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Thursday, November 12, 2009

ABBA: Voulez-Vous


VOULEZ-VOUS (1979)

1) As Good As New; 2) Voulez-Vous; 3) I Have A Dream; 4) Angel Eyes; 5) The King Has Lost His Crown; 6) Does Your Mother Know; 7) If It Wasn't For The Nights; 8) Chiquitita; 9) Lovers (Live A Little Longer); 10) Kisses Of Fire; 11*) Lovelight; 12*) Summer Night City.

As if ABBA needed yet one more proof of their being the least cool band on the planet, they fina­lly hit disco at the exact same time that most cool people were starting to shrug it off. Before Sa­turday Night Fever, disco was a silly, but semi-hip trend that was really looked upon as just one more step in the evolution of R'n'B and funk; after Saturday Night Fever, it became the curse of all nations, and that was when ABBA jumped on the bandwagon.

The first sign of change to come was 'Summer Night City', a "preview" single from 1978 that an­nounced the start of ABBA's invasion of disco club territory. Almost arrogantly, it downplayed the strength of both the girls' voices and Benny's instrumental skills: the singing is mostly 'hu­shed' and the keyboards are content with beating out the rhythm, with disco bass taking center stage and the arrangement completely focused on capturing the heated atmosphere of your local disco bar. Had it come just a wee bit earlier, John Travolta might have had lots of fun doing his moves to it. As memorable as it is sleazy, 'Summer Night City' is that one train stop along the ABBA ride where one might consider getting off — or not.

Me, I distinctly remember hating Voulez-Vous as the record that set a clear demarcating line be­tween early, peak-level ABBA with their mixture of classical, progressive, and Europop in­flu­en­ces, and late ABBA with stereotypical disco bass, rudimentary keyboard hooks, and a conscious attempt to sex-up their image — which works about as well as an attempt on the part of the Catholic church to canonize Madonna (Ciccone, that is) for charity and piousness. And for someone whose early affectuation with ABBA was primarily based on their image (more importantly, their music) in ABBA: The Movie, it is only understandable that Voulez-Vous will at first feel like a wholesale transfusion of an incompatible blood type.

On the other hand, there is no denying that, with The Album, the band's old style had reached a point where they were already unable to top themselves — logically, they should either have dis­banded or reinvented themselves; and how, in 1979, could a pop band hunting for further chart success not reinvent itself around disco? Nohow. Disco dumbs down genius, it's true, but it is not a reason in itself to forsake genius, and besides, one cannot live on nothing but masterpieces.

It is also untrue that Voulez-Vous is that primitive musically. Some of its non-hits are just as in­teresting, at least from a technical point of view, as the band's non-disco legacy. For instance, 'Lovers (Live A Little Longer)', with its tricky time signatures and vocal counterpoints, is all but generic; it may even turn off a jaded ABBA fan or two for being so rough around the corners, but it is clear that Benny and Björn gave the song a good workover and made it intentionally experi­mental (in a relative ABBA way, of course) and confusing; 'acid disco', some call it — a sharp contrast with the clearly fillerish 'Kisses Of Fire', which, with its primitive, bland chorus, was probably just written at the last moment to round out the running time.

The hooks also run strong on the hits — the title track, one of the darkest, bitterest numbers they ever did, which probably explains why it hit No. 80 on the Billboard; and 'Does Your Mother Know', one of the tritest, silliest numbers they ever did, which probably explains why it hit No. 19 on the Billboard. Did Björn really need to lecture his audience on the dangers of fan worship­ping and sex with minors? I am sure he must have received quite a few offers from 12-year olds, but it is highly unlikely that a song like 'Does Your Mother Know' could have fulfilled the pur­pose of stopping them. In fact, it was probably the opposite, as you can easily see by watching the video of the Wembley concert where he is singing the words right in front of an audience of 12-year olds... and they're loving it.

Apart from that, the record is not all disco; the songs generally lack the production lushness of The Album, featuring fewer overdubs and less orchestration, which is why it gives the overall impression of a "club record", but certainly the anthemic 'I Have A Dream' (Frida at her best, al­though I am hardly a fan of such choral pomposity), the folksy 'Chiquitita', and the fast-tempo pop rocker 'Angel Eyes' have nothing to do with disco, nor does the overlooked mini-gem 'The King Has Lost Crown'. Most of them do seem a little repetitive and "economical" in terms of mu­sical ideas compared to past successes, though. Perhaps the band members just had to spend more time sorting out their own personal problems (Björn and Agnetha, in particular, were getting di­vorced), and this left fewer precious moments to embed in more distinct middle eights.

Voulez-Vous is, by all means, a letdown. But unless you just cannot stomach disco at all, there is no reason to think of it as a catastrophe; rather a slightly disappointing, but arguably inevitable reinvention. Most of the tunes still range from endearing to likeable (sure I hate the gist of 'Mo­ther', but can I resist that big fat chg-chg-chg-chg-chg-chg-chg that opens it? Not on your life!), and on the strength of that the heart wrenches out a thumbs up, while the brain is still able to appreciate the clever intricacies of 'Lovers', 'Voulez-Vous' and some of the rest.

80 comments:

  1. Lotsa disco- when did we go from "I'm a Marionette" to "As Good As New"? Most of these songs are happy again, and "As Good As New" is the happiest. It has a strange orchestral intro, then a funky bassline kicks in with possibly the best verses in an ABBA song, and the singing is awesome, and the chorus is catchy. Great song. There's also the title track, a very dark disco song, the BOOORRIINGG and ANNOYING "I Have a Dream" (why it was a hit I'll never know), "Angeleyes" with its great chorus, "Does Your Mother Know" with its great bassline, the pretty "Chiquitita", the overlooked "The King Has Lost His Crown", the complex "Lovers", the repetitive "Kisses of Fire" which looks interesting but isn't, and the fun "If It Wasn't for the Nights". I also admit I like "Summer Night City". That was fun.

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  2. Every time i hear chiquitita on the radio I wanna throw up. It's a luck that's the only song of them that receives any airplay down here, because i really really hate this band, possibly more than anything else. Or maybe I hate reggaeton more, if only because it's the only crap that they put on radio these days, and it sucks, just not as bad as ABBA. would you imagine ABBA on the radio all day? I think I would die of internal bleeding or something.

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  3. Now wait just a minute there. Did you just say you hated ABBA? You fail so hard... the melodies are PERFECT, the girls' voices are extremely forceful and complement each other well, and the boys have some great playing and arranging talents (sometimes). And "Chiquitita"? That verse melody is WONDERFUL and the chorus is gorgeous and amazing as heck. Jose, I think you need to stop listening to the radio, because it's obviously muddling your opinions. Maybe you hate "Stairway to Heaven" too, huh? Or "Hey Jude"? Or "Pinball Wizard"? Go listen to your rap.

