The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Very Unexpected Outcome (BOTB Results)


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        For my A to Z Theme Reveal post please click here.   I do hope you will also check out the current post found below.

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Unexpected Battle of the Bands Results



       My most recent Battle of the Bands post featured two different songs by two different artists and also served as my introduction to my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge theme for 2016.  Each song presented different points of view of visitors from other countries who come to Manhattan for the first time.  A number of voters expressed some degree of displeasure with the songs though I liked them quite well.  This is not a new occurrence for me so I've gotten used to people who disagree with music that I think is enjoyable.  As usual it all comes down to taste and probably to a great extent, giving something new a chance to settle into the pleasure center of the mind.   C'est la vie.

       Before going into this Battle I anticipated that there might be a lopsided victory in the contest results, but it did not go in the direction I had expected.    I fully expected Prefab Sprout to be the big winner in this match since the Bollywood tune was more techno sounding.   I was somewhat surprised to see the votes coming in the opposite way.   I would have never predicted the trouncing that occurred in this round.  The tune "Manhattan" from the film English Vinglish ended up with a decisive win.  Though Prefab Sprout pulled into a decent second toward the end of the voting.

       The Bollywood tune was very entertaining to me which is why I decided to use it.  And it helped create a nice blog theme when combined with Prefab Sprout's "Hey, Manhattan!".    I will admit that I went into this contest with extreme prejudice in favor of Prefab Sprout which is my pick in this match-up.  

       Prefab Sprout has been a favorite group of mine since 1987 when I read an interview with the members of U2.  A couple of them cited this group with the odd name as their favorite band so I decided to check them out.  With a sound that is in some ways comparable to Steely Dan, their first two albums blew me away with slick arrangements and a unique sound.  In my opinion they are one of the best bands of the 80's.  

        The band's front man Paddy McAloon is highly regarded as one of the great songwriters of the modern pop era.  Using Jimmy Webb and Brian Wilson as his greatest songwriting influences, I think that he has matched their efforts if not taken his craft to a higher level.  His melodies can be a fascinating mix of styles with slick stylish arrangements.  Often dealing with spiritual issues and life circumstance, his lyrics are intelligent yet easy to understand and spiked with wit and irony. 

        Many of the Battle voters commented on the schlocky TV show theme sound to "Hey, Manhattan!", but I do believe this was of purposeful intent regarding the subject matter.  Since the song initially starts out talking about the glitter and glitz of the city the "soundtrack" of this story deserves that theatrical sound often associated with New York.   As the song story begins to consider the JFK assassination and the homeless in Manhattan, the music plays in ironic contrast, yet leaves the listener with a sense of hopeful happiness as the song fades with shimmering strings and a pop-jazzy trumpet.  The reality of what is juxtaposed against the unreality of the music creates a kind of cool image in my mind.

         Sometimes it takes a bit of listening to songs before most of us can really get into what is being done.  Prefab Sprout hit me the right way when I first heard them.   On the other had there were some like myself who initially thought Bob Dylan or Tom Waits were bad singers singing weird songs.   Eventually I gave them a chance and got what they were about.   In these Battles we don't always get the full perspective of an artist and miss the coolness of what the blogger presenting the Battle heard in the artist.   Maybe that's what happened in this Battle of mine.  Then again, maybe my taste and that of all the other many Prefab Sprout fans throughout the world is just way different than most of you who voted.  

Final Vote Tally:

English Vinglish               17

Prefab Sprout                    10

More from the Sprout

For those who might be interested in a sampling of other Prefab Sprout tunes I offer three of them here.   I'll start with the biggest chart hit they had which, as is often the case, is also one of their most trite sounding songs.

