Tag Archives: sing in English

Pouring your life into another man’s words

A civilian imagines his way into the thoughts of a teenage soldier in World War 1. Imagines so well that veterans choose his words to tell their own story:

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The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

How do you sing the words “The first time ever I saw your face/I thought the sun rose in your eyes” when you know that the face in question is your own? You can’t concentrate on the beauty of your own face, without sounding horribly vain. Peggy Seeger chose to sing the words lightly, to take the words away from her face. From the personal to the universal. Peggy sings love into the song as an essence, simple and natural as air:

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Rinse and Repeat: Kah-Lo

House music asks a lot of a singer. Each word is a beat with feeling, a flavoured note of music. In English, it’s not usual to expect individual syllables to carry such Japanese haiku levels of vivid economy. The challenge, for a House/Deep House vocalist, is to flesh out the bones without disrupting the beat. It’s a precision art.

How do you avoid sounding like a woodpecker, when lyrics are mainly one-syllable sounds, closely backed by drum machine beats?

Preparation. Before you watch Kah-Lo infuse the tiny word ‘now’ with ultra-cool in Riton‘s Rinse and Repeat, try saying the English phrase “But it’s how I look now” out loud. Which words did you emphasise? I’d guess you emphasised now. Not but and not look. But it’s how I look now isn’t natural English. Or is it? Kah-Lo makes it so:

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Standing Next to Me

Alex Turner forces you to guess. The first words of Standing Next to Me are too quick to hear clearly.  You guess: “Want to have her” or “Want her, have her“?  Either is possible, though the first is crass, the second wistful. Your age, gender and personality feed into your decision. If you find The Last Shadow Puppets cute, you give them the benefit of the doubt. You guess Want her, have her:

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