#OnRepeat: Keala Settle’s “This is Me (from The Greatest Showman)”

This week, I’ve had “This is Me” sung by Keala Settle from musical, The Greatest Showman. I must admit that I haven’t seen the actual movie yet, however, after hearing this song along with the rest of the music from the movie musical, I definitely plan on seeing this movie as soon as I can get my hands on it.

The Greatest Showman is a musical based on the story of P.T. Barnum’s life, the creation of his Barnum & Bailey Circus, and the performers who starred in his show. I have been a huge fan of Hugh Jackman since his performance in the film adaptation of Les Miserables, but I was even more impressed with this musical soundtrack because of the pure physicality of the performers for this musical; especially Keala Settle.

Keala Settle is a singer, actor and performer from Hawaii, who has an extensive theatrical career with several awards and nominations. Her voice is a perfect blend of R&B, Pop, Gospel, Soul and Blues influences, both powerful and subtle at the same time. “This Is Me” is an inspirational song told from the perspective of someone who grew up ashamed of themselves, but finally realizing that, despite what others say or think, you need to embrace who you are no matter what. Her vocal inflections and melodic and stylistic phrasing mirror the angst, desperation, defiance, and inner-strength depicted in the lyrics of the song, “This Is Me.” I’m not sure why I haven’t come across Keala’s music or performances before, but I will definitely be on the look out for her music in the future.

Take a listen below:

What do you think? Do you have another favorite song from The Greatest Showman? Leave a comment below!

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#OnRepeat: Molly Johnson’s “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)”

 

 

So this week, I’ve had Molly Johnson’s “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)” #OnRepeat. I came across it randomly (Pandora is something amazing), and I don’t know why I haven’t come across this swanky, funky song sooner.

Molly Johnson is an award-winning Jazz and Pop singer-songwriter and radio host from Ontario, Canada. She began singing at a young age and got her start singing back-up vocals for Rock and Pop bands in Canada, finally releasing her first solo album in 2000. Some of her most well-known songs are “If You Know Love,” “I Must Have Left My Heart,” and “My Oh My.” She currently tours in Canada and France, and is working on a black Canadian history project.

“Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)”is a song written by Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, and Lionel Richie in 1985 for the Steven Spielberg movie The Color Purple. The song–which was nominated for an Academy Award–is written in the Blues and Ragtime style, with lyrics that are sung from the point of view of woman who tells another woman that they are more alike than they think and that she cares and thinks about her all the time. Although this song has been considered, in some circles, to be an anthem for the Black Lesbian community, I like to think that the song represents the kindred spirit that women of all backgrounds tend to (and should) share with each other. Molly Johnson’s smokey, raspy voice adds to the Blues/Ragtime feel and gives that funky flavor to the song that is reminiscent of the original found in the movie.

Take a listen below:

The original from The Color Purple can be found below for reference:

So what do you think? Which version is your favorite? Leave a comment and say why!

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#OnRepeat: “Remember Me” from the Disney/Pixar original film, Coco

This week, I’ve had the Disney/Pixar film Coco theme song “Remember Me” #OnRepeat. I went to see the movie over the holiday weekend and I can’t get the song out of my head. I also can’t stop a lump from forming in my throat whenever I hear it.

The movie, Coco, tells the tale of a boy who longs to become a musician but is forbidden by his family to play music. He is transported to the land of the dead when he steals his musical idol’s guitar and must gain his ancestors’ blessing in order to return to the land of the living. There are major themes of family, love, acceptance and remembering or honoring someone’s memory—all are portrayed in meaningful and subtle ways throughout the film, this song being a strong example of all of them combined.

There are several different versions of the song “Remember Me,” but the most memorable (and tear-jerking) versions for me being the bare, acoustic guitar versions sung by the character of Hector (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) in both English and Spanish. The lyrics are from the point of view of a loved one who has to be separated from another person, so they ask them to remember how much they love each other even though they’re apart. Bernal’s gravely, yet deep voice perfectly conveys the charm yet simultaneous insecurities and deep love that the character Hector has for his loved ones. The acoustic guitar merely adds the vulnerability that is found when expressing your love for another. So in other words, this is a beautiful song that will most definitely make you stop in your tracks (and potentially ugly cry hard). I know I did.

I wish I could find a clip of the scene where Miguel is singing this song to his great grandma, Coco, but here are the Spanish and English recordings of the song for now.

Listen below:

What do you think? Which version is your favorite? Leave a comment below!

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#OnRepeat: Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell On You”

This week is the week leading up to Halloween and, therefore, Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell On You” has been #OnRepeat, especially because Bette Midler kills her version of this song in the movie Hocus Pocus (a movie I watch every year during this time).