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  4. Actually, listening to rap is healthier than listening to abba, since at least the beats and the vocals sound like they are being performed by human beings. Which is ironic, considering how widely rap artists use drum machines. As for melodies, i grew up listening to Latin music......i mean, Latin is chock full of melodies that put abba to shame, and again they sound like they are sung by humans. Chiquitita is just a lullaby, and a pretty annoying one for that matter.

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  5. Are you saying that the girls' voices sound as if they were not humans, but angels or goddesses? Well, I would agree with you, sir. It is these vocals and the amazing catchy melodies of songs such as "Dancing Queen" and, yes, "Chiquitita", and the AMAZING atmospherics and playing talents as shown in, say, "Eagle", that drive me to conclude that they were freaking amazing. HOWEVER, concerning rap, I do not feel as though the synthetic drumbeats and whatever sound human- they just sound lazy. Where in ABBA they worked because they were paired with amazing melodies, there they just sound cheap cheap cheap. I mean really- the reason I do not consider rap a category of music is because it is NOT MELODIC. It is just talking really fast over a stupid rhythm, with REALLY dumb synths in the background (which, again, worked with ABBA for the melodies and sheer vocal power). I will not deny the amazingness of, say, Santana, but as I am not familiar with much Latin music, and the Latin music I've heard that isn't Santana (and even some that is) absolutely annoys the crap out of me for the hideous melodies (please recommend something to me, as I'm out of the loop here), I'm driven to say that Latin is not my favorite genre (but at least it's musical, unlike c-rap). "Chiquitita" is "just" a lullaby with a rousing chorus and coda- I still do not get what you find annoying about that one.

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  6. Obviously no heavenly references from my side. Actually, every time they sing together they sound somewhere in between Alvin and the Chipmunks and a herd of crickets. As for the melodies, they are catchy, but annoying, with zero emotional resonance, at least IMHO.

    As for rap, producing effective rap actually takes more skill and effort than you're willing to give credit for. Rapping, or toasting (the rap-like thing they do in dancehall reggae) requires a set of skills not too different from the one required for singing, and actually the good rappers are surprisingly effective singers as well. Rap is not inherently lazy (though it MAY be), it's just a different art form. Anyway, i'm not interested in an overly extended deffense of the virtues of rap, since i'm not a very big fan. Just thought it was pertinent to set the record straight here.

    Now, regarding Latin songs, maybe my favorite currently is Carlos Gardel's "el dia que me quieras". It's an oldie, but it's solid. Some prominent songwriters are Jose Alfredo Jimenez (an oldie too, Mexican), Armando Manzanero (more recent, Mexican), and Juan Luis Guerra (even more recent, Dominican). I would maybe add Colombians Rafael Escalona and Jorge Villamil. If you don't like those, it's pretty obvious we're approaching melodicity from very different standpoints.

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  7. "Alvin and the Chipmunks and a herd of crickets"...hah hah hah.
    I'll say this one more time: the melodies of ABBA are magnificent, and I for one do not find them annoying. I can see where slight time signature change in the chorus of "Chiquitita" might be considered awkward, but I don't notice because I'm to busy gaping over the brilliant verse build-up or the gorgeous melody twist of the "Chiquitita you and I cry..." line. And for a while, yes, everything was show-biz; but as tensions get more and more ridiculous within the band, I feel they got more emotionally resonant. For example, "The Winner Takes it All" is VERY emotional, AND catchy, AND vocally overpowering AND...well, I've said this all before.
    As for rap, I don't feel I've heard "effective rap". There are a couple of raps that I like; for example, I LOOOVE Weird Al's "White and Nerdy" (humor humor humor, and describes me, too) and Rush's "Roll the Bones" (so hideously stupid it cracks me up). However, most other raps I've heard have completely disqualified what could be good songs; for example, Justin Bieber's "Runaway Love" could have been a good song with different lyrics- I actually feel that the chorus is quite good- but it's almost completely ruined by the rap at the beginning, which doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the song AT ALL, and basically just serves the purpose of "Yeah, we're fitting in with Top 40!". Also, I've found most rap lyrics to be HIDEOUSLY offensive. Pointlessly offensive, even. WHYYY??? Also, while I've noticed that some rappers can be VERY good singers (Usher is a PERFECT example, and Taio Cruz is really good too), I wouldn't KNOW that if I didn't bother to listen beyond them TALKING. I like to hear SINGING. MELODY. MUSIC.
    Now, regarding Latin songs, I just listened to Carlos Gardel's "El Dia Que Me Quieras", and while I haven't listened to it more than once so I couldn't possibly make a good judgment, I'll say this. While I feel that it could be a great song in a different day and age, I just feel right now that the song sounds exactly like all of the other 50s schmaltz. (And I thought Latin was beaty/mariachi stuff! This is just schmaltz in Spanish!) The fact that I couldn't hum it immediately afterwards (probably because I couldn't make out the melody over the vibrato), whilst I could hum any ABBA song I wanted to even if I haven't listened to it more than once, should say something. (It might help if I was more fluent in Spanish, though- but I shouldn't HAVE to be, because "Elle" is fine with me.) I'd like to see it covered today, though!
    Jose Alfredo Jimenez's "Elle", though, is a different matter. Gosh, thanks for recommending this to me- I genuinely like this song! It has an EXCELLENT melody. It, however, does not knock, say, "Waterloo" out of the park for me- but it's kinda close. Armando Manzanero's "Adoro" is also really nice- it isn't as memorable as "Elle", but I did really like it while it was on. Juan Luis Guerra's "En El Cielo No Hay Hospital"? That one's got a fantastic melody! Thanks for this. For my money, none of these touch such chef-douvres as, say, "My Love, My Life" or "S.O.S.", but I find them REALLY wonderful. I do like them- so there's obviously a problem here. I'm just not going to admit any time soon that it's in MY argument. Yes, my mom hates ABBA, but I still don't see how a song so melodically brilliant as "Take a Chance On Me" could be considered bad- it's fun! Have some fun once in a while!
    I will, however, be putting down the party-rock atmosphere of Top 40 today, though.

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  8. Did I just walk into an ABBA vs the genre of "rap" argument? Is that's what's going on here? And how did Justin Bieber and the horror of the "Roll The Bones" rap get involved?

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  9. It's more of an ABBA-rap-Latin argument. And yes it is. He ripped on ABBA and is paying for it- and I'm benefitting from it by finding some Latin music I like. And the "Roll the Bones" rap is not a horror! It's FUNNY! It's so ridiculously bad that it's hilarious! It cracks me up! Plus the rest of the song is fantastic and riffy and hooky and chorus is cute.
    Also, I'm sure Justin Bieber's a nice kid- but like I said, he cannot write lyrics worth a crap. (Or whoever's writing them for him.)

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  10. Ken: Weird, isn't it?

