Friday, 9 May 2014

Stop, Collaborate and Listen, #20 - 16

It has been far too long since the It's My Kind of Scene team came together, let their powers combine and take you on another exciting musical journey. You know what this means right? It means we're doing another countdown! And while the title could have made you thinks we're looking at the best Vanilla Ice songs (aka the shortest countdown of all-time), we'll have to apologise to the four of you wanting that and instead direct you to this countdown which is comprised of our favourite duets. Now, to avoid total chaos and potentially triggering a choice meltdown from the contributors, we've limited these duets to two acts. So soz, 'Lady Marmalade' fans... Xtina, P!nk, Lil' Kim and the other one won't be showing up. At least not as a foursome. S'ok... welcome to the Top 20 Duets countdown. Get ready to stop, collaborate and listen and maybe you'll even get to stop, drop and roll. Because these songs are hot... or something. From Jo, Nayt, Katie, Matt and Lou... enjoy!

by Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox

Mid 80s, two vocal giants joined forces to create this girl power anthem. Pop songstress and Eurythmics front woman, Annie Lennox in tandem with queen of soul, Aretha Franklin. They sung with power and grace and much eighties grunt in the duet 'Sisters are Doing it For Themselves'. Although the song was penned by Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart under their band The Eurythmics, Aretha also released it on her own album.

I have to admit, the first time I heard this song it was on Australian TV show Young Talent Time. The cover version I first heard was sung by Dannii Minogue and her sister Kylie. I was immediately won over by the groove and the words (and probably entranced by the sparkles and the ridiculously larger than life hair dos the 80s – and Young Talent Time - were famous for). It wasn’t long after though that I heard the original, which was by far superior in delivery and soul. It was the birth for me of 80s power dance moves (which I still use today on the dance floor thank you very much). My own sister and I used to dance around the house singing this song and pretending we were big pop stars. Power moves aside, this song was also good signpost as an impressionable youngster to feel like as a female I had a future ahead of me that I was very capable of directing just as I please.

I have always been fascinated by Annie Lennox. Her white blonde hair, big voice and her somewhat androgynous appearance bowed to no preconceived feminine mould and instead put her into a class all of her own. Lennox had (and still does) the talent to make a pop song stick in your head. Add Aretha Franklin to this already tower house of power and poptastic music and you have one dynamite song. Being the original deliver of the 'Respect' message in the song of the same title, Aretha not only stood tall for racial equality but for us chicky babes too. (Lou Endicott)

by Melanie C and Bryan Adams

Well well well, the fact that this song was brought up numerous times by numerous and very different people when I mentioned in passing conversation that we were doing a duets countdown on this here blog did make me giggle. I mean, it’s by Bryan Adams and the Spice Girl no one ever mentions as their favourite (except probably me. Well, she was the one who could sing), but the fact that people (my friends) remember it also made me ponder. Why? What is it about this song that people remember as a great duet? 

We could get all philosophical and speak of the beginnings of a new romance, that bouncy feeling in your belly when you are not with that said person you like, the thoughts of none other than the one who has captured your imagination, the inability to function on a normal level because of all the freakin good hormones coursing through your veins (I don’t know where hormones actually go, I’m a blogger, not a doctor) and the fact that when one is obsessing about another it’s true; “even food don’t taste that good” or on the other hand we could speak of the upbeat tempo of said song, major v minor keys, blah blah blah, but you know what? It’s just a goddamn good pop song, sung by the Spice Girl with the best voice and an old man who I don’t love but who certainly knows how to write a hit song. Combine the two averages and you got yourself some magical pop music. (Jo Michelmore)

by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram

And the childhood memories just come flooding back. Le sigh. Anyone that's seen the 80s animated classic, An American Tail will have a lot of love for 'Somewhere Out There'. In the movie, two Russian-Jewish mice siblings sing this song about a loved one being oh so far away to each other. They're far away from each other because Fievel got lost or something Finding Nemo-ish. It's not as weird as it sounds... not even a little, not even a lot. Now, back in the day, before the wonders of the internet made it easy for us all to plunder movies and music like the thieving cyber pirates we are, songs were used to promote moofies. Bring in a couple of 'hot' music stars, slap together a dodge music video with cuts to scenes from the film you're promoting, corporate synergy blah blah blah... you've gone to see the movie. How many people saw Titanic because of Celine Dion? More than you'd think... because Celine Dion is amazing. Anyway, Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram were tasked with taking over vocal duties from Fievel Mousekewitz and his older sister Tanya, to create a poptacular vocal duet that will be loved until the end of time. And get people's butts into movie theatres.

