Nobody does it like Prince did. His signature sound, his trademark singing, his timeless compositions.
Purple Rain is a true product of the 80s, with its synths and drum machines. The eerie, artificial sounds blend with Prince’s guitar and vocals – true cyborg music, with a very human heart!
The end of the song sees Prince’s vocals shatter and twist with emotion, screaming harshly. It’s a bit of a shock after the more laidback bulk of the track, to be honest, but the jarring change of tone makes the songs more powerful.
“The Beautiful Ones” was released in 1984. You might be able to guess which album it comes from…
Even Bob Marley regarded Dennis Brown as his favourite Reggae singer. And what a career…
Dennis Brown, mirroring the development of Reggae music as a whole, started off singing American R’n’B as a young kid. He started early, recording his first album in 1970 – age 12!
The early 80s saw him pursue a more pop sound, before the dancehall era truly kicked in. This song, released in 1982 as the title track of an album, reflects that. It’s lighter disco influenced reggae, lovers rock for the masses.
But, although it’s not hardcore roots, it’s still a great tune. There’s a place for the watered down stuff, as long as it has soul. And nobody could deny that this song has soul in spades!
Wild Honey, the 1967 album which “Country Air” appears, was initially panned by music critics, which tells you all you need to know about the sheer pretentiousness and groupthink of much of that cohort…
But it’s one of the bands most powerful albums. It departs from much of their earlier material, featuring a more stripped back sound – less of their harmony singing, more piano/singer combos.
It really proves the ability of the band to conjure up enduring melodies. I like the song’s simple lyrics, too.
It’s Christmas, and that means Christmas songs, on repeat, everywhere. It actually hasn’t been quite so all pervasive this year since everything is shut.
So maybe that’s why I feel a lot more charitable to the old classics right now. They’re an integral part of the Christmas experience, well worn yet fondly remembered, like an old Christmas tree decoration.
And it doesn’t get much more classic than this. Although this song isn’t quite as venerable as ‘Silent Night’ or ‘First Noel’, or even as the original Jingle Bells (1857, if you’re interested), it has still been warming hearts and annoying retail workers for a good stretch.
Released in 1957, the song was allegedly written first by a couple of advertising guys – but Helms maintains that their version was pretty dire and that he should’ve got the writing credits. Christmas cheer all round!
This song is very lush. It radiates dusky vocals. It drips with rich strings. No guitar hook is spared.
There’s plenty of fantastic live versions of this. It’s the kind of song which lends itself well to a radio performance.
Michael’s from London, but the sound here is very 70s US. The production, though, is resolutely modern.
But ultimately, it’s Michael’s singing which is important. The rest is undoubtedly nice, but it’s window dressing, really. That’s why I’ve posted two versions below. One with the icing on the cake – one unadorned!
The song was released in 2016 on the critically acclaimed album of the same name.