    Ross Dryer: Yes, that's a common conception about Latin, that it's only upbeat stuff, despite genres like tango or bolero attesting to the contrary. Now, "el dia que me quieras" is possibly the most covered Latin song out there, with even European classical orchestras tackling it from time to time. I came to know it by a version recorded in the mid-90's by Luis Miguel, which became a huge smash hit across Latin America, including the Latin Billboard chart (incidentally, I was introduced to Manzanero and Jimenez through Luis Miguel covers as well. Tasteful chap, eh?). As for the melody, while not hummable in its entirety, it opens with a big hook (four ascending notes followed by three descending ones) and the first half of the chorus is quite memorable as well. Those are the parts that got me hooked at first. And yes, knowing Spanish probably helps.

    Now, I didn't know those two ABBA songs you named. The melodies are not as catchy as the ones on their best known hits, but as a counterpart, they are not as annoying. But still, I don't see myself listening to them too often, and I wasn't able to hum them after a first listen, so I guess understanding the lyrics probably helps (I suck at listening to english). And did you just mention "Take a chance on me"? I remember one day I was reading Mr. G.S' old site and decided to youtube that song based on his raving review. Guess what? I was like "WTF is this, the highschool cheerleading team?" and inmediately turned off that crap. Cheerleader chants are not my idea of fun. But then, cheerleaders certainly are, so you may be into something here.

    P.S: every time i post i get asked a request i would certainly ask ABBA members (sorry, couldn't help that one).

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  11. Yes- THANK you, Jose, for listening to those two ABBA songs- since you obviously don't care for any of the dance hits (I guess those are one of those cases that split people right down the middle), I figured the only song I could possibly recommend would be one of their heartbreaking, melodic, immaculately arranged ballads. By the way, if you want to hear ABBA as a "band" and not "two girls with synths and drum machines to back them", I suggest you check out "ABBA"- but be wary, as there are a few songs on that one that could be argued as "awful". But it does have the "Intermezzo No. 1", and that's something you REALLY must hear- a catchy blend of classical, rock, and pop? And an INSTRUMENTAL, too?!
    "Take a Chance On Me" is just fluff, but it's such SILLY HAPPY CATCHY fluff- but actually, if we're talking about bubblegum pop, I really don't know where the line is drawn. See, "Take..." is RIGHT on the line, leaning towards the "fantastic funtimes song", whereas Toni Basil's "Mickey" is leaning towards "stupid crap that's maybe fun as a novelty song but that's IT". I really leave it up to the A girls on this one- if it weren't for their voices, which I love so much, I'd probably trash "Take..." too. I guess it's all a matter of taste.
    Sorry for exploding at you earlier- but I have noticed that I'm having a lot of fun with this conversation. Truce?
    P.S. I'm listening right now to the Luis Miguel version of "El Dia...", and I'm absolutely astounded- Luis Miguel has a gorgeous voice, and he MAKES this melody memorable. Wow!

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  12. You're welcome. Now, i have to say i'm not checking any more ABBA any time soon. See, every time i give these fellows a try things end up horribly, and listening to those two songs i just realized that, no matter what they try, the ABBA trademarks are still there, and since it's their trademarks what i absolutely loathe i have not use for any more ABBA, even if it's instrumental. If i want instrumental, I'll go for Coltrane or Miles or Jeff Beck. If i want a band, I'll pick Beatles or Stones or Zep or countless others. If i want women singing, there's Fleetwood Mac, or in a different genre, Amalia Rodrigues. Just a final note, regarding rap (hey, back to rap!). Did you just call yourself white and nerdy? you might want to check this name: Jovanotti. He was pretty well known around the mid-90's. And please tell your mother she got awesome taste in music.

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  13. Now hey. My mother does not have great taste in music (sometimes). Also, I do not feel it is necessary to go the route of "If I want this, I'll listen to this". It's kinda unfair, don't you think? Also, I do not see exactly what an ABBA instrumental with "ABBA trademarks" would look like. With this one it's just piano and orchestra and guitar and FAST and EXCITING, and there are no chipmunks or crickets for miles around.

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  14. Not unfair at all, it's just an expression of personal preferences. As for ABBA trademarks, the guys are the ones responsible for the music, including the melodies the girls are singing. What would an ABBA instrumental sound like? don't know, maybe like the backing tracks of their songs, with some cheesy keyboard playing the main melody, perhaps.

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  15. You can call it "cheesy". Or you can call it "the piano". That's all it is, with orchestra and guitar, playing a classical/rock piece that sounds nothing like ABBA. And I really think your biggest problem with ABBA is the singing, so I don't see what problem you would have with it.

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  16. The singing is my biggest problem with these folks, but far from the only. And ABBA sounding nothing like ABBA, seriously? what are these guys, the frigging Beatles? of course not, they're some shitty band from Sweden whose songs sound all the same, even if we take the vocals out of the picture. Why should i trust them to sound any different on a purely instrumental piece? And no, I'm not impressed by your mention of the word "classical". This band's work features "classical" motifs prominently. That whistling thing on the opening to "Mamma mia"? vaguely classical sounding, like the rest of the song. And like Eddy Murphy says, "it still sucks, man!". I'll just follow my instinct on this one, like I should have done since the moment you heaped such high praise on a song I have always despised.

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  17. Dang. Gettin' kinda flamerish, aren't we?
    I seriously do not get your hideous vendetta- if you haven't heard an ABBA instrumental (and there's two, although I wouldn't exactly recommend the other) how could you write it off? I don't think ABBA uses classical motifs at all- except in "Intermezzo No. 1". "Mamma Mia" sounds not classical at all- it may be really complex, sure, and supercatchy, and quite fun, and annoying (but only if you look at it from the "I refuse to have fun" angle), but it doesn't sound classical AT ALL to me. It's just pop with almost PROG influences. THAT'S RIGHT, I SAID IT!
    Okay, so the opening of "As Good As New" is vaguely classical (but only because it's got an orchestra), but the song is great anyway. What more do you want from me?

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  18. Given that prog is esentially classically-influenced rock music, i don't get the point of the hair splitting, but whatever. There's good news for you: I decided to give a chance to this intermezzo thing, and guess what? finally something by ABBA that doesn't suck! no, scratch that, what i really wanted to say is that it provoked a positive reaction in me. Of course, that reaction being that I had to hold myself to avoid falling off my chair and rolling all over the floor in laughter. This crap is cheesier than Andre Rieu and Richard Clayderman put together in a blender, and not even half as acomplished as either. But the bass and guitar work is actually pretty solid, and the brief instants where it's only good old guitar and bass and drums have a rather nice drive. Not exactly FAST and EXCITING, but nice nevertheless. Maybe they should have left it as a standard rock instrumental? but then maybe not. With this group, one never knows. But as far as it goes, they should have left this kind of stuff to ELP, who actually had the talent to pull it off without falling flat on their faces. But man, what a funny fall is this one. Now that these guys put me in such a good mood, i will tell you something about fun. Go youtube Factoria's "papi chulo" and have yourself a jolly fun time!

