Bring Back the Orchestra!

This was meant to be the defining moment of my year here in Sweden.  A beautifully crafted song, great for the oddities and press-publicity of Melodifestivalen, ready to record in time for the deadline, and a realistic chance of a slot singing in no. 2 in the 3rd semi final, finishing 7th in the semi and being forgotten about all again.

That is looking like it isn’t going to be though now.

I decided, perhaps naïvely to record a new song, quirky, awkward musical theatre – instead of the more usual piano-pop-ballad-middle-of-the-road stuff you know me for.  The song is great.  The recording was more awkward and clunky than the song itself.  I hated the entire experience.

Even with a good friend to help me – I just kept hitting brick wall after brick wall with the production.  Nothing was sounded right.

When I worked out why it horrified me.  Everything on the recording was so clean, my voice, the synthetic string beats, the percussion.  Every fault could be not just heard, but stood at as something in need to fix.

Easy you may think, but I’m a singer – no musical experience at all past GCSE Music.  I can write some damn good songs – but I will never play them the same or at the same tempo two times.  Further to that, I busk, it’s all live.  The version I have on my mp3 player, recorded in the music room with paper flapping everywhere, echo all around and the odd wrong note here and there sounds so organic, powerful, raw and, more than anything, good!

It was a sudden realization that for me re-ignites a big debate in the Eurovision world.  To bring back or not bring back the orchestra?  Or, as it could be re-phrased for modern times, to bring back an option for live music.

Optional of course – the contest wouldn’t move on enough for commercial tastes unless it would have computerized music too.  However, we’ve seen enough artists and groups, mainly to be said of the guitar category, who are lost without playing live, and another group who won’t enter something as tedious as a TV karaoke competition.  More difficult for a host yes, but not impossible to program after 70 minutes of rehearsals with the improvements over the last 10 years in digital recording.

At the end of the day, we are making songs here.  Songs are different than just music – they are live pieces of artistry.  Songs engage crowds with their performances.  Trying to record the vocal part last week made me feel like a massive fake – it was ok – but there was no passion and acting in it – it was a part – and I hated it.  No adrenaline or kick or force to make it special.  It’s musical theatre, I’m acting it, feeling it – you would never have Broadway with recorded music – and although that is quite different as the actors are not playing music themselves – the principle of choice is important – and if a country values it they should be able to take the risk.

It looks very likely that Eurovision is going to miss out on me, but surely many others too, and surely too a step in the right direction is to allow those who benefit from this to open up the world of live music to their chances.

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