'Somewhere Out There' has a special place in the hearts of many 80s and 90s kids, but it won't just go down in history for its association to An American Tail. Get this... it won Song of the Year at The Grammys in 1988. Amazing! In your face, Suzanne Vega's 'Luka' and U2's 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For'! Of course, it helps that Ronstadt and Ingram's voices fit together so smoothly. Like, this is some sappy/wanky material  right here, but these two sing the shit out of it, so you can't hate on it. How could you hate on it? The Grammy voters couldn't. So how can you? Don't answer that. And just in case you forgot this was an 80s number, you just wait for that guitar solo to kick in. It's ridiculous and brilliant and you'll be left wondering why there isn't a saxophone solo to really sell that this is the 80s! The person I've grown into might hear a track like this today and say something along the lines of, "what a total wank-fest," but when it comes to tracks like this from my childhood, I can't help but love them. This is one duet I'll always love and seriously... everytime there's a full moon and I look up at it, the tune is like BAM! right in my head. Anyone else? (Matt Bond)

by Ali Barter and Steven Clifford

I had two trains of thought when it came to deciding on my favourite duets. One involved some of the silliest songs and combinations of artists, you know the types, which songs always made me sing along manically and made me laugh because they were so absurdly duet-ey. The other thought process was a little less silly and a little more ‘sigh’. While some combinations of artists bring about the most fun music can offer, some combinations of incredibly talented artists bring about the most emotional and heart wrenching sounds music can offer. This brings me to one of my favourite covers and also one of my favourite duets, ever.

Ali Barter is a Melbourne based singer/songwriter who is quite a talent all on her own, with an incredible ability to convey all sort of thoughts with her delicate voice. Steven Clifford is one part of one of my favourite Australian bands, The Hello Morning, with a voice that transcends time creates the most intense goosebumps with his husky tones. Last year they came together and recorded ‘Jackson’; an up-tempo song originally by June and Johnny Cash. What Ali and Steven managed to do was turn what was once a kind of cute little tale into the most touching, tear-jerking heartbreaker I’ve heard in a long, long time. When Ali almost coldly takes Johnny’s line “all them women gonna make me, teach them what they don’t know how” and Steven replies later with the husky “goodbye was all she wrote”; that’s when it hits hard, that’s when describing music in simple words becomes almost impossible. It creates the same spine-tingling-stop-everything feeling now as it did when I first heard it and when I wrote about this song for the first time last year, I said something that deserves repeating, because in my world, there’s not a better way to describe it and, well, it’s true; “this is what beautiful, honest music sounds like.” (Jo Michelmore)

by Ray Charles and Betty Carter

During my teenage years an elderly gentlemen who lived across the street from me gave me a cassette with a jazz program he had taped off the radio. I popped it into my pink ghetto blaster (that’s what we used to call iPods), and was immediately entranced by this bygone era. The smoothness and sentimentality of jazz hit me right in the heart. The tape had a scratchy version of Ray Charles and Betty Carter singing this duet, 'Baby It’s Cold Outside'. Apart from being entranced by the smooth voice of Ray Charles and Betty Carter’s whispery girly tone, I was also entertained by the theatrical dialogue in the song. I enjoyed the song so much that by the time I had replaced my pink ghetto blaster with a sleek black five CD stacker stereo (yes the 90s) I had another copy of the song - this time digitally remastered on disc.

The song itself is quite hilarious in a modern day take. A man and woman share an evening together at his house. The girl decides it’s time to go because who knows what “the neighbours might think” and her “mother will start to worry” and of course “there’s bound to be talk tomorrow…” It paints a picture of an era where the politics of sex and romance were strictly governed by keeping up appearances and following a well worn path of chastity (particularly for women). The song is a gentle call and response with the girl giving reasons to go and the boy giving all kinds of suggestive body warming techniques because “it’s cold outside.” Perhaps the creepiest/funniest part of the song (in a modern day take) is the lyric Betty sings. “Say, what’s in this drink?” For its kitsch factor (and lovely delivery of instrumentation and vocals) 'Baby It’s Cold Outside' is still a staple in my jazz playlist. (Lou Endicott)

And that's it for this week... We'll be back with five more fantastic duets each Friday in May. Stay tuned! 

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