Nina Simone was a songwriter, pianist, arranger, singer and an activist from North Carolina who was known as a Jazz vocalist, but implemented Gospel, R&B, Blues, Jazz, and Pop music with elements of Classical music. She recorded more than 40 albums and her improvisational technique, musical arranging, stage presence and socially conscious performances made her one of the most influential singers of her time. Some of her most well-known songs are “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “Feeling Good,” “Sinner Man,” and “I Loves You, Porgy.”

“I Put A Spell On You” was originally written by the singer and actor, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in 1956 with a different theme, but–in true Nina Simone fashion–Simone changed around the words and musical arrangement, transforming it into a song about someone madly in love with someone else despite how they mistreat them. Her vocal licks, musical phrasing and her performance of the words made this one of her most well-known songs (it is definitely my favorite). The desperation, angst, and stubbornness conveyed in the lyrics is magnified by Simone’s powerful, deep voice, her use of long straight tones, and intermittent scatting.

Take a listen below:

Here is Bette Midler’s version of this song for reference:

Although I love Simone’s version, I cannot deny that both vocalists perform amazing versions of this classic song, both bringing their own unique interpretation of the lyrics and music.

What do you think? Which version do you like? Leave a comment below!

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#OnRepeat: The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody”

This week, I’ve had The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” #OnRepeat. This is one of my top favorite songs of all time and will always have a special place in my heart because I grew up watching the movie, Ghost, which this song was featured in.

The Righteous Brothers are a duo group from Santa Ana, California that formed in the early 1960s, starting out performing with the five-member group, The Paramours. During their recording career as a duo, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield’s vocal performing style earned the name “blue-eyed soul.” Some of their most well-known songs were “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “Ebb Tide,” “Soul and Inspiration,” and “Rock and Roll Heaven.”

The song, “Unchained Melody,” whose music was written by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret in 1955 for a movie called Unchained. The song’s lyrics tell about someone who has been missing and pining after the person they love for what seems like forever. The vocal lead for the song was performed by Bobby Hatfield, and their version of this song became the most well-known version of the song to date. Hatfield’s tenor range is showcased with his use of projection and breath control, creating a a wide spectrum of vocal dynamics. Hunger, desperation, and longing are perfectly portrayed by Hatfield’s (at times) wail-like tones, creating an almost heart-breaking feel within the song.

Take a listen below:

What do you think? Are there any other songs or singers you can’t get enough of?

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#OnRepeat: Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”

This week, I’ve had “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion #OnRepeat. I know, I know, but I watched Titanic this week and it’s such a great song.

Celine Dion is a singer from Quebec, Canada who started as a teen pop star recording albums in French with her manager, and later husband, René Angélil. She gained international success and recognition as pop artist with the release of her first album in English, titled Unison, in 1990. Dion’s virtuosic three-octave range and her commanding stage presence have earned her five Grammy Awards, recognition as the best selling Canadian Artist, and caused her show to at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas to be the most successful residency show of all time. Some of her most well-known songs are “Because You Loved Me,” “The Prayer,” “That’s the Way It Is,” and “Tell Him.”

“My Heart Will Go On” was a song whose music was written by James Horner and lyrics were written by Will Jennings in 1997 for the film, Titanic. The lyrics are written from a retrospective point of view: a person who looks back on a point in their life where they were deeply in love with someone, but realized they had to move on, despite their feelings. Interestingly, Celine Dion didn’t want to record this song at first since she had just finished recording another film score for Beauty and the Beast. I am so glad she was convinced otherwise. The song perfectly displays her unique use of vocal technique and lyrical interpretation that would become the iconic “Pop Diva Sound.” Her vocal range, skill in terms of projection and her interpretation of the words has made “My Heart Will Go On” one of the most popular songs of the 1990s. Although many now might roll their eyes when hearing this song (only because it was played almost everywhere you went the year the movie was released), there is no doubt that this song is a Celine Dion classic, becoming synonymous with not only the movie, Titanic, but with Celine Dion herself.

Take a listen below:

What do you think? Are there any other Celine Dion songs you can’t stop listening to?

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#OnRepeat: Meryl Streep’s version of ABBA’s “Slipping Through My Fingers”

This week, I’ve had Meryl Streep’s version of ABBA’s “Slipping Through My Fingers” #OnRepeat. ABBA, for me, has always been one of those groups that is a mix of guilty pleasure and a source of musical inspiration; and this song is no exception.

ABBA is a Pop group from Stockholm, Sweden that formed in the early 1970s, who were one of the most successful Pop bands in history, being inducted into the Rock and  Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. There was  resurgence in popularity of their music when their music was adapted to the 1999 internationally successful musical, Mama Mia!, and the release of the theatrical version of the musical by the same name.