Prefab Sprout  "The King of Rock n Roll"  (1988)



An Anecdote: 

From a party given by Paul McCartney comes the following story told by Sprout front man Paddy McAloon:

"At one point Paul introduced me to the drummer of the Crickets, and he told the guy, 'You may have heard this guy's song.' And Paul started singing the chorus. And I said, 'I'm not sure that record did us any good, because it's taken as a sort of kiddie record.' And McCartney said, 'Yeah, Paddy, I suppose that song's your "My Ding-a-ling."'"
From Rolling Stone Paddy McAloon: The Last Pop Genius



Prefab Sprout "When Love Breaks Down"  (1984)




Prefab Sprout "The Sound of Crying" (1992)




          My next Battle of the Bands post will coincide with the opening day of the 2016 Blogging from A to Z on Friday April 1st.    In April it will be all Manhattan all month including both BOTB posts.

          What are some artists that you didn't care for at first but began to like them as you listened more?   Do you tend to listen much to lyrics?    If you're doing the A to Z, are you ready for April?







46 comments:

  1. Music is personal even though it is universal. I think it should be heralded that we all love different bands/music pieces etc... This would be like someone telling me how shocked they that I love a certain movie and that they are almost insulted that I do. I am happy that I can choose which movie I love just like I am happy I am choose which piece of music I love. I had no idea which one would win because this was quite different but that is what made it so interesting.

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    1. Birgit, no one should ever be insulted for what they like. There is no right or wrong when it comes to personal taste--just differences of opinion.

      Lee

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  2. Interesting results. I didn't like Pink when I first heard her. Her voice is great. I don't like all of her songs, though, and she's not an all time favorite, but we need to give artists at least a chance.

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    1. Teresa, if we don't give an artist a chance we can miss out on some real talent. Often what becomes popular is not always the best an artist has to offer.

      Lee

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  3. Not sure who I voted for.
    Most prog rock takes a few listens before it clicks.

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    1. Alex, you didn't vote. I usually like most prog rock from the start. That was a musical style that just clicked with me from the earliest incarnations.

      Lee

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  4. Long live diversity! I love these battles that go just totally opposite from the direction we expected them to... I like being surprised :) As to re-listening, discovering beauty where previously I could see none, I'm sure it's happened to me plenty of times, I just can't think of a good musical example right now :D It did happen most recently with an author, though. I'd hated this man (and told anyone within earshot, too) for as long as I can remember. And then, through some of those quirky circumstances life likes to throw our way, I ended up stuck with a book of his. And I read it. And LOVED it :) I love being the victim of these paradigm shifts... makes me feel I'm growing :)

    Happy start to the week, Lee!

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    1. Guilie, first impressions should influence us, but never sway us to a definitive stance.

      Lee

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  5. I've heard of Prefab Sprout, but I have to say that I want to call them 'Prefrab' Sprout! haha I'm trying to think of a band I didn't like and then loved but I can't. I was indifferent to the Grateful Dead....I liked the hits like Truckin and Sugar Mag, but then I fell in love w/ them. That's probably the only band I can think of. Maybe Dave Matthews Band...I never liked 'Crash into me' so I wrote them off, but then I heard the rest of their stuff and loved it.

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    1. JoJo, funny but "Crash" was the song that first really turned me onto liking Dave Matthews Band--we all have different tastes!

      Lee

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  6. April is going to be quite a month. Music can be interpreted in so many ways. We all have our favorites.

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    1. Sheena-kay, April is always full of A to Z surprises.

      Lee

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  7. Diversity in tastes is what make life interesting, in music or anything else. I chose English Vinglish because it was fun and had a catchy tune. Prefab Sprout just seemed too "Broadway". You're obviously a huge fan, Lee and these results must have been a bit disappointing for you. One never knows how these battles will turn out. As for your question, I was not a big fan of Def Leppard, until I saw them live. Heart was the opening act, which was the attraction for me. Def Leppard put on a great show and I left with new respect for them and their music (not all of it, but much more than before).

