Friday, 30 May 2014

Stop, Collaborate and Listen #5 - 1

by Brandy and Monica

Two divas fighting over a man: who will be victorious? Will it be Brandy? Or will it be Monica? Does anyone even care? Quite frankly I didn’t care about that in 1998 and still don’t. I just enjoy a good old fashioned cat fight. The only thing missing from the song is a whole stack of swearing, and some hair pulling in the film clip. Although, really, to me the idea of fighting over some dude does seem ludicrous. Thankfully it wasn’t a Brandy/Monica/Katie battle because I would’ve just said “no thanks, I’m out” and taken a nap.

While rumor has it that ole Brandy and Monica didn’t necessarily see eye to eye, apparently the inspiration for the song was, of all things, the Jerry Springer Show. If that’s the case I would’ve liked to have seen them beat each other with their shoes in the film clip, while people yell “fight!” and Steve the security guards pulls them apart.

‘The Boy is Mine’ had chart success, won a bunch of awards, and, for me, is one of the gems of the 90s. Try playing it around your friends and I’m sure you’ll be surprised at just how many people know the words. (Katie Langley)

by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

I won tickets to see the film 'Once' at it’s first showing in Melbourne. It was a small event considering the attention that the film and it’s music received after it’s release. I arrived late and hence had to sit in the front row. I got a little motion sick during the film. But motion sickness aside this movie and it’s music penetrated deep into my psyche and my heart and made me forget the nausea from sitting so close to a giant screen. I have been a bit of a secret piano player and song writer since I was a little kid. I guess in my private moments I mostly play folk. I have been lucky enough at times in my life to sing and play with few close friends. In these moments, my favourite combination has always been the simplicity of piano and guitar and voices in harmony. The moment in the film where Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard play this gorgeous song in the music shop had me almost immediately in tears. It’s those private moments when sound comes together that music hits the soul and sings straight from the heart. The gentleness yet emotive power of this song and the musical connection that these two artists obviously had during the recording of this song (and film) is one that artists strive to achieve when collaborating. I teared up again while watching the 80th Academy Awards as "Falling Slowly" took out the Oscar for best song. To know that a simple pairing of souls, using simple instruments and a lot of talent and heart could reach the world stage via a low budget feature film was reassuring and inspiring. Says Irglova about the song: “"This song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are..." These words sum up what our world needs most at the moment. Hope. (Lou Endicott)

by Gotye and Kimbra

When talking duets, naturally most minds wander far, far backward, to a decade where all the worlds’ superstars seemed to want to get together and sing. The 80s were an era where well established stars flaunted their respective fame with each other and made some incredible/terrible songs that people still love and love to hate today (for more information, read numbers 20 through to 6 of this here countdown. We've included a few). But one of the things that makes this particular song so interesting is that it did everything in reverse.

Gotye, a relatively unknown Australian artist to anyone outside of the JJJ audience and Kimbra, perhaps even less known at the time than her Melbournian duet partner. Together they created a song so catchy, so good, that they skyrocketed themselves into the land of superstardom for a minute or two there, and forever placed themselves amongst some pretty impressive names of artists who've dueted successfully. It topped the charts in over twenty countries and won a bunch of ARIA’s and two Grammys, but the quirky little fact I find most interesting is that it actually came third behind Kimbra’s own ‘Cameo Lover’ in the Vanda and Young Songwriting Competition in 2011.

Regardless of all that, it's a little mind blowing to think that it was three years ago I first heard those now incredibly famous little guitar notes that make up the start of what was to become one of my favourite songs of 2011, then one of my least favourite songs of the next year. The curse of the overplayed song struck hard with this one, for while it was incredibly enjoyed for a good eight months or so there, it was eventually played so much those first few notes made me cringe at the sound. A testament to what an incredible songwriter Gotye is though, now, with a little space, I again welcome those notes when I hear them, for they take me on a little journey of sound that takes me back to some fun times and ends in Kimbra’s delicious vocal and that's yet to be a bad thing. Also, on a side note, my fabulous fellow blogger Matt and I may have been known to kill this one at karaoke once or twice. You can take the term ‘kill’ anyway you like. But when our own first duet is released, you'll glad you heard about it here first. Just saying. (Jo Michelmore)

by Roy Orbison and KD Lang

How do you make one of the greatest songs of all-time even better? Turn it into a duet... obviously. But if it's an incredible song that features one of the most iconic voices to have ever graced our ears, you're going to need an equally impressive singer to join in if you're going to pull it off. And so in 1987, Roy Orbison (enjoying a resurgence in his career) entered into the studio with up and coming superstar K.D. Lang to record a new take on the much loved hit, 'Crying'. The results were fan-freaking-tastic.

Have you seen that video of the kid hearing A Great Big World's 'Say Something' and having an emotional reaction to music for the first time? You know the one... the dad's all like, "it's sad, isn't it buddy?" And the kids like, "Waahhhhhh!!!" The first time I heard this version of 'Crying' was pretty much the same for me. I was just luckier to not be born in an era where parents have easy access to recording technology. That kid's going to grow up to hate his dad, but that's neither here nor there. Anywho, back in the day I was watching the old TV box and there was a programme on with Orbison and K.D. Lang in a studio performing the track. The emotion packed into their voices was enough to leave me standing in awe, likely slack-jawed. Orbison could go from quiet to booming out high notes in a flash and the tone and power that Lang has? Forget about it... she's the best. It's very easy to tell if a duet's performers don't have chemisty, but with these two the chemistry was magnetic. They kept moving in closer and closer to each other as the track built to that knockout finish. I couldn't take my eyes off them and each time I listen to the song now, I think of the genuine connection Lang and Orbison were able to create on 'Crying', despite differences in age and sexuality. These were two voices that simply belonged together. I was sure the studio recording/documentary clip would have been on the YouTubes, but I can't seem to find it. Devo.

'Crying' would be the only song K.D. Lang recorded with Roy Orbison. Sadly, he passed away the following year at the age of 52. If things had turned out differently, it's hard not to believe the two would have delivered some stunning collaborations throughout the years. But what we got is more than enough. When it's this good, you can listen to it over and over again. I certainly have, for the better part of twenty years now. As duets go, this is one of the best of the best. (Matt Bond)

by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue

This would have to be one of the first duets that I actually remember having some kind of profound effect on me. I can remember listening to it often on JJJ when it was first released and being drawn to Nick Cave’s deep, sultry voice and the darkly delicate dance it created with Kylie’s breathy, ghostly tone. There’s something about those Cave’s vocal that is just so gentle and endearing regardless of what his lips are saying. It’s like you can place yourself in the body of Eliza Day while she’s being serenaded as her life ebbs away into the water around her. Urrrrgh, so chillingly divine.

I just really fell in love with the bittersweet imagery conjured by Cave’s remorseful and achingly gorgeous lyrics. The intensity of the mood is overwhelming and his love for the wild rose he plucked too soon is made more spectacular by the accompanying video. Kylie was probably the most unlikely partner at the time but her inner dramatic diva proved to be the most perfect choice for a torch song that burnt so bitingly hot and has smouldered for years to come. A modern classic for sure. (Nayt Housman) 

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