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  19. YES! YESSSSS!!! I DID IT! I have found THREE (3) tracks a certified ABBA-hater DOES NOT HATE (even though there are serious drawback/cheese feelings with each). I think that's quite an accomplishment. THANK you for satisfying me.
    That "Intermezzo" may be extremely cheesy, but I really think the melodies in it are totally memorable, and that Benny can REALLY play...I mean, he ain't no Keith Emerson, but who is? And yeah. I guess it was faster in my mind.
    And that "Papi Chulo" song? That had me in stitches. It would probably be even better if I Google Translated the lyrics (gimme a break, I've only taken Spanish I), but as is I'm just listening to it over and over and over...now THAT is party club music. Success.

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  20. Actually, that's a cheap accomplishment. Have you seen how hardly Mr. G.S bashes KISS on his old site? Yet he actually likes some 10 of their songs or something. And i'm glad you enjoyed "Papi chulo", but music is supposed to have MELODY, SINGING, remember? You said it.

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  21. KISS and Uriah Heep, and Kansas, too. But here, I'm actually arguing with somebody I don't even know, someone I'll probably never meet, whereas George (by the way, how amusing do you find this utter abuse of your site space, George?) isn't having to be convinced by anyone. And remember- every bad poet has at least one good poem in his backpack.
    "Papi Chulo" was certainly not very musical, but it gave me the giggles so badly I loved it. I told you there was some rap that I liked- as long as it takes itself in a completely parodic manner ("White and Nerdy", "Roll the Bones") and is not offensive or disgusting, I can sometimes swallow it. It's still one of my least favorite genres, though- but it was so fascinating hearing it in Spanish.

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  22. Hey, I'm enjoying this debate - don't worry about me, carry on. I don't own Blogspot anyway, it can probably swallow another 1,000 "ABBA vs. rap" posts easily enough anyway.

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  23. Well, Jose Parada, having a fetish for Deep Purple (doctor GS just diagnosed) I am supposed to hate ABBA as much as you do. Sometimes I do indeed, I recognize the annoyance. But you'll have to dig a bit deeper. The two women were excellent vocalists and the melodies áre catchy indeed. Imo in that respect ABBA was only second to the Beatles (and I don't own a single record of that band either) and only equalled by Ray Davies and yes, Uriah Heep - nót DP and Led Zep.
    As far as I am concerned ABBA's catchiness only adds to the annoyance, exactly because I hate it how those melodies stay in my head for hours. Thus it can't be the main reason for that annoyance.

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  24. Listen to the MNb here- I'm pretty sure I have the exact same fetish for prime Deep Purple (I almost prefer their "Help!" to the original), and I LOVE ABBA. I'm not their biggest fan or anything, but I do really enjoy them.
    But Uriah Heep? Really? So "Look at Yourself" (the album) is good- that doesn't mean the band aren't one of the most hilarious parodies on prog ever! I enjoy them, though, for that reason- and yeah, the vocal melodies are okay.

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    1. Oh, I won't deny UH's flaws. But that's for another thread, OK? My point is that their melodies in the Byron era belong to the catchiest ever created. Best example is All my Life, which I hate as much as every seasoned UH-basher. I listened to it twice in 30 years and stíll can remember it note for note. Hate or not, that's quite an accomplishment.

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    2. Actually, you know what? I'll admit it once and for all: I LOVE URIAH HEEP. There, I said it.
      They really are memorable, and they make me laugh (sounding like Deep Purple crossed with Genesis or something), and I really really like them. And it may be ridiculous, but "Look at Yourself" is pushing one of my favorite albums in my collection.

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    3. So do I. The goofy Oh Ah's in the second part of Bird of Prey never fail to make me laugh. Their music isn't supposed to work, so it's amazing how often they still succeed. I needed 6 CD's to compile all the songs I like, love or admire.

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  25. Hi, it's me again. Ross, my I hate for this group doesn't mean I approach every new song by them expecting to throw up, rather the contrary. I expect to find something i like, otherwise what would be the point? Now some little nitpicking: Papi chulo isn't actually rap, it's dancehall (they call it plena in Panama but it's just, well, dancehall with lyrics in Spanish). And for both of you, on chatchiness: Go right now and check some thing called "love you like a love song" or some crap like that, by some pop tart called Selena Gomez. I found myself tapping to that shit and couldn't help but feel slightly embarassed. Not really annoyed, though. That feeling is reserved for certain damn Swedes. Also, ABBA's songwriting is perhaps better measured against actual pop songwriters, not rock bands. Rock is supposed to be (mostly) about the guitar riffs, not the vocal melodies. And I have to add the Stones, among the rock bands. And I'm maybe repeating myself here, but while their (i mean ABBA, not the Stones of course) melodies are catchy, they are so inexpressive to my ears that i can't bring myself to like them. And i really can't stand those damn girls singing together. Plus, they're ice queens (or dancing queens? ice dancing queens? ice skating dancing queens? oh, don't mind me).

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  26. I wouldn't exactly say rock music primarily about the guitar riffs- look at Elton John, look at Electric Light Orchestra, heck, look at the Beatles. They did have some great guitar riffs (Day Tripper), but their main emphasis was almost always on vocal melodies.
    And whilst it's true that they have funny accent, the A girls alone don't sound bad at all- on "the Winner Takes it All", Agnetha sounds fantastic (but it's fun to make fun of the accent) and on "Super Trouper" during the verses, doesn't Anni-Frid sound wonderful? And together, I find their tones completely complement each other.
    Plus, "Winner..." is totally expressive, completely emotional, even if the Pretenders eventually ripped part of it off for "I'll Stand By You".
    And Selena's had better songs. "A Year Without Rain", for example.
    And how is talking over a beat in Spanish not "Spanish rap"? There were certainly no other instruments involved!

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    1. The logical conclusion is that the best songs ánd have a recognizable riff (I am taking its meaning loosely here) ánd a catchy melody. Well, don't look further than Money Money Money, which happened to be one of the only two singles I ever bought, before I realized that albums were relatively cheaper.
      The riff is played on a piano, but it's easy to imagine it being played on a guitar with some dirty distortion. And just like Blackmore did its function is a signal, not accompanying the vocals.
      You see? I always end up defending ABBA. Fortunately I now know that they had tons of filler on their albums.

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  27. To counterweight: why exactly do I hate ABBA? Their music almost always is too smooth, too slick. Jose Parada has a point: ABBA lacks spontanity, even in emotional songs like The Winner Takes it All. Their music is calculated. It's extremely well calculated, but thus never directly appeals to my emotions. Money, Money, Money is a fine example again. The song isn't aggressive in itself; with calculated precision it aims at the aggression within the listener. The line between the two is very thin, but they are not the same.

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  28. Alright, so here's the question: if you hate the mathematical precision so much, do you hate Pink Floyd's "Careful With That Axe, Eugene"? That one REQUIRES the calculation, and it does a grrrrreat job of bringing out the fear and the evil within me. Do you hate Steely Dan? I always find their music extremely pleasant, even if it doesn't especially grab any specific emotion.
    The thing with ABBA (and it's the same with the Bee Gees) is that they were always a commercial-aimed band; you may like this or hate this, but since the melodies are still fine-dandy and the girls' voices are excellent, I kinda like it. Why does music always have to tug at the heartstrings? Don't we have our Beatles or our Bobby Goldsboro for that?
    ABBA, for me, just make me smile. The bring out my happiness, they put me in a good mood, whatever. Like Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs". They're my pump-up hit music, but sophisticated enough to qualify as real art.

