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