the state of things


The Curious Incident of The Song In The Prime Time

by Douglas Lindsay - 16:27 on 18 March 2011

What with having a nearly teenage daughter in the house, for the first time in almost twenty-five years I'm being forced to follow the ups and downs of the Hit Parade. (Possibly they don't call it that anymore.) Suddenly I remember that curious feeling of being annoyed when a song you don't like does well, and equally frustrated when your favourite band peaks at number 47.

At some point you reach an age where you a) don't give a shit, and b) actually hope that people don't like the same things that you like, so that you're different and much, much more cool.

The number one song in the Hit Parade these last few weeks has been Someone Like You by Adele Something. She doesn't appear to have a second name; like a Brazilian footballer. The first time it was played on the music channel that One of Two watches, they had no video to accompany the song, which seemed an oversight by the record company. It was already at number one, so it didn't seem to matter.

This was soon rectified, and for the last two weeks every time they play the number, they've been showing the Brazilian footballer singing the song at the Brit awards. Here's the weird thing. The curious thing. While, on the studio version she absolutely nails the song, pitch perfect, when she sang it at the Brit Awards, there are quite a few lines which are off-key. No one seems to have noticed though, possibly because every time you hear about her performance it's with people saying how fabulous it was.

All right, it's not Simon Le Bon at Live Aid off-key, but then even Chewbacca could sing better than he did that day. But there are still a series of flat notes. Right from the first line. It's a great performance, emotionally charged and a wonderful piece of theatre.... but it's OFF-KEY!

Why, if you're a record company executive, would you do that? The girl can sing a great song, and there's a perfectly good, perfectly executed studio version. Why not use that one? Why use the one that's just a bit off? Because ultimately, that's what it is. A bit off. Parts of it are like listening to Robert Shaw drag his nails down a blackboard. Doesn't take much.

I just Googled "Adele off-key Brit Awards" so see if everyone's talking about it.

No one's talking about it.

Must be just me, sitting here in my obscure and bitter anonymity, because I never got to sing one of my songs at the Brits.

Comment from Kathryn at 12:45 on 29 March 2011.
Apparently, according to our friends who are a bit more hip than us (hard to believe I know), the off-key thing makes it a much more rewarding experience for the listener who realises s/he is listening to raw emotion, rather than a sanistised, polished product. You of all people should love this! xx

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