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    1. Steely Dan completely leaves me cold. Unmemorable melodies, not worth my time an attention. Yes, the precise calculation is something I hold against Pink Floyd too; it applies more to Dark Side of the Moon than to Careful, which is at least funny (alas, no fear or evil for me). They have done Animals though.

      "Why does music always have to tug at the heartstrings?"
      Good question, I don't have the answer, I only know it is true for me. This is personal of course; I quite often get emotionally moved by Gentle Giant.

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  29. Something I had forgotten to add from yesterday: MNb, I get your point about digging deeper into their catalogue. The thing is, i would already have at this point, had I found something interesting in what I have heard so far. Now, i just gave a listen to "Money money money". Eurodisco-meets-german cabaret, sort of. For one, I don't think that riff would work on a rock tune. It's a bit too cartoonish. Now, on the song itself. Redhead girl has a nice contralto, but her delivery is way too mechanical for me to like it. And that chorus, what am I supposed to do of that? Sing along to it? Throw up at its very listen? at least it's a step above "Mamma mia", which just makes me want to do the second. The beat is solid Moroder imitation, though. And "The winner takes it all" really takes it all. Finally the torture of listening to these fuckers pays off. That's how pop balldary is supposed to be done. No harmony singing too, except in the background, which helps undoubtedly. And while i can notice the Pretenders ripoff (one line from the verse), i think i have heard a salsa song that's even a more blatant one. i can't recall exactly which one, though. OTOH, have you listened to shakira's "estoy aqui" (one of her early songs, from way before she made her big international breakthrough)? That shit rips off the pretenders from tip to toe! Now, whoever is singing (blonde girl, i guess) thins out a bit too much on the high notes, and those aren't even that high.

    Some further remarks. Ross, Elton and ELO are more pop than rock. With the Beatles, it's a hard guess to tell whether they're more pop or rock. And what is this, are you fan to this Selena tart too? i barely knew this girl existed because a friend liked her on Facebook. She is 17 (my friend, that is). About dancehall and rap, they are actually closely related genres (i think rap is an outgrowth of dancehall, or something like that). After all, i said i was just nitpicking. I guess you can think of it as "rap" if you don't give much of a fuck about genre-splitting.

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    1. I don't meant digging deeper in the catalogue of ABBA, I meant digging deeper in your psyche to find the origins of your hate towards ABBA.

      "way too mechanical for me"
      For me too. This especially works on my nerves when the band becomes cheesy, like with Dancing Queen and Fernando.
      I have not against a cartoonish element in rock music. My hero Ritchie Blackmore played Jingle Bells at the end of one of his solo's.

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    2. Oh, i get it. i guess i have to do that.

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  30. I will give that Elton and ELO generally are closer to "orchestrated pop" and "progressive rock"; however, most of the more rocking tunes of Elton are on piano ("Empty Sky", "Western Ford Gateway", "Take Me to the Pilot", "The Cage", "Burn Down the Mission", 11-17-70, others), and some of the most rockiing ELO tunes ("Showdown", "Daybreaker", "Evil Woman", "Tightrope", others) are based more primarily on keyboards or strings.
    Also, the Beatles definitely started as cute pop, then morphed into every single genre that was around by the 70s, even. They have no distinct genre, though most people classify them as a "rock band".
    Also, I am absolutely offended that you think I might be a fan of Selena Gomez. I mentioned Justin Bieber earlier, and you'd better not believe I'm a fan of him either. It's that my sister, of 12, is obsessed with Top 40, so I hear A LOT of it. I might hate it, but I actually consider it an advantage, as it gives me more, uh, experienced and can reference a lot more. Like your knowledge of Latin, except, far as I know, you actually enjoy Latin.

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  31. Now just wait. The Beatles actually started out as a wild rocking band, it was their recording house's decision to try to turn them into sissy family-friendly pop in order to market them more effectively. But kicking ass they did since the very beginning, it's just they were outstanding pop songwriters as well, and there's where their greatness lies. Now on Elton and ELO, yes, you can rock out with strings and piano, and being pop doesn't mean you can't make a rocking tune once in a while. Heck, even Michael Jackson, king of pop and stuff had a "smooth criminal" and a "dirty diana".

    Now I feel relieved that you're not into pop tarts. Since you talked about "better songs" i was fearing the worse here. Now, that song you mentioned may be "better", more "musical" if you, but who cares? this is pop trash after all, and that dumb chorus with the silly "pi-pi-pi" was impossibly catchy.

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    1. Here I'm with you. She loves you is my all time favourite Beatles song.

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  32. Yep, pop trash spans across numerous artists- however, I will almost always take an ABBA song over any J-Lo or Miley Cyrus songs, no matter how catchy they may be. "Modern" music has they tendency to create a "hook" by repeating the title four thousand times. ABBA do the same thing, but attach MELODIES. So yeah.
    I give. The Beatles did start out pretty hard-rockin'- but they were always a pop band at heart, no matter how hard they rocked, except "Helter Skelter", of course.
    "Smooth Criminal" and "Dirty Diana are fine songs- they may not be among Michael Jackson's best, but they're okay.
    I'm glad, so glad you liked "The Winner Takes it All"!

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    1. The way McCartney cheerfully sings Helter Skelter still betrays it's essentially a pop song. Not that I hold this against them. I only maintain it's a pop song disguised as garage rock or even punk avant la lettre. That's no mean feat, sure, but a hardrocker like me doesn't get his ass kicked from it. It only itches a bit.

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  33. Well, there's an "Isla bonita" ripoff by J-Lo -"ain't it funny" i think is its name-I don't mind at all. Acceptable pop trash. Hanna Montana can rot in hell, for all I care.

    That tendency you talk about goes farther back in time "She loves you yeah yeah yeah", "all you need is love, love is all you need" anyone? Actually, I will go farther back (way back) and bring Vivaldi's "Four seasons" to the table. No lyrics involved here, but the same approach indeed. And we can't really chastise top40 pop hacks for doing what their betters (i mean the Beatles and Vivaldi, don't get too excited!) did too, now can we? and melodies? Have you really paid attention to, say, "baby one more time"? that shit actually has a melody, with jazzy and gospelly touches too. And the hack who wrote that one is a notorious hitmaker, his name is Max Martin. A Swede, incidentally (damn Swedes). You may want to google him, at least to know where so much of today's top40 trash comes from. Also, i still don't get what the fuss is about ABBA's melodies. They are, well, melodies, but then what? For example, i found "S.O.S" actually kind of dull melodywise, and that's supposed to be an ABBA highlight.

