Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Best Choral Version of A Pop Song

Today's nomination is in an unfairly underrepresented musical genre. High school concerts aside, there is a dearth of choral remakes of popular songs, and that's a shame because choir singers are great singers. Put a bunch of great singers together, and you have greatness multiplied exponentially. Apply that to virtually any song, and the song becomes better and more interesting.

Don't believe me? Take the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which quite honestly was never very good. The guys in Nirvana had some talent and all, but their place in the pantheon of rock history will someday be lowered from their current level (On the "U2" shelf, just below "The Beatles" and "Elvis" level) to their rightful place, next to the "Bee Gees" a few rungs lower.

That's right: Nirvana was simply the Bee Gees of the 90s. Anyway, here's the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as reinterpreted by the Scala Girls Choir:

It got much better, didn't it? That's because of the level of talent being applied, and because the re-interpretation that is required whenever any song is done by a choir makes the song fresher and more interesting. I'm not saying it would hold up forever, but hearing a song done by a choir presents a new take on it.

And, yes, I mean any song benefits by being performed by a choir. Any song.

And pretty much any choir will do. I said that it's professional voices, but it's not like you've got to be Bono or something. The combination of voices makes each one better where one alone might not carry the song, and the enthusiasm of people singing together patches over any rough parts. Hence, Young @ Heart becomes more than the sum of its parts:

And a middle school can put on some blue suede shoes:

These songs are so cool, so fun, I'm not sure why this isn't a bigger area of music. I'm not sure why there's not traveling choirs out there re-interpreting all of our favorite songs. If they can make musicals out of Billy Joel and ABBA songs, why can't my dream of a country full of roaming bands of choirs descending upon a town in tour buses, taking up residence at the Civic Center for a few days, and treating us to peppy, fun versions of great rock songs come true?

Also, Young @ Heart does The Ramones:

But really, I think there should have been given a little more thought to a bunch of seniors singing about their desire for sedation. If Young @ Heart performs that at the wrong kind of nursing home, we've got another Heaven's Gate on our hands, sans the comet.

Choir interpretations are also a universal thing. I've spoken before about how music can bring the world together. Some of that is already happening. How else to explain the Russian Army Choir performing a Frank Sinatra Song with what looks to be the the guys from A Flock of Seagulls?

I'm glad those guys kept working. "Space Age Love Song" was good and all, but it shouldn't be both the high point and the end of one's career.

No survey of musical trends would be complete without at least one "Macarena" reference, right?

I thought, for a while, that choir music would catch on big, given that it was on TV and everything, a show you'd figure I'd have watched given that it combined choir music and Nick Lachey:

That, by the way, was phenomenal. I didn't watch the show due to it's distressingly low number of aliens and lasers, but I hope Nick won.

But enough random choir versions. I'm here to tell you which Choral Version of A Pop Song is The Best, and I know which one that is.

Back when I was young and didn't wake up with my ankles hurting for no apparent reason whatsoever, as though I'd been running in my sleep, which is ridiculous because I don't even run all that much when I'm awake, but, there you go, I wake up every morning with sore ankles and a little less hair. Back when that didn't happen, I went to a Paul McCartney concert at Soldier Field in Chicago. At the end of the concert, he did "Hey, Jude," which is itself one of the top 10 songs of all time.

The entire audience, all 100,000,000 people in the stadium held up lighters (this was when regular people smoked. Nowadays, only jerks and cowboys smoke) and sang along with the chorus part.

It was beautiful. I still get goose bumps. There was never a song more meant to be done by a choir, by a bunch of people all singing together about making the world a little better.

And I've found The Best possible version of "Hey, Jude" by a choir. Without further ado, I give you The Best Choral Version of A Pop Song.

In fact, I'll give you TWO:


Check out these reader nominations for this category:

Merton Sussex nominated the Sacramento State Jazz Singers' version of Ben Folds' "Selfless, Cold & Composed."

Anonymous nominated the Capital Children's Choir's tribute to Lily Allen.

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Anonymous said...

Try this one :) ...

Briane P said...

I did -- and you've been put up as a reader nomination! Thanks!

Briane P said...
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