Monday, July 24, 2006

Pet Sound Peeve

I rarely rant here in The McVie Show—heck, I rarely rant period—but please indulge me in letting off a bit of steam regarding a particular pet peeve. I know I’ll be stepping on some bleeding hearts-on-their-sleeves type of viewers. But frankly this is about taste, and in taste there’s no dispute. Unless you have no taste, in which case you wouldn’t be viewing The McVie Show in the first place.

I really dislike the song “Seasons Of Love” from the musical Rent. Okay, okay, that’s not exactly accurate so let me expound. In and of itself the song’s okay, though not exactly my cup of tea (the hook line “five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes” really grates by the third verse). But the melody is immediately catchy, a must for any good pop song. Plus I agree with the general sentiment of the song, that the measure of a man is in the love he makes in his lifetime; or as stated by The Beatles in their inimitable way, “And in the end / the love you take / is equal to the love / you make”.

But I cannot stand how people sing the song with such unbridled earnestness. To be fair the song almost demands that it be sung with such spirit-lifting emotion that one would expect angels to swoop down and lift the singer to heaven. Which is precisely my problem with that song. Earnestness is tricky to pull off; it’s already on the brink of too obvious. The words to “Seasons Of Love” are already quite earnest; singing them earnestly pushes the song off the cliff and into obviousness.

This problem of mine is compounded when the dance version is played in Bed. The sight of a roomful of faggots gyrating and singing so reverential and so irony-free to “Seasons-with-a-thumping-beat” makes my skin crawl. Every time.


Maybe the song really just doesn’t resonate with me in any level. Anyway, if you’re a fan of the song, this won’t change your opinion of the song. And anything you write on its defense won’t change mine either, so don’t bother.

and what about the disco version of the theme song from Brokeback Mountain?
In general the 70s practice of disco-fying existing songs by just attaching a thumping beat to them is, for me, very dated and lacks creativity. This also applies to instrumentals, although I must admit I give them more leeway because it’s generally easier to rearrange instrumentals.

Having said that, the disco version of the Brokeback theme is okay. It’s nothing great, no big leap of creativity, but at least the rearrangement manages to make the melody and the beat fit. It’s not the best fit, but it’ll do. Unfortunately the disco version pales way too much in comparison with the sublime beauty of the original score. It’s like getting the silhouette of Michelangelo’s David and making it a t-shirt design.
I understand what you mean. Some people I know can be so O.A. when they sing this piece! Nakakainis at ang sarap sabunutan lalo na pag feel na feel niya yung song. Nakakakilabot ever.

Just a piece of info: I sang this song for three seasons in choir, and according to the choral music piece that we used, it's supposed to be sung "hushed but strong." I guess for some singers, the "hushed but strong" sounded like earnestness. ;-)

On our last performance of the song, we had to "pull back" from singing it earnestly [meaning not yodelling out the word "love" in the high registers] and let it just let it flow. It sounded great, in my opinion.

And yes, I abhor the dance version. ;-)
NELZ: That’s precisely it! “Hushed but strong” should be the appropriate approach to the song.

My friend and theater director Ricky A. and I had this discussion about art, specifically on acting. He said he doesn’t like how some actors have misunderstood the idea of Method Acting and of Eric Morris. He disagrees that all this “truth” in emotion is “good acting”. For him, there has to be emotion filtered through a rational and conscious choice by the actor on how to release and express that emotion. Meaning, it’s not enough that you are angry when the scene calls for your character to be angry; that’s not art. Art is when there’s creative control over that anger, an acting choice that the actor picks to add layer to that anger: Is it anger with fear? Anger with disillusionment? Or anger masking a deeper emotion of, say, lust? For Ricky, that kind is the more skillful kind of acting, instead of straightforward, full-tilt, one-layer of emotion.

So going back to the song: singing it earnestly renders it OA because it’s just adding a same layer. Whereas there’s an interesting counter-point to the simple earnest lyrics if the song was sung hushed (but strong).

It was a great choice for your choir to “pull back” and just let the song flow. That way the words will speak for themselves; if sung earnestly, it would be like the words were underlined, italicized and printed in bold all at once! Hindi ba OA? Hindi ba nakaka-irita?
Sorry, I got so carried away I didn't double-check my post.

The sentence "For him, there has to be emotion filtered through a rational and conscious choice by the actor on how to release and express that emotion" should read as follows: "For him, emotion has to be filtered through a rational and conscious choice by the actor on how to release and express said emotion."
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