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Archive for March, 2011

The Universe is Laughing

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Jessica and I have been singing together pretty much since the first day we met, but it took us a long time to figure out how to do it properly. Something about our blend never sounded quite right. One day, we were in the car singing through Rites of Passage by Indigo Girls, and when we got to “Jonas and Ezekial” I think I was drinking some water or something and she got to the lead part — the Amy Ray part, the part I should be singing! — before I did. So I sang Emily Saliers’ part instead, which goes into the stratosphere near the end. I blew out my voice, but it actually sounded okay.

And that’s when we figured out the secret to us singing together: she needs to take the low part. It makes sense. Telemarketers call her “sir” and me “ma’am” when they get us on the phone. She’s got a deep voice, I sound kind of like the pimply-faced kid on The Simpsons. She fixes stuff in the house when it breaks, I suggest calling someone and paying them too much money to do it. She wears the pants, I look good in a dress. (Not that I do that sort of thing (regularly), but c’mon. These legs? Please.)

The other night we took a stab at singing one of our favorite songs, “The Universe is Laughing,” by one of our favorite bands, The Guggenheim Grotto. Not too shabby. I like singing the high part more anyway.

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Irene Cara Never Happened

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Acoustic ’80s is back in rehearsals and learning new material for a bunch of gigs over the next few months. That means we’re digging through our ’80s collections, picking out songs we’d like to try, and adapting them to our style. And sometimes that means changing the keys on the songs — especially the ones originally sung by girls. To find the right key for me, I use a pitch-adjusting program on my computer.

A couple of years ago, we were contemplating doing “Fame,” which you may remember from a movie, also coincidentally titled Fame. Or the TV show, which, holy crap, was also titled Fame. The theme song was sung by Irene Cara.

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Well, I sure as shit can’t sing it in this key. So I lowered the song by five semitones. And this is what I heard.

Manly Fame

Two thoughts instantly came to me:

1) Ha ha ha ha ha ha! I shall name this version “Manly Fame.”

2) You know who this sounds like?

It’s Billy Ocean, seen here at 1/78th of his normal size and holding on to a Pick-up Stick for dear life. Maybe I’m crazy, but to me, the resemblance is uncanny. The key, the tone, presumably the beard — totally Billy Ocean. So at first, I was like, wow, if you lower Irene Cara five semitones, you get Billy Ocean.

But wait a second. What if Irene Cara is — and always has been — Billy Ocean raised five semitones? What if Irene Cara never happened?

Look, I know it’s a crazy theory. But Billy Ocean, though on the scene in the late ’70s/early ’80s, didn’t really hit it big until 1984. What if he was just used by the industry to create Irene Cara? His real name, Leslie Sebastian Charles, is even a female name!

Just think about it. Don’t come to a decision now. But have you ever seen them in the same room together?

We did eventually perform “Fame,” by the way. We just decided to perform it with our friend Jen singing lead.

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