Tag Archives: love

Stepping into a song: “Le Premier Bonheur du Jour”

When you sing, you’re telling a story. Like any good actor, you need to believe the words as they come out of your mouth; to choose them. No matter who wrote them.

Watch Françoise Hardy switch from ‘young female guest’ on Sacha Distel‘s TV show to ‘woman in love’.  We believe her as she starts to sing. Why? Because she believes herself. You can see her refocus and prepare in the video. Watch her pupils get bigger, then smaller, around 14 seconds in, as she prepares to sing Frank Gérald‘s words:

Continue reading Stepping into a song: “Le Premier Bonheur du Jour”

Singing True Milk Chocolate Love

I love you” is one of those phrases we measure precisely, down to the smallest change in breath and intention. Speaking it, singing it and hearing it. Especially the first time, and the last few times.

At least one important person in your life will have said “I love you”, without meaning it. A deep, protective human instinct awakes in your heart and warns you: “Beware

If it wasn’t too recent and it isn’t too painful, think back. What alerted your heart to the lie? Did the word ‘love‘ sound too thin and hollow? Or was ‘love you’ overstuffed with emotion? What detail in the sound tipped you off to a falseness in the words? Continue reading Singing True Milk Chocolate Love

When White isn’t Right

When you sing about love, it helps to think about chocolate. From  the whitest of white to the darkest of dark, with added chilli.  From Michael Jackson’s upbeat love in A.B.C. to Bob Dylan’s weathered disappointment in Love Sick.  Same word, different flavours.

You’ve tasted white chocolate, I’m sure: light, sweet and easy. White chocolate love is the version you learn at school – full of innocent enthusiasm: I love Maths. He loves kittens. We love Zayn Malik. 

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If you grow up in an English speaking country, the word love grows up with you. There comes a time when you start using love for men and women, not just rabbits and Geography. The word love gets coloured by your experience of romantic human love, good and bad. You will be able to shade the word when you say or sing it, from white to dark, and anywhere in between. Your thoughts will shape your mouth.

It’s the idea of love that you’re holding in your mind as you shape your mouth that forms the word. It’s not necessarily a conscious decision, but your audience will read the intention behind the love you sing or speak. Each time you shape the word for them.

Has anyone ever told you “I love you” without putting their heart and soul into the words? It feels disappointingly hollow, doesn’t it?

A white chocolate, emotion-free “I love you” communicates flippant disinterest, in a romantic song. When you’re looking into another human’s eyes, you need to use a milk chocolate love, at least. In song and in relationships, it’s wise to get the love flavour right.

If you learn English as a foreign language, the word love may never have an opportunity to grow up. If love stays, filed away in a corner of your mind, in a single, childish, white chocolate version, your mind will shape your mouth the same way every time you come to sing the wordYour audience will feel the mismatch if the song calls for emotion, but you offer them disinterested enthusiasm and an “I love tennis” version of love. You’ll lose their trust.

Yes, there are white chocolate love songs – usually written by very young, very innocent men. They’re light and casual. They skip along. They’re the only place that your jolly, white chocolate love will ring true. But, even in a white chocolate love song like the Beatles’ Love Me Do, first written out in a school notebook, notice Paul McCartney deepening and darkening the flavour of the title line, from white to milk when he sings alone:

Continue reading When White isn’t Right

She Loves You, Yes, Yes, Yes

They completed “She Loves You” in McCartney’s house back in Liverpool. When his father heard the song, he said, “Son, there’s enough Americanisms around. Couldn’t you sing, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ just for once?” McCartney said, “You don’t understand, Dad. It wouldn’t work.”

                                                                                                     Rolling Stone Magazine

Why not?

© Sing Better English, 2015