On Repeat: “I Have Nothing” Whitney Houston

https://verzweigung.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/5de77-whitney-houston-i-have-nothing-lyrics.jpg?w=410&h=215This song is HARD. I don’t mean a fun challenge. I mean it is a belter masterpiece. I have been intensely studying it for about 3 or 4 months and I have ONCE hit the belted high notes. For you non-singy people this is a different ball game from just singing “high” notes at a normal level. For example go try to sing the hook for “Only Girl (In the World)” by Rihanna at full force…kinda hard, huh? This is higher…

When I was pre-gaming for this post I wanted to rewatch this segment of The Bodyguard (the movie this song came from, in case you weren’t alive or live under a rock) and I noticed that the lip-sync performance in the movie does not imitate belting at all, which is utterly bizarre to watch. This prompted me to go watch some live performances on the YouTube to see just how much power she was actually using to sing this song. The answer is a fucking lot.

Which almost satiated my curiosity, and frankly my need for validation that this song is fucking hard…but. Video after video…after video…after video. Even the incredibly talented goddess of melisma HERSELF does not attempt to sing it as recorded for the studio album. In every live performance I’ve watched so far, they drop the key. This results in the song not sounding that much different, and to the average pop listener maybe not noticeable at all, but makes it much easier on the vocal chords because she doesn’t have to leap up to that incredible note on “close” of “don’t make me close one more door” while still leaping to a slightly more manageable note and sounding incredible (because she is). It’s a musical illusion that saves voices and embarrassment. (And by the way Rihanna does the same thing in her live performances of “Only Girl.”)

I bring this up not to disparage the approach, but rather to reinforce that these studio vocal gymnastics are HARD. We have no idea how many times it took these professionals to reach up there and make it happen for the record, so it’s kind of foolish to say “oh I’m no (insert Diva here)” –you might be!! Even they don’t hit those spectacular notes on most days, or reliably enough to bet on it in a live setting.

This is why “I Have Nothing” is such a demanding song that I obsess over. The crown jewel of The Bodyguard, her cover of “I Will Always Love You,” is beautiful and challenging in its own way; but “I Have Nothing” is the more stunning of the two. The gentle piano harmonies, the punching horns, all just caress the roller coaster of emotions. But to be honest, the musical accompaniment could be a dump truck pouring trash and I wouldn’t give a fuck–that voice is all I hear.

If you’ve never had the privilege, check out some of these live performances–she is brilliant.

5/5

Black Girl Magic: We go to 11.

On Repeat: “I Have Nothing” Whitney Houston

New to the Library: Add Violence EP-Nine Inch Nails

http://assets.teamrock.com/image/8c7153e1-0971-40db-aab8-9c4757a6dc4a?w=800Wow, just wow.

When I got the Not The Actual Events EP, I was happy to have more Nine Inch Nails in my life–especially since it didn’t turn out God awful. But this newer EP, Add Violence, is far superior.

Although I’m still a little confused about the decision to put out two 5-6 song EPs weeks apart rather than just one whole album. *shrug* This EP has so much more soul. So, perhaps the decision to keep them separate was to keep the integrity of these tracks intact…I will say that I don’t think anything conceptually new is happening here, though. It’s more like, wouldn’t it have been nice if The Fragile‘s two discs were Left-Trash Rock, Right-Art Rock? That’s the distinction I see here.

“Less Than” has that juicy bright synth loop that is very reminiscent of Pretty Hate Machine‘s peppier tunes. I’m getting a little tired of the ascending scale melody theme in Reznor’s songwriting, but it is catchy…so I guess that’s a little bit of a toss up. Fortunately, this is it’s only cameo in this EP. *whew* The instrument build up in this song is very well crafted and gives you that “so pumped” feeling ala “We’re in This Together.”

“The Lovers” is another toss up for me. Again, he is implementing a lot of his hey-day tropes–in this instance the whispered spoken word. I appreciate the style in it’s “original” form of “I Do Not Want This,” but here it just feels like the middle aged, high school football hero regaling us of the glory days. I love the sung melody, though; and I do feel the spoken word works as a sort of stylistic counterpoint. So that being said, I’m not sure the song could do without the spoken word even though it grates me. Also, this track is a reminder that Trent Reznor has beautiful song writing capabilities. I would love to hear instrumentals of all these tracks, because they really could stand on their own. It’s really no wonder he has been working on so much soundtracking recently.https://i1.wp.com/cdn3-www.musicfeeds.com.au/assets/uploads/nine-inch-nails-2017-source-facebook-671x377.jpg

“This Isn’t the Place” is so bluesy. Love, love, love. The perfect break up mash: Feist’s “The Limit to Your Love” as drunky, emotional catharsis and then this moody bitch is when you just sit and stew about the bullshit. This is really only underlined by the breathy falsetto vocals that start halfway through. Saudade as fuck; “I thought we had more time.”