The song, “Slipping Through My Fingers” is sung from the point of view of a parent who is watching their child grow up, reflecting on the child’s growth and wishing time would slow down. Meryl Streep ( who can apparently sing like a 80s Pop star) brings so much depth and grace to the performance of this song,simultaneuosly capturing the melancholic, vulnerable feeling conveyed in the lyrics. The lyrics are poignant and bittersweet, the lullaby-like melody innocent and simple like a child. Adding the performance powerhouse that is Meryl to this mix of emotion and music makes me have a lump in my throat every time I hear this version.

Take a listen below:

Are there any other ABBA songs that you like? Leave a comment below!

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#OnRepeat: Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing”

This week, I’ve had Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing”  #OnRepeat. I’ve written about Elton John before, but this song has always been a favorite standard of mine. I recently came across it in the movie, Sing, where a gorilla named Johnny plays the piano and sings this song on stage.

For those who haven’t read my previous post about Elton John, he is a singer, pianist, and composer from London, England who has sold millions of albums internationally an whose music is still relevant to this day. For more about Elton John and my post about his song, “Without Question,” click on this link:

http://www.singingtillimblueintheface.com

“I’m Still Standing” was written by Elton John for his 1983 album, Too Low For Zero. The lyrics are written from the point of view of a person who is “still standing” even though their lover treated them poorly. The lyrics can somewhat dark, but you almost wouldn’t notice the message because of the upbeat tempo and arrangement of the song. “I’m Still Standing” is an iconic Elton John song–catchy with a great melody and witty lyric writing. Try listening to this song a couple of times without it getting stuck in you head.

Listen below:

Are there any other Elton John songs you like? Leave a comment below!

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#OnRepeat: Lana Del Rey’s “Once Upon a Dream from Disney’s Maleficent”

 

This week, I’ve had Lana Del Rey’s “Once Upon a Dream” #OnRepeat. I just recently came across this recording and can’t get enough of Lana’s haunting interpretation of this Disney classic.

Lana Del Rey (born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant)is a model, singer, and songwriter from New York state who got her start performing in underground night clubs in New York City. Her music blends Pop, Psychedelic Rock, Hip-Hop, Indie Rock, Country, and Electronic music. Some of her most well-known songs are “Video Games,” “Ride,” “Young and Beautiful,” and “I Can Fly.”

“Once Upon a Dream” is a song written in 1959 for the animated Disney movie, Sleeping Beauty, used during the scene in the film where Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip dance together for the first time. Lana Del Rey’s version of this song was released for the 2014 Disney film, Maleficent, a re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty story from a different perspective. Del Rey’s use of the lower part of her range, her full, raspy timbre, and the use of piano and radio effects definitely give this version of “Once Upon a Dream” a darker feel. The waltz-like feel is still apparent in this arrangement, adding to the song’s eccentric, yet lullaby-like quality.

Take a listen below:

Do you have any cover songs you can’t stop listening to? Leave a comment below!

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#OnRepeat: “Without Question” -Elton John (from the movie, The Road to El Dorado)

 

 

This week, I’ve had Elton John’s “Without Question” from the movie, The Road to El Dorado, #OnRepeat. I watched this movie the other night and I couldn’t get enough of this song, especially because of Elton’s voice.

Elton John is a singer, pianist, and composer from London, England who is one of the best-selling music artists in the world, having sold millions of albums internationally, dozens of awards (including five Grammy Awards), and several songs on the Top 40 hit list. He is a strong advocate for LGTBQ social movements and rights, and continues to raise money to help fight and raise awareness for HIV and AIDS. Elton’s music blends Pop, Rock, R&B, Gospel, Glam and Soft Rock musical influences. Some of his most well-known songs are “Candle in the Wind,” “Something About the Way You Look Tonight,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight (yes, the song from the movie, The Lion King),” and “Your Song.” This brief introduction to Elton John really doesn’t do him any justice, so please go check out more of his music (he has TONS of songs…TONS).

“Without Question” is a song written by Tim Rice and Elton John for the movie, The Road to El Dorado. The lyrics, although slightly vague, give the impression of a person who has been going through life doing whatever they want, almost carelessly, until they came across another who they fell in love with; their views and life completely gets flipped on its head. This is my interpretation of the lyrics, but other people could interpret it differently. That’s the great thing about art, and really, Elton John’s music: it’s still a beautiful song to listen to even though you don’t quite understand the message that the lyrics are trying to convey. Elton’s voice is bright and powerful; his belt voice isn’t over-bearing and his lower part of his range is as evenly balanced and piercing as his upper register. The guitar is a great addition to this arrangement as well. The version below from the movie only has the first verse of the song, but you can get a really good idea of what it sounds like.

Take a listen below:

What do you think? Do you have a favorite Elton John song? Let us know in the comments below!

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