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    1. Debbie D, an artist's live performance tells the most about who they are I think. I had been a fan of Murray Maclaughlin for a while, but when I saw him in an intimate concert setting in Toronto I was blown away in seeing a different side of him that provided an entirely new dimension to his talents which made me an even bigger fan. Some artists are mainly studio talents and don't shine too much live.

      Lee

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  8. Lee, music is definitely a personal choice. What is one person's pleasure is another person's misery (that may be a far stretch, but you get it). I went with the winning census this round. I actually like your collection of Prefab Sprout music over last week's song choice. These are rather nice and I enjoyed listening to them, so thanks for sharing these new-to-me tunes. I'm looking forward to April's big blogging challenge!

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    1. Cathy, I think you are right about pleasure and misery. I immediately think of loud rap music which puts me in misery--I can only assume that it is giving pleasure to the one listening to it. Prefab Sprout has a great catalog (in my opinion) and I enjoy everything they've done.

      Lee

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  9. Q!: Toni Braxton

    Q2: Yes. I'm a big fan of Bob Dylan and Billy Joel, two guys who could write the heck out of a song.

    Q3: Doing the A to Z Challenge. Kind of ready.

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    1. EMan, I'm not at all familiar with the music of Toni Braxton, but Dylan and Joel definitely. See you at the Challenge.

      Lee

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  10. Hi, Lee!

    Your latest battle was not a rout by any stretch of the imagination and I congratulate you on getting out the vote. I agree that, given time and with repeated listening, a lot of music we initially dislike will start to grow on us. In our fast-paced modern world, most of us rely chiefly on first impressions that are formed within a few seconds. That applies to evaluating people as well as music. I continue to surprise myself with my capacity to embrace new and different types of music. I seem to find a new category to get excited about every week or two. As I see it, more choices means more fun. I do not dislike Paddy McAloon. It is simply a matter of liking the other choice a bit more.

    Thanks, Lee!

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    1. Shady, well at first it seemed like a rout, but agreed that the outcome was not all that bad. You should check out more of McAloon's music. He's done some nifty work.

      Lee

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  11. One thing I like about your battle of the bands is I learn something. I get tired of the same old same old. So thanks.

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    1. Ann, I try to mix things up a bit in my Battles and sometimes reach into somewhat obscure musical territory.

      Lee

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  12. Neil Young was one whose voice I couldn't stand. Over time the lyrics became clear and actually quite insightful into one man's journey.
    I listen for both sound and lyrics; like rustling leaves in a breeze or snapping branches in a gale-force wind - depending on the artist's message.
    I've been thinking about this year's A-Z challenge since last year's challenge ended. I sure better be ready, huh?

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    1. Diedre, I've heard a lot of people say they don't care for Young's voice. I was struck from the very start, but I guess a lot of it was the sound of the music overall. Lyrics usually take a while for me to get into if I ever really do.

      Lee

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  13. I have a tendency to listen closely to the lyrics when the artist is actually singing the words clearly. Clear vocals equals appreciating the song. Bad vocals, like on grindcore or punk, equals dismissing the song.

    In regards to your other question, if I dislike an artist early on, chances are very good that I will not like them later.

    Father Nature's Corner

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    1. GB, garbled lyrics will usually make me dismiss them especially since I usually listen to music more than lyrics. Sometimes I've been surprised as to what the lyrics are actually saying if I happen to read the lyric sheet if one is enclosed in an album. Sometimes the lyrics are pointless and dumb.

      Lee

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  14. I like Prefab Sprout. They definitely have that 80s sound. I'm glad you presented more selections by them in this post. And glad to see that they had a decent showing in the voting. I think when I voted I was the first one who voted for them.
    I didn't like ELO when I first heard them but grew to appreciate their varied instrumentation.
    You know what's weird? I follow your blog via email but I never get an email notification that you have a new post until late in the evening on the day that you post. It's odd that the email notification doesn't come immediately when you publish... Just wanted to let you know. Not sure if you have it set up that way but thought I'd bring it to your attention in case you didn't set it up that way.

