Before I go to naming the winner of my most recent Battle of the Bands showdown, I wanted to recognize a few of the A to Z participant blogs that particularly stood out for me. As many of you might have noted in the A to Z Reflections posts, there are many of us who agreed that this April Challenge of 2015 was one of the best we've had so far. Some of the content in the blogs of this Challenge was clever, thoughtful, fun, and in some cases rather amazing.
I commend everyone who finished the Challenge. I give acknowledgement to those who tried, but didn't quite make it. And a special recognition to the following:
Rena at Doctor Fairy Godmother presented a complete A to Z Video series. A daily video series meant not much writing on the blog, but her presentations were either very well improvised or scripted ahead of time. Rena's delivery was engaging and had excellent content. Rena has a good style.
A frequent commenter on my site is Michele from Angels Bark. Like I am, Michele is a music fan and she put her love of music to work in her series An A-Z Musical Tour of My Life.
Since I have a fascination with dreams I was very interested in the Dream series offered by Susan Scott at Garden of Eden. She writes with depth and great intelligence. I encourage you to check out her blog.
Andi-Roo at The World 4 Realz is a blogger whom I discovered a couple Challenges ago. She's had some ups and downs recently and is still trying to make it to the end of the alphabet, but at least she's pushing onward and trying to get it done. Maybe a few of you can stop by to cheer her on.
Visiting Maryann Holloway's If I Only Had a Time Machine is an education, but a fun one that is well worth one's time. For the A to Z Challenge her theme was World War 2. If you're a history buff and want your history delivered in an interesting way be sure to take a trip on Maryann's Time Machine.
One of the blogs that had me laughing out loud during April was The Ranting Monkey. His A to Z posts are apparently not representative of what this blogger normally writes, but still now I'm curious as to what's going to be on the blog the rest of the year.
As one who loves food and eating out, I always enjoy a blog that talks about restaurants. One of my favorite discoveries this year was The Chinese Quest, self described as "Five hungry Jewish guys on a quest to find the best Chinese restaurant on Long Island and NYC." Mee Magnum is a clever blogger whose posts made me want to go back east and join them in their quest. I encourage you to check out this very entertaining blog
These are but a few of the terrific blogs I discovered this year and I could certainly go on and on and on. If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to visit the links of those who joined in with their Reflection Posts to find many more great blog links. And be sure to keep visiting The A to Z Challenge Blog for upcoming information about the journey ahead on the A to Z Road Trip where you can discover some of the blogs you missed during April.
My recent Battle pitting versions of "Je Crois Entendre Encore" by David Gilmour against Alison Moyet is one that I've had waiting on hold for over a year. In fact this is a pairing that came to my mind from the point when I first began presenting Battle of the Bands pairings. Since the song is an aria from an opera it seemed like it might be tough for many listeners. In fact I noticed that some of my usual voters were absent for this round of competition. Were they put off by the operatic nature of my selection?
As one voter Sheboyganboy Six said in his comment:
I know that if you featured ACTUAL opera arias in your BOTBs, probably a bunch of people would skip voting, but I would like the battle better every time!
Perhaps Mr. Six is correct not only from the standpoint of using actual operatic artists, but even using opera as performed by popular artists. For many people, myself included, opera is not an overwhelmingly favorite genre of music. Opera is a musical style that requires some amount of patience as well as an appreciation that often calls for some education about the form along with adapting ones ears to what sometimes comes across as a somewhat alien means of musical expression.
Though I cannot cite any statistics, my guess is that a vast majority of people would say that they do not like opera. These numbers would probably be far higher than the numbers of those who would say they don't like classical music which would also be a percentage that would comprise the majority of people. The talent of the operatic singer is typically respected by audiences, but the music is not the music of choice of most of us.
Nevertheless there are certain pieces coming out of the realm of opera that are so exquisite that they transcend any aversion to the genre of opera to be able to be appreciated by most who hear the music. I believe that "Je Crois Entendre Encore" is such a piece of music. The melody performed by a pop artist extends beyond opera into an ethereal realm that one can accept as beautiful music for the modern listener.
David Gilmour and Alison Moyet are both very capable artists who present this Bizet aria with equally high degrees of musical skill and professionalism. For most of the voters it seemed to come down to some genuine quality of Gilmour's voice as opposed to some displeasing quality of Moyet's voice. On the other hand, there were those voters who found Moyet's voice to be soothing, expressive, and more controlled. In essence the voting was primarily influenced by a preference of vocal style with some sway factor coming from the instrumental backing.
For me this was a very tough decision that took me back and forth. Gilmour is a sentimental favorite for me as his version of the song was the one to which I had first exposure as a pop interpretation. I've watched his video repeatedly and I'm a long time fan of David Gilmour's music. That an artist with Gilmour's pop music stature took this amazing piece of music and performed it with such credibility in concert is to me a wondrous thing.
But then there is Moyet with her tremendous vocal control. Unlike many voters, I enjoy the deep sound of her voice--"mellifluous" as one voter indicated. In the Moyet version I particularly like the instrumentation. I particularly like the marimba and glockenspiel so uniquely added to the arrangement. The strings, almost identically arranged as the voices in the Gilmour version, add a truly beautiful haunting accompaniment to Moyet's vocal.
As I have said, this is a difficult decision for me. I'm tempted to just throw up my hands and declare my vote a tie as I adore both versions. However if I must choose then I'm going to go with my greater sense of the musical purist and go with Alison Moyet. This helps her advance in the race, but still not enough for the win. But this was a close race indeed.
David Gilmour 14 votes
Alison Moyet 12 votes
A New Battle Coming Soon!
Next Friday May 15th I will have a Battle of the Bands pairing that led me to some curious findings. My next Battle will be a piece from the film that I will be presenting as my entry in the Blood, Boobs, and Carnage Blogfest hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh and Heather Gardner on Monday May 18th. I hope you find this next Battle to be interesting.
Have you visited any of the blogs that I highlighted from A to Z? Have you ever watched a complete opera? Would you be likely to refrain from voting if I presented two versions of a musical piece in a genre with which you were unfamiliar or did not particularly like?