    But now then, repetition alone can't explain catchiness. In this case, it was all about the groove. Tight, slick, smooth-flowing. I couldn't hear a discernible vocal melody (that is, during the chorus), but that was not the point. Rather, the point was playing along to the groove, and in that respect the vocals just do the job. Fucking hacks, they just improve every day on their shit.

    And hey, i just liked "the winner..." a bit! not too much, since it is still, well, cornball. Never mind, good song after all.

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  34. For me a melody is catch when, well, it catches me. As a result it make me hum it for a long time. Also I only have to read the title of the song or think about the title and the melody is back. This is an example I hate more than anything else:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbEf43sBOgQ

    Listen to it and tell me you can get the melody out of your head within an hour. I warn you though, you will hate me for it.
    That's what I mean with a catchy melody.

    "Never mind, good song after all."
    Exactly that is my problem with ABBA. I recognize how well their big hits are written, dislike the sterility and hate them for causing ambiguity.

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    1. oh, that shit is just stupidly adorable. I remember having heard it once. They played it at a gathering when I visited the States. It didn't really sink into my head, though. Also, it reminds me of this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA-vUpaMUhU

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  35. Now, I'll play dumb here, MNb, and ask, what do you mean by "causing ambiguity"? And I already said that repeating a title four thousand times will make it catchy- but attached to an actual melody, it becomes a good song. Get it?
    And yes, "...Baby One More Time" has a melody, but it's got a dumb groove and I can't stand Britney Spears' voice or lyrics no how.
    Also, just try to get THIS out of your head: "SO WHEN YOU'RE NEAR ME DARLING CAN'T YOU HEAR ME S.O.S.!"
    And, well, MNb, you've heard "Do it Again", haven't you? And "Bodhisattva"? Among others- Steely Dan actually had memorable enough melodies, it's just bad taste to make them TOO memorable. They had some great chori, too.
    My god, this argument is getting REALlY complex...

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    1. just let me answer in his behalf, by quoting myself:

      "And that chorus, what am I supposed to do of that? Sing along to it? Throw up at its very listen?"

      there, that's ambiguity for you.

      Also, nothing on "S.O.S" really sticks on my head. OTOH, "Give me your SIGN, hit me baby one more time" does. Now, the groove may be a bit dumb, but it's not really very different from the one on, say, "money money money", just slower, plus it has some nice slap bass. Also, the extended version is even better, adding not one but two different bridges that go smooth with the rest. And i insist, that song is damn jazzy. Lastly, just wait. Did you say you can't stand Britney's vocals? Now you know how i feel about ABBA!

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    2. Sure SOS sticks in my head. With causing ambiguity I mean what I wrote: I recognize all the qualities of ABBA songs and dislike the sterility. As a result I always have to defend the band against criticism, while deep in my heart I don't want to.

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  36. You ARE supposed to sing along with it!
    Are you REALLY saying that a Britney Spears song trumps 90% or more ABBA songs? You don't get it, do you? See, Britney Spears just has this voice that tries to be sexy but fails, tries to be fun but fails, and is high and nasal on top of that. The A girls, at LEAST, sound like they're not trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator- I think it's pretty intelligently done makes-me-smile dance music. "...Baby One More Time" just has me going, Britney, what are you doing? Shaving your head? Also, how is its groove similar to "Money Money Money"? "Money..." is a dancehall tune with plenty of electric piano, and a slightly paranoid tempo, too, along with some great subtle guitar bits and a fantastic change of key. "...Baby" is just an attempt at a funk groove that falls so flat, probably because it's so darn slow and tries to bite off a lot more than it can chew. Ugh! I will admit the chorus is catchy, though.

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    1. "sound like they're not trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator"
      I am not sure about that - depends on what you mean with that lowest common denominator. Dancing Queen and Fernando, as I already mentioned, surely apply for this label.
      The skills of the AA-women are undeniable. Their voices are powerful (the chorus of Knowing me, Knowing you), the ranges are quite impressive. No way Britney Spears ever could have sung that.

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  37. Uhmmm......yes, i guess that's what i'm saying. But then i never thought too highly of ABBA to begin with. I will just point out that "baby one more time" is deceptively complex arrangement wise, despite its apparent simplicity. And the melody (rather, the different melodies) is actually better than anything i've heard from ABBA. Britney's vocals are crap, of course, but they are mixed not too high and cleverly concealed by overdubs. Bubblegum trash or not bubblegum trash, this is a well crafted song.

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  38. No matter how "deceptively complex" a song such as "...Baby" might be, it still remains that "Money..." is better in ITS deceptive complexity. And the melodies are better, you say? Wash the wax out of your ears.
    Sigh. Why do we fight? Why did you have to start this whole stupid thing with your flame message? Why did I have to respond? We know neither of us are going to make the other one see the light- at least, not on the Internet. HOORAH FOR PACIFISM!

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  39. hey, i was just venting out, what's wrong with that? also I assumed "serious" ABBA fans to be a logical impossibility. Silly me. After watching on youtube people who claimed this Selena tart could sing even when the girl clearly can't hold a note without straining herself i won't make that kind of miscalculation ever again.

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  40. Now, I am not exactly a "serious" ABBA fan. I actually don't listen too them that often- it's just that I find them so enjoyable. Only Paul McCartney can put me in an objectively better mood. More of a personal love than anything, and I always feel the need to stand up for them when they get flamed. However, "serious" ABBA "disfans" seem to be everywhere, unfortunately.
    Also, who do you mean "Selena"? Do you mean "the" Selena or Selena Gomez? I could find arguments for and against both.

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  41. I mean this new girl. Her (I presume) namesake was actually a better vocalist, though her Spanish diction left a lot to be desired.

    I think i heard Macca's 1979 album once. Enjoyable, if unexceptional stuff. Now, if it's silly happy stuff what I want, i'll take EWF over anything else. Though there are "good mood" songs by artists that don't necessarily specialize in happy music.

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  42. I think "Back to the Egg" is really good- it's not his best (the best ones are probably "Ram", "Band on the Run", "Venus and Mars", "Tug of War", "Chaos and Creation", maybe "Driving Rain", "London Town", "Red Rose Speedway", "Off the Ground") and yeah, his own "Silly Love Songs" is my second- or third-favorite pump-up song ("Can't You Hear Me Knocking" is my first, and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" is up there, too). Gosh, even though John Lennon was objectively the best solo Beatle (he only had one duffer, everyone else had a few) and George Harrison made the best solo Beatles album ("All Things Must Pass", in case you're unaware), and Ringo's darn funny, but I still think Paul's my favorite.
    Earth, Wind, and Fire, you say? "I Am" is one of my favorite groove albums ever! Good thing we agree on SOMETHING.

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  43. Don't know much about solo Beatles other than the 4 or 5 songs that everybody knows. Guess will have to dig deeper, i like their stuff. Haven't heard solo Ringo, but OTOH, "Yellow submarine"? "Octopus Garden"? that's the very definition of pure, innocent, unadulterated joy. Great stuff, never fails to bring a smile to my face.

