Saturday, April 5, 2014

Electronic Music Sung by Women

Recently, I came across two songs, both sung by women, that are particular interest. One is a song I'd heard of by name but not by ear, and I knew its name because I knew the artist, Laura Branigan (first when I tried out her interpretation of the music of 'Der Kommissar' by Austrian artist Falco). The other song was something of a chance encounter on YouTube - I saw the video thumbnail in the related videos, and the name, and decided to try it out, which is very rare for me to do.

'Self-Control' is something I heard on the radio while driving. I didn't know what it was at first and thought it sounded eerie and electronic and quiet, until I noticed a nice, familiar procession in the music. By familiar, I do not mean that I'd heard the song before and found its hook familiar, I mean that the hook itself is used often in other pop songs and is pleasing to the ear accordingly, so therefore it was familiar. But even though I'd never heard it before, I was quick to deduce somehow quickly that it was Self-Control by Laura Branigan, even though I'd only known the song existed thanks to its music video often popping up in related video thumbnails on YouTube.

It works by...ah, leave it out. You know what? I'm going to try something and avoid taking the song apart and just leave it at that. Use of of my own 'self-control.' It's a familiar procession, which means that it sounds like something you might have heard before in other songs, probably 'Hotel California' (for certain verses of this song anyway, and only by similarity, not exactly). I haven't bothered to work it out on the piano or the bass, so I don't know what musical notes or chords are played. For the sake of simplicity, I'll just say that the music sounds slightly above average in pitch...and then goes down to a different pitch that explains everything I've just over-written, during verses.

It's got a bit of a dark rock-feel to it in the beginning, but you know the entire thing is mostly synthed and pop. Particularly the sound of the 'drums' and the, well, synths.

It's generally likable to me, even with the masculine voices during the bam! part. You know, that...just listen to it. Where the music stops and there's these chorus male voices coinciding with sudden crashes.

On Wikipedia it says that it was one song out of several that were Italian that she adapted for her own English lyrics. This one was different in that she used the English lyrics from a different version on this, so she's re-adapted this Italian-written and performed song into her own with English lyrics from the English version of the song by someone else. Considering how she seems to pick other songs from elsewhere and either write her own English lyrics (or discover someone else has already done it, and go on to copy them) you might think she's an artist only for her voice and not for her music or writing or, well, frankly, creativity. But everyone has their niche, and if it's the sound of your voice, more power to you. Interestingly, while American, Branigan's version of this song did very well in Europe and Switzerland and is one of her most-recognized hits.

I'm not sure if I've heard it before now, but I kind of like it. Mostly for its musical procession, but you know me.

Music: B+
Lyrics: F (She didn't write her own, she copied them from someone else who interpreted and performed them in English first; but I'll give her a B for the sound of her voice and a B+ to the bloke who actually wrote them).

The second song comes from Germany (but it's in English). The title got me when I saw it in the related videos while listening to the Self-Control video (and if you open the embedded video above in YouTube it'll probably still be there). It's called 'Maria Magdalena' by an artist called Sandra.

The name stuck out at me because it was something that seemed familiar - "Maria Magdalena." I've heard the name somewhere. My interest was piqued.

When I heard the unusual introduction, I recognized it but if I heard it before, I have no idea where; the chorus also sounded vaguely familiar too, from a long time ago at least. All I know is that I love her voice and the lyrics. The music, while not necessarily original-sounding, is still refreshing. Anyway, it's virtually impossible to hear something original from any recent time, including the 1980s, and I prefer familiar sounds or processions anyway.

The lyrics, which are sung by both Sandra and the bass player (whose voice isn't bad either) appear to refer to a situation wherein the subject of those words is making attributes to the singer that aren't hers, which I find in some way familiar. The chorus particularly shows this with the two of them singing. I didn't go in-depth with describing the Self-Control lyrics because I listen more to the music of that song, but they ring with me in this one, which is a great sign.

There's some familiarity to the predicament I'm reading. You ever find yourself in a relationship where you're friends with a girl or boy who looks exactly like someone else you've been attracted to for a long time - but could never be with? Yeah yeah - I know those who come here often know where I'm going here. But in this case the singer knows this and is being upfront about it. "I'll never be Maria Magdalena." Meanwhile the bassist is going on with descriptions - "You're a creature of the night," etc. - and then saying things like "You need love."

For me it takes me back to last September-October, where I was friends with a lookalike of all those Slavic girls (which made sense as she herself is Slavic); at the time she was quite upfront about her care for my own personal issues and negativity, though at the same time she couldn't be the lookalike and couldn't "share my life" as lyrics go due to our polar opposite ideas and aspirations (and the fact she had a boyfriend). That's where the song really speaks to me: I'm a creature of the night - I'm negative, dark. Then my old friend says something very sympathetic or caring as was her nature - "You need love" as it goes in the song - but at the same time, she'll never be "Maria Magdalena." Of course there's a different name in my case, but yeah.

If Laura Branigan's voice was nice in her song, Sandra's voice is awesome in hers. It's smooth and bright and very easy to listen to. Kind of sweet. The music, while also electronic, is easy and nice.

All the electronic and 80s stuff are in there as usual, including those drum pad things. I guess with me it's just a consistent admiration or fondness or enjoyment of it all. And it's some rare, great stuff from Germany (all I've ever heard from them is the 'moterick beat' term for rhythm or drumming - I haven't tried something like Kraftwerk yet).

Music: B+
Lyrics: A [A+ for her voice].

On an ending note, I'm not nearly as negative or of the night as I was months ago, or even weeks ago. I think I'm just heading past the morning dawn.

Justin C.

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