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele, I have the same problem with getting late notifications on Blogger blogs. I guess maybe it's a blogger issue or maybe something else. Who knows? But I don't think it's just on my blog.

      Lee

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  15. Your post brought back wonderful memories from the 80s when MTV was my favorite channel - and played in the background whenever I was home. That's when I "met" Prefab Sprout and loved them. One band, if one can call him that, I fell in love with right away (I still can't explain why) is Prince. I also remember the first time I bought a Steely Dan tape. Still have it and enjoy it. :)

    Now I really must wallow in some nostalgia, Arlee. Music is such a wonderful thing!

    And yes, I am as ready as I'll ever be (at least in my head) for the April A to Z Challenge! Writing the posts, yes, I am at it too!

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    1. Vidya, I recall my first exposure to Steely Dan was on a TV music show. I was super impressed and I think they got better with each album that followed the first one. Music is the best time machine without actually going back in time.

      See you in the Challenge.

      Lee

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  16. Interesting and fond memories.... All the best with the theme

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  17. Initially, I never cared for U2 or Depeche Mode. Especially Depeche Mode I never saw what the hype was all about. But I have grown to love many of each artists songs. But still, neither are among my favourite artists.
    I'm doing A-Z and I'm still getting prepared for it. I hope to be all ready by April 1st.

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    1. Jeffrey, I don't recall being too impress with Depeche Mode at first--they sounded weird to my ears--but then something happened and I started buying all their albums. U2 impressed me when I saw their "Concert at Red Rocks" on HBO and I then became a fan. I wouldn't say either is a favorite, but I enjoy listening to both bands.

      Lee

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  18. Hi, Lee,

    I enjoyed your post and reminisced along with you about great 80's music. It is still to this day, my FAVORITE decade of music. I remember buying my first CD stereo an AIWA.... It cost over $800 at that time. A LOT of money in 1986! My first CD was Visions of LOVE by MIrah Carey.

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    1. Michael, I probably bought the most music during that decade because I was on the road at the time and listened to cassette tapes in my van while driving. Now I have hundreds of cassettes that I no longer listen to.

      $800 was a lot to spend then and now. Technology has become so much less expensive now. Thanks China I guess.

      Lee

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  19. Another win for me this week. I'm on a roll...

    Very much looking forward to your posts about that city in the Big Apple.

    Mary @ Jingle Jangle Jungle

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    1. Mary, you might be surprised about some of the Manhattan posts.

      Lee

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  20. I didn't vote Lee. I am still "Resting" my shoulder before the onset of the A to Z.
    My book should be ready to go on sale within a few weeks , so will write about it before the Challenge begins.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, make sure you're in good shape for April! Let me know about the book details and I can put up something on my blog about it.

      Lee

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  21. Wow! I picked the one that won! Feeling happy now ;)

    Sprout is definitely 80's. I like his '92 song better than the eighties. Okay, onward and upward from A-Z. I'll be cheering you from the sideline this year. I'll be disguised as a minion :)

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    1. Dixie, since the 90's McAloon has jettisoned his band I guess and records by himself mostly. I guess touring is no longer part of the Sprout scene.

      Lee

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  22. I missed the voting, but I went back to listen, and yeah, I would've voted for the Bollywood song too.

    Tastes vary, and it might be generational. I listened to a lot of alternative music when I was in high school, and that's what I prefer now. My friend who is 10 years younger than me likes singers with higher voices. She's very opinionated about what is good music, and apparently, what I listen to isn't good. Bah! I like it!

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    1. Loni, we like what we like and that's okay. I like just about all music unless it's annoying to the extreme.

      Lee

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    2. it says the link is now closed. I really want to do the challenge, have never done it before.

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    3. You're probably looking at the wrong list. Check out the list at: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-z-challenge-sign-up-list-2016.html

      Lee

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee