesn't), even though image-wise they went into a different direction, and as much as I love Marc as a songwriter, Neil Tennant is simply a lyrical genius.

But to be honest, while the lyrics to this song are great, Neil might have written better ones or ones that are more interesting. The real killer part of this song is the music (do they use some special chords that unlock my heart or something?!), and the atmosphere of the record. There's just enough theatricality in it (Liza Minnelli's cover is great but definitely more theatrical), enough emotion and enough tension. I know Neil has been called an emotionless singer but for me his voice works in the exact opposite way: I get more emotion from him than from a wailing diva or a desperate busker.

Happy Birthday Neil! x

The Killers - Runaways

I'm a Victim. I love this band. One of the few bands I listen to a lot that have more than two members... So I was REALLY excited about them finally releasing some new music together after quite a while...and I was quite unsure about Runaways after a few listens. That didn't make me a happy Victim at all. But I should have known better. I can't think of many of their songs that I liked on the first listen. With some it even took me years. With Runaways it took me 3 listens. two listens I kept going: oh, I dunno.....definitely not as bad as the new olympic Muse single but I don't love it. Third listen: Yes! I can feel the love now! I love this song, maaaaan!

Pretty much.

Well, it's not a radical departure for the band, it sounds like The Killers. And there's a story. Brandon Flowers is good at writing stories. He's a country singer trapped in the 80's in a Mormon body of an Anglophile who's in love with Bruce Springsteen.

My one big fear is The Killers will slowly become U2 and I won't notice. Don't think the moment's come yet though. Or has it.

Amelia Lily - You Bring Me Joy

Up until today I only kept hearing a weird chopped-up version of this song and was unsure about it. This proper finished version is...quite great, actually. Yes, it still has those three-note verses but it has an intro and a bridge and adlibs and everything. I will buy this. Xenomania definitely scored with this one. Hope it's a hit for Amelia, she has a commercial potential and this sound is a good direction for her (rather than trying to be a P!nk copy).

Marc Almond - Paint It, Black

Marc has covered many songs in his career. Made international hits of some of them. But I didn't know about the existence of this Rolling Stones cover up until this week. Did a quick search before writing this blog and found out it's from a 1998 Mike Batt production's album called Philharmania with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Marc was among the guest singers included.
Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of the Stones but ever since seeing The Devil's Advocate I've been a fan of this song. Thematically and musically it fits Marc like a glove...this cover makes so much sense, so why have I only heard about it now? (Actually, given my shitty memory I might have read about it years ago and because I had no way of finding a copy I forgot about it: definitely a possibility).

Happy Birthday Marc! x

If you've made it all the way to this sentence, thank you for reading. If you have any comments, questions or musical suggestions for me, feel free to comment!

Till next week....Peace, Love & Ringo.

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