    Yes, it's Earth, Wind and Fire i'm talking about. I haven't heard a single whole album of theirs, but they have so many good songs, plus the musicianship is superb. I would even dare and say in terms of pure musicianship, they were possibly the best 70's funk band. And hey, there's always room for agreement! Never lose hope.

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  44. Yes, yes, Ringo's songs are wonderfully cute, and so enjoyable (frankly, there aren't a lot of Beatles songs that fail to make me smile, even if sad or angry), but, as George pointed out himself, "Octopus's Garden" isn't the happiest song- it may seem so, but, while Ringo's describing a wonderful sea garden place, all the while saying, "I'd LIKE to be...". It's a song of longing- and this emotional complexity adds even more to a song that didn't even need any.
    Earth, Wind and Fire are so excellent, I'm glad you agree. And "I Am" is the perfect album of EWF- some of the songs on it may not be perfectly developed, but it's got the best five-song stretch I've heard from them, and indeed, the first side is the best EWF side, IMHO. It's the one with "In the Stone", "Can't Let Go", "After the Love Has Gone", "Let Your Feelings Show", and, of course, "Boogie Wonderland". HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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  45. Uhmmmmm, that is like overanalyzing a bit, now isn't it? I always assumed the lyrics just attempted to capture the vibe of a kid daydreaming about a garden under the sea -happy stuff-. If there's longing anywhere, it's actually about longing for your childhood. Wait, I was talking about overanalyzing and just over-overanalyzed. Never mind. That song always takes me back to my early years.

    And seriously, all that stuff comes in a single EWF album side? but then, i shouldn't be that surprised, since they have so many good songs. Maybe the weakest one is "Can't let go" which kinda drags, but the groove is undeniable. But "Let Your Feelings Show"? "In the Stone"? best EWF tracks ever!

    On a final note, just so you hate me a bit more (hey, not everything can be peace and love!) know what i was listening just a while ago? "i kissed a girl". Abismal lyrics, a hoarse, out of tune singer, and a chorus that's dumb, catchy, lowdown, dirty, sleazy, swinging, groovy, and above all else, explosively loud. What's not to like? i can't deny that shit even if i want. Nay, i don't really want. I revel in that shit with no shame, in fact.

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  46. "Can't Let Go" doesn't drag! It's one of the most fun and groovy songs in an extremely fun and groovy catalog!
    Also, I don't think of it as over-analyzing- George actually pointed out first, and I was like, "...Oh! That makes sense!" almost like when I found out from him that AC/DC were a joke.
    Katy Perry really IS hard to resist. She actually had a really great song called "Firework", and another that's potentially good in "Teenage Dream" (what I mean by that is I was disgusted by the original, but the Glee version forced me to sing along). Even though I feel her image as a cheap rip-off of Lady Gaga's, she's got a really good voice (or Autotuner). But, other than "Firework", her lyrics SUCK. I mean really- "Last Friday Night" is irresistible as all get-out, but screw it if I'm actually going to sing along to THOSE lyrics.
    Also, back to EWF- if "Let's Groove" and "Shining Star" were on "I Am", that would potentially make one of the best albums EVER. I hope George reviews them!

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  47. Next to the two more inspired songs, it does indeed. The groove, while driving, is a bit too simplistic, and the song seems to be coasting on it, lacking either strong melodic hooks or interesting shifts in dynamics. But it's a fun song after all, a bit like a proto-house number.

    Like i said, never mind, i managed to go even a level deeper. On AC/DC being a "joke" band, i never bought it. The lyrics may be tongue in cheek (i don't get most of them anyway) but aside from "Big Balls" the music doesn't come across as intentionally goofy, like actual joke bands do. What's wrong with exploring the limits of rock and roll ass-kicking?

    Of Kathy Perry I only know "Hot and cold" and "Teenage Dream". Ok songs, but lack the punch of "I kissed a girl". Not too much into Perry, really. And do you know of that "Glee" shit from your 12 year old sis as well? Just tell me you do.

    Back to EWF: good picks. I would add "can't hide love" and that timeless classic, "September".

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  48. P.S: are you really waiting the 3+ years that will possibly take mr. G.S to get to the E's? I doubt I will have the patience. But meanwhile, he compared EWF with AWB in one of his reviews. While i see the point in the comparison, i find EWF to be the better band.

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  49. Indeed...but how can you resist singing along to, "I - can't - let - go...piano: chord, chord, chord, chord...'cause I love you so...piano: chord, chord, chord, chord..."? I mean try resisting! Although wait- you can resist anything. I forgot :-)
    AC/DC are DEFINITELY a joke. Did you ever hear that "Back in Black" album? That one, and all of the others, is so puffed up and stupid and demonic, that it simply can't be taken seriously. How seriously are you gonna take, "I'M GONNA GET YA! SAAAAAAATAN GET YA! A-HELL'S BELLLLLLLLLS!!!"? How seriously are you gonna take, "Shoot to THRILL! Fight and KILL! I've got my gun and I'm shootin' to kill" (or whatever, I'm too lazy to look at the lyrics)? How seriously are you gonna take, "WHOOOOOOLE LOTTA RO-SIE!"? How seriously are you gonna take, "HOOOO-NEY! Whaddaya do for MOOOO-NEY!"? "You've been.........THUNDERSTRUUUUUUUUCK!" But the thing was, they were talented enough to make it work. And that's gotta be really forking talented- if they weren't so, they would end up HIDEOUS, the laughingstock of the world as we know it.
    Also, "Firework" is a really good song, and a bunch of her others are okay, but I'm not into her AT ALL.
    Also, "Glee" is one of my top three television shows, thank you very much. It and "Modern Family" and especially "The Big Bang Theory". Yep, that's right. It's a show about acceptance- sometimes it goes overboard with the adult humor and the stereotypes, but it's still a GRRRRRREAT show.
    AND, I can't believe I forgot "September"! And I'll just wait for him to review the Bee Gees in the meantime.

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    1. I'm popping in here to say that Glee is horrendous. All the potential the show had in it's first season (*especially* in it's first half season which was honestly pretty good) has been squandered so spectacularly I'd rank it along side a show like Heroes for most biggest downhill slide of all time. Every character has become a walking list of cliches that are modified as the writers see fit to serve the storylines. The show has settled into garish self-parody. I still watch it from time to time mainly due to females in my life who cling to the chance it might get good again, and the one thing I won't say is that it's gotten boring because it hasn't. But every episode I see these days is so easy to poke holes into it's become my own personal rifftrax-show.

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    2. Oh also, I see you're a Modern Family and Big Bang Theory fan. So I must ask, do you watch Community? It ought to be the kind of show that's right up the alley of people who dig MF & BBT. And it's impeccable characterisation and moderately serialized nature puts it a cut above IMO.

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  50. Well, i sat through 5 ABBA songs without having my gag reflex activated......so yes, i guess i can resist anything.

    And yes, i have heard "Back in black" not one, but several times. Excellent album. That's serious music, meant to be taken seriously, even if there's a comedic element. Actual joke music has a different quality and calling AC/DC a joke band is making them a disservice from my point of view. Heck, Queen is possibly more self-consciously ridiculous and overblown (though in a different way) and i wouldn't even call THEM a joke band. I think we should agree to disagree on this one.

    And that Glee shit really got something going for it? i would never know. I'm unable to get past the cheesy high school musical vibe. Talk about resisting anything.

    Bee Gees, know the three songs everybody and their granny does. "Stayin alive" and "Night fever" decent stuff, even if the falsetto vocals are a bit irritating, "How deep is your love" CHEESE. Awful song.

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  51. Okay, FIRST of all- what on Earth makes you think "Back in Black" is supposed to be taken seriously? Even if it isn't unfigureoutable there, interviews of the band show, of course, that AC/DC, especially Brian Johnson, were MUCH more intelligent then any- ANY- of their songs let on. And the image they put on for their music is so ridiculous and disgusting and stupid, it's like, how is this not a joke? How is "HOOOO-NEY! WHADDAYA DO FOR MOOOO-NEY!" not a joke? I'm so confused.
    And yeah, Queen had a ridiculous amount of pomp, and they had some joke tunes but that was made up for by a ridiculous amount of talent. Yeah!
    Also, I would really only recommend Glee for high schoolers- the storyline is actually similar, but the characters are absolutely the best developed of almost any show I've seen. Plus, sometimes, their covers absolutely rock. (No, not "rock", but rock.)
    AS FOR THE BEE GEES! The disco period is indeed what everybody knows (and I do love a whole bunch of it, as "You Should Be Dancing" and "Stayin' Alive" are easily two of the best disco tunes this side of EWF), but their early stuff is phenomenal! I haven't heard the Australian only releases, but 1st, Horizontal, Idea, and especially Odessa are the psych-pop period (and Odessa is, IMO, the best of these), but my favorite is the "ballad period": Cucumber Castle, 2 Years On, Trafalgar, To Whom It May Concern and Life in a Tin Can are fine ballad albums, though most won't agree about Tin Can. Trafalgar is my favorite of these. The transition period's excellent, too: Mr. Natural (maybe my fave BGs album) and Main Course are fine albums that show the transition from the ballad period to the disco period; then, Children of the World is indeed a disco album (actually, it sounds A LOT like "I Am" and other classic EWF releases). Saturday Night Fever is, of course, SNF; and Spirits Having Flown has grown on me A LOT. I have to warn you about this, though: before the ridiculous falsettos, there was Robin's goat voice, which can turn anyone off early Bee Gees. Be careful, but you'll be rewarded.

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  52. Sorry, but i feel that's just a cop out. Spinal Tap/Beards type stuff, that's what i call joke music. This is not. Whoever said "serious" music and humorous lyrics were mutually exclusive? Take out the lyrics and you will get some solid, headbanging rock and roll, with few, if any self-consciously comedic trappings. Plus, "what you do for money honey?" sounds just like a great question to ask your female friends, just to see the reaction in their faces. Don't you think? and yeah, Queen were quite talented.

    Glee for highschoolers, eh? i guess it has nothing for me then. Ny high school years are way behind. I won't comment on their covers, after making the mistake of seeing what they did to "Give up the funk".

    Maybe will search for some Bee Gees later. I will only say for the moment that, acceptable as their disco stuff is, it's absolutely blown out of the water by ELO's "Last train to London". Terrific disco-pop masterpiece, too bad it's stuck in such a shitty album as Discovery.

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  53. Regarding AC/DC one more time- IT'S NOT JUST "Money Honey". I truly cannot think if a single song of theirs which is consciously "intelligent"; however, it's not even the songs I'm talking about. It's the image- the image created THROUGH the songs, the image of loud, sexist, Satanic and STUPID- that qualifies them as a joke. And you know from the interviews and stuff that they were not stupid- and these are the reasons braindead AC/DC fans are so idiotic. They just-can't-see.
    Also, Glee has had quite a few really really good covers ("One Less Bell to Answer/A House is Not a Home", "And I Am Telling You I am Not Going", "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "Don't Rain On My Parade" and others), but I won't deny that they had some really bad ones ("Give Up the Funk" cracks me up, but I don't think it's supposed to, and "Rolling in the Deep" is a cappella, which is an absolute disgrace). Lea Michele, for example, is a HECK of a great singer.
    Also, "Discovery" a spitty album? It might not be ELO's best, but it's a good disco album, and it's got it share of classics; "Confusion", "Last Train to London", and ESPECIALLY "Midnight Blue", and most of the other songs are very, very good hookwise, even if they've got the worst ELO lyrics ever. And "Don't Bring Me Down"? Cool harmonies and such a fun atmosphere!

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    1. "I truly cannot think if a single song of theirs which is consciously "intelligent";"
      Let there be Rock is a consciously "intelligent" song. The riff and solo's are new and fresh takes on old rock'n'roll cliché's. The chorus comes in three versions and thus avoids any hint of boredom.
      Obviously the song is still a joke (just watch the video), so it confirms your point.

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    2. Alright, alright. Their songs SOUND dumb superficially, and can be percieved that way; but it's the intelligence waaaaaaay beneath them (which most braindead fans miss completely) that makes the band as fantastic as they are. I mean really.
      I didn't say any of their songs were boring, either.
      (Also, sorry to do my Grammar Nazi thing, but PLEASE use apostrophes only when you're referring to "____ is/are/am" and possession.)

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    3. Ah, here is my standard excuse that I am not a native English speaker. I'm Dutch. As such I'm insensitive to Anglosaxon grammar nazi's. Sorry, you'll have to learn to live with it.
      You miss my point in three ways.
      I dó think about all ACDC songs dumb. Let there be Rock is an exception.
      I didn't say yóú think their songs boring; I do.
      It's the way how they avoid potential boredom in the choruses that betrays their intelligence.

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  54. I have never watched an AC/DC interview, so i couldn't tell whether they are stupid or not. That said, I'll just cut that argument right here, before we're arguing for weeks on such a trivial issue. I've already made my points and taken yours, but still remain unconvinced.

    Glee, who cares? I'm not interested in anything coming from that show. They have some great singers, well, i'll wait till they make a proper recording debut.

    And oh yeah, that Discovery album is godawful. If it weren't for "last train" it would be a total waste of time. And i didn't even pay attention to the lyrics.

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  55. How is Discovery awful?
    "Midnight Blue" is an absolute classic- I mean really, what's in "Eldorado" or "Shangri-La" that's not in this one? Epic and beautiful as only ELO can be.
    "Confusion"? Don't you love that "Confusion (confusion) I don't know what I should do, confusion (confusion) I leave it all up to you, you've lost your love and youjust can't carry on (can't carry on), you say there's no one there for you to lean on (to lee-eee-eeeannn oooon)"? Why not?
    "Shine a Little Love"? Okay, that song is a bit too party-clubbish, but Lord help me I cannot help singing along to "Please shinