Because Vocal Harmony Is Just Better: P. Craig’s Top Twenty Favorite Songs (In Stereo)

We may live in tough times, but we can still enjoy the music. Thankfully, the world is not going to hell in a fruit-basket.

Westlife  (I might Change this order later — feeling fickle)

  1. Walk Away   (First class ‘Bach-n-roll’ Ballad)
  2. That’s Where You Find Love
  3. Obvious  (Shane rules)
  4. Something Right
  5. My Love
  6. Puzzle Of My Heart
  7. Maybe Tomorrow
  8. Us Against the World  (Here, Mark rules the known world).
  9. Amazing
  10. Evergreen
  11. Closer  (One Word: PLAT – IN- UM)  Did Clive Do This?
  12. If I Let You Go
  13. Dance  (It really does make you feel like …. singing?)
  14. Close
  15. Don’t Say It’s Too Late
  16. Beautiful in White
  17. Shadows
  18. Reach Out
  19. Lay My Love On You
  20. If You’re Heart’s Not In It
  21. Change The World
  22. How Does It Feel
  23. “What About Now,” fantastic remake)

Backstreet Boys  (Order subject to change later). Problem I have here is that Backstreet have so many great songs.  Grrr.

  1. Drowning  (Brian is “off-the-hook” excellent is this song)(Sorry, Starving, Sarbaeng. Don’t care — love it no matter what).
  2. Spanish Eyes
  3. Safest Place To Hide  (Nick’s part excels here.  They all sound great.)
  4. Breathe  (Climbing da charts — OH YEAH !!   Kevin #1.)
  5. Don’t Wanna Lose You Now  (This Song could not end more perfectly. And they all sound spectack).
  6. Light On   (AJ is fantastic as usual here).
  7. Make Believe
  8. Shape of My Heart  (I esp. like Nick’s part in this song).
  9. Lose It All     (Holy Mother of God, these people rock)
  10. How Did I Fall in Love With You
  11. Climbing the Walls
  12.  Unmistakable
  13. Never Gone
  14. I Still
  15. Downpour    (I did not like this song when I first heard it; now I LOVE IT. Learning curve.).
  16. Make Believe
  17. Feels Like Home
  18. Something that I Already Know (This song is excellent; violins are in the driver’s seat)
  19. Inconsolable
  20. Best That I Can
  21. Just Want You To Know
  22. Crawling Back To You

Question: What do Backstreet and Westlife have in common — the Gaelic tradition and the “classic American” traditions of vocal harmony do in fact show a certain “commonality,” even though they bear the impress of markedly different kinds of (similar) song-form implementation?  I shall create a brief list (These are typical and customary, not absolute, descriptions).

  1. A love for the classical sound. Both would have much good to say about the European composers. Note the use of the violin among both groups.  The fact that the violin can be synthesized is here beside the point I intend.  A good violin is a good violin, just as a “voice print” rendered digital (like the digitized sound of WL or BSB on a CD) is still the same band.
  2.  Emotive drive.  Both bands create and implement emotionally-charged ballads we should applaud as “top shelf.”  “Walk Away” and “Spanish Eyes” are both platinum.
  3. Vocal Clarity and (highly-skilled) Modulated Resonance. Try to stay with Kian in the song “Us against the World,” and you could very well hurt yourself.  Brian (BSB) seems to do this kind of thing almost as second nature sometimes.
  4. Streaming Melody.  The opposite of “streaming” would be “choppy,” “rough,” “brutish,” “abrupt,” volatile — er, just think of an “auditory mugging”  (Some hip-hop and most disco).
  5. Contrived and Controlled Empathy.   This perspective enables the listener to see through the eyes of someone they have never met, and yet feel what they feel.
  6. Imaginative Transposition.  This term describes the ability to make you feel like you live for the moment, in another time, and in another place – A World of Their Own, so to speak.
  7. The Quest for Symphony and Harmony United. Well, sometimes. Not every song suits this purpose; but some do.   In my Ideal music-theory world, this always happens in all instances of superlative music. This is in part an explanation of why I like WL and BSB so much, and think of 90% of the music — the other guys — so far created as, well, dismal and mediocre.
  8.   Personal-Relational Theme Development.  Their music treats the topics (e.g. “love lost and recovered,” or “life lived well in a volatile world”), and creates the settings, where people and narration interact to show what is (Sometimes what OUGHT TO BE) truly human.  Some explore human potential  or progress (We ought to be “more than just amazing.”   Songs that aim at social criticism occasionally adopt a different motif than the personal-relational, but those are exceptional.
  9. Dramatic Engagement.  The VH (vocal harmony) narrations of these groups often transition with a kind of sudden transition (or slow-then-faster, or quiet-then louder, transition) that introduces new momentum, in stages, with intermittent refrains. The “new momentum” often involves “dramatic flare.” “Maybe Tomorrow,” and “Drowning” both  show these kinds of “Pick-me-ups.”  Taylor has quite a few songs that do this too.
  10. Choreographed dancing often attends the musical presentation of VH groups.  This shows and underscores the intended unity of VH in motion.  It says “We are One,” and “We’ve got the moves like Jagger.”
  11. They Aim to Explore the Full Range of Emotional Expression.  I do not believe I need to say much about this aspect of VH, since the songs sing for themselves on this “Obvious” count.
  12. They often Explore DreamWorld and Real World.

DreamWorld can be good and even “Ideal,” (e.g. Answer to our Life), OR it can be harsh and illusory (e.g. Fool Again).   Reality themes include “If Your Heart’s Not In It,” which reminds us that, for a relationship to last, and for it to be worth the risk involved, its love has to be real.

I’ll continue this post later, if time and any new insights might warrant additional comments.  Remember, whatever your view, the right answer is “Because VH is just better.”

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