“Not Anymore” is raw AF. Reznor doesn’t always do dramatic pauses, but when he does they are perfectly placed. I also love how so many thematic sounds from the last handful of albums get blended into one cohesive monster here. There are so many sonic rabbit holes to explore here. And just when you think you’ve settled into it. Boom!

In pops “The Background World.” I’m not sure the extended noise section was reaaally necessary, or that it necessitated the “album only” buy (such a gimmick btw…I mean unless you’re Bjork’s “Black Lake,” just sit down and let people buy what they want lol). It could have easily ended around the 6-7 minute mark without damaging the whole. What I do love about this track is how both the lyrics and the instrumental pieces metaphorically reflect the consequences-unraveling phase of an event. This is a very hard interpretation to get right, and it seems only fitting that Reznor would be the master of that realm.

Overall this EP is wonderfully solid. Skip your Strawbricks and add this latest NIN installation to your collection. It is definitely worth it.

4/5

New to the Library: Add Violence EP-Nine Inch Nails

On Repeat: “Branches / Bones” Nine Inch Nails

https://consequenceofsound.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/not-actual-events-ep-stream-nine-inch-nails-new-nin-reznor-listen.png?w=362&h=226This On Repeat is brought to you by reviewing the Not the Actual Events EP. I feel like this is important to bring up because it isn’t my favorite track on this new release, but has wormed its way into the spotlight. So be it.

That being said, “Branches / Bones” is catchy as hell. The high rising terminals in the chorus are as addictive as the claps in “Hey Mickey.” This is not super surprising given Trent Reznor’s clear penchant for pop tunes.

Every. thing. in this track is dripping in effects, which gives the illusion that it’s some sort of grimy masterpiece; when in reality, it’s pretty basic Reznor writing. And overall, this kind of “rah rah” rock song seems to be his make-a-hit go to. Maybe he has been kickin’ it with Dave “Hit Master” Grohl too long (lalala). I’m also growing less and less in love with the Apple Music synth sounds that a lot of his percussive tracks seemed to be infused with. Since I assume he has access to way better shit than GarageBand, I’m going to hope that this isn’t actually what he’s using to compose…but boy, oh boy, do I wonder sometimes. And more importantly, of all the things to leave clean?? *shrugs*

But this brings me right back around, as always, to the point that must always be made when ripping apart a shitty NIN track. On Trent Reznor’s cruddiest, most uninspired day–he is a thousand times better at this shit than most. So when I’m drunk and feeling belligerent, this song will be there to cradle my angst. Just like it should.

3/5

 

On Repeat: “Branches / Bones” Nine Inch Nails

New to the Library: “Swalla” Jason Derulo ft. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign

 

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This video has juicy production. The backup choreography is really rockin. The rest is just candy and sex. But it’s cute.

I really enjoy this songs dancehall-lite beats. And of course it’s catchy as hell; but the flip side is that it is another ignorable/forgettable club banger. I will absolutely shake my ass to this song every time, but it feels…empty.

The “drank”s are like the rainbows and sunshine opposite of the “drank”s in “Swimming Pools (Drank)” by Kendrick Lamar. Jason Derulo’s falsetto is not beautiful. Which, if we’re being honest, doesn’t have to be if he keeps that top off. X D But, I just want my falsetto dreams to be of higher caliber. I actually think that Ty Dolla $ign might have been the star of this one–kinda sad considering Nicki’s once GIANT presence in whatever she did. Her voice still has that quality that pounds through, so my ears perk when her verse starts; but her lyrics have lost the bite that they used to have. At least on this one…

This was a good catch for my dance time, but it really isn’t phenomenal.

2.5/5

New to the Library: “Swalla” Jason Derulo ft. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign

New to the Library: “Imo” SBTRKT

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This track is glossy electronic. All the sounds are crystal and exactly where they should be, when they should be. It’s like if Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper machine made electronica instead of, you know, Gobstoppers.

I’m pretty excited about all of the tracks from this compilation, but I knew SBTRKT wouldn’t disappoint as a first buy…So hopefully, someday I’ll get the chance to do a full album review. : D

4/5

New to the Library: “Imo” SBTRKT