Thursday, December 06, 2007

Yes I do know

Holiday season officially started for me this morning --

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" came on the radio without me wondering about it or waiting for it. Just got on the highway, one song in, heater finally kicking on, really starting to wake up, and bang! My Jam.

Every year I look forward to having that surprise me in the car. Some people need to see "It's A Wonderful Life" to really kickstart it. DTKIC is my trigger.

And admittedly, being an 80s kid, this song just hits it. It's a such a perfect snapshot of what 1985 was musically in pop music. Yeah yeah, all the top pop artists of that time were singing, but I'm talking more than the all-star cast. It's more an all-star musical cast too;

The stark wide landscape intro, setting a nice dramatic open feel. (very Dream Academy)
The slow burn build of the vocal melody
The insta-enjoyable chorus hook
The galloping bass guitar line ( I dare say started by my pals Level 42)
Phil Collins propulsive drumming/drum sound (*and don't forget his ever classic PC over-the-bar line drum fill during the organ solo after the bridge)

And next time you listen, think about how perfectly chosen the voices were, and that for each voice, the *way* they sang they're part was a perfect historical snapshot of what that singer's trademark was. From the actual lyric line they sang to how they sang it. You could teach your grandkids about these people;

"See Timmy, this "guy" Boy George, the way he sings this line... all his songs, he was just that smooth. He was the male Sade. And when he adds that soulful "OOOOOO, HOO..." to tag the pre-chorus hook, he was really good at that.
"And Bono, who sings probably the most famous line of it all, well, at that time he was the ultimate passionate political singer. He was known for delivering cynical comments about humanity's ignorance or denial of human suffering in his own music. The words themselves sound cruel, but when Bono sang, you could hear his own distaste thru his sarcasm. He literally was raising a flag about everything in U2 concerts. this video from Red Rocks. Ohp, there it is, see the big flag he's marching around with?"

"And this Sting guy, though he doesn't have his own solo line, at that time everyone was using him to add a vocal harmony over top of other people's singing which gave it an otherworldly effect, at once soulful but angelic too. It was very distinctive. and at that time in the 80s, you heard more of Sting hovering over things than singing them at you."

I obviously could go on and on.

But anyway, if you were there in the 80s, think about this song as a musical history lesson. Simon le Bon's voice is spot-on.

And for bonus points, quiz yourself with "who was the only American artist(s)/band that was invited to be part of this song project. If you don't know, you'll be surprised. I'd give you a clue, but it's not cause for celebration yet. Because if it was, you'd have seen the clue already in this post.

Merry Holidays.
(Yes, I'm starting my own saying, Frank Costanza-style)