Friday, April 22, 2011

Teena Marie - "Ooo La La La" (1988)

The expression, of course, is actually "Ooo la la," but when you add the other "la," then you've got a Teena Marie-ism. Here's how this works: for one thing, "la la la" means music, but notice what she does with it. Not only is her melody for "la la la" a true "la la la"-type melody, it's also a soul melody! What puts it over the top, though, is that it's specifically like a late '60s/early '70s soul melody AND the poetry in that refrain is also like soul lyrics from the time.

This song has to be one of her most astonishingly virtuosic performances, but everything in the composition allows for that to happen and it goes for the full five minutes and seventeen seconds right down to the narration finally kicking in at 4:26 and she's preaching. And then a little surprise at the end...


Friday, April 8, 2011

Stackridge - "Fundamentally Yours" (1973)

Imagine this song as performed by a freakbeat group ca. '67-'68 and it works perfectly. Two-chord intro could easily be executed with more of a rock arrangement and the first couple of lines of the verse really have the character of, say, the Move.

After those first two lines, the exposition expands into a gorgeous structure where the verse blends into the chorus as one ongoing segment. The whole thing looks like this:

A1 - Thirteen-syllable line
A2 - Thirteen-syllable rhyming line for A1

B1 - Five-syllable line
B2 - Six-syllable rhyming line for B1
B3 - Nine-syllable non-rhyming line

C1 - Seven-syllable line with internal rhyme
C2 - Six-syllable line
C3 - Eight-syllable line
C4 - Five-syllable rhyming line for C2*

The harmonic language in this structure is expansive and creative and yet still fairly simple. The violin, especially, leads one to imagine the last line with a buildup akin to something like "With Love from 1 to 5" by the State of Micky and Tommy.

With its own arrangement style, the song naturally ends up as a very different entity, most comparable perhaps to Klaatu, and in what is surely about the nicest way imaginable.

* Notice how the two sets of lines in this last section are unequal yet both add up to a total of thirteen syllables.