By Hoshino Sakura
Happy World Vocal Harmony Day!
Hello readers, listeners, and Song Bar visitors. Today we celebrate harmony. We are having a festival to celebrate!
The supermarket next door has lent us the car park. We have put up a stage and of course a bar. My drink of the week – Suntory All Free beer, is on special offer, so be quick and get yours in. I personally supervised the hygiene preparation in the convenience’s so they match even my high standards!
We have over a thousand participating musicians who have travelled from all around the world to be with us. They have come by train, plane, automobile and time machine to be with us today.
Lets have a look at the programme:
First up we have the Chordettes with Mr Sandman. This is one of the most amazing vocal harmony tracks I’ve heard. Their voices actually sound like bells at certain points in the this song and the sense of (almost) naughty fun just makes me break out into a smile.
Now here come The Byrds. They jumped on board the time machine as it was passing through the 1960s. How does it make you feel? I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better. But also the vocals seem to create a feeling of resignation which blends perfectly with the arrangement to give a feeling of remembering an opportunity lost. Staying in the 1960s The Beach Boys now step on stage to perform the masterpiece Heroes and Villains. The track was originally conceived as a three-minute musical comedy and there is definitely something theatrical about the track. It makes feel like a kid at an old-fashioned funfair.
It looks like the plane from Jamaica was on time, and here come The Gladiators with Look Is Deceiving. The harmonies in reggae are often overlooked but on this track they seem to swing in and out of the song casually but perfectly synchronised. The harmonies and backing vocals of the The Uniques’ wonderful The Facts of Life are much more prominent and for me that makes a contrast to slightly melancholic Look is Deceiving. One cannot help feeling optimistic with music that has such a cheerful harmony!
The Platters are one of the most successful bands of the 1950s and 1960s. And their smooth sophisticated harmonies are like hot chocolate – smooth, comforting and somehow sexy. For me Smoke Gets In Your Eyes feels like a slow dance with a long-term lover who knows you very well.
Raising the tempo we have En Vogue with Hold On. This is fantastic dance number that should get the audience really moving. These types of tracks just make you want to join in the chorus and sing and dance.
After the sensuality of the last tracks, Sweet Honey In The Rock are appealing to different set of emotions with In The Morning When I Rise. The joy of faith is so strong you can almost touch it with this song.
The Song Bar clients can only take so much religion before they need some fast food and beer. So next up we have all the way from Senegal Amadou & Mariam (with Manu Chao) who are serving up Sénégal Fast Food. Dig in folks!
From Haiti we have Grupo Vocal Desandann. Guede Nibo is the voodoo god of death. I do not know the translation of the lyrics. The harmonies seem to create tension in me. I can definitely feel a sense of unease listening to this song. The Mediaeval Baebes are also dancing with death in the track Veni Veni Bella. But this I find this track is very calming when I listen to it. The medieval harmonies always seem to sooth me.
The finale on the main stage is Gloria from Missa Et Ecce Terra Motus by Antoine Brumel performed by The Early Music Consort of London. This is Earthquake Mass and, as a Japanese person, of course this will be dear to my heart. It is complex and tense at places as the voices mix and raise and fall creating beautiful harmonies. Somehow it feels unresolved, like the aftermath of every serious earthquake. However much we try to find one there is never an answer to the question why.
Ah-Ah-Ah! A-list Playlist:
The Chordettes – Mr Sandman
The Byrds – I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better
The Beach Boys – Heroes and Villains
The Gladiators – Look is Deceiving
The Uniques – Facts of Life
The Platters – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
En Vogue – Hold On
Sweet Honey in the Rock – In The Morning When I Rise
Amadou & Mariam (with Manu Chao) – Sénégal Fast Food
Grupo Vocal Desandan – Guede Nibo
Mediaeval Baebes – Veni Veni Bella
The Early Music Consort of London – Gloria from Missa Et Ecce Terra Motus by Antoine Brumel
Ba-ba-ba! B-list Playlist:
The Everly Brothers – All I Have To Do Is Dream
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows
Wilson Phillips – Hold On
Maddy Prior and the Girls – I Need You To Turn To
Oysterband – Bright Morning Star
Little Big Town – Vapor
The Impressions – Amen
Southern California Community Choir – Give Me A Clean Heart
Scala & Kolacny Brothers – With or Without You
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Duppy Conqueror
The Four Seasons – Rag Doll
Olavi Virta and the Harmony Sisters – Sinitaivas
Decameron – Rock And Roll Woman
Spirit – Give A Life Take a Life
Guru's Wildcard Pick:
Goosehouse – Koi Suru Fortune Cookie
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Sweet intervals: songs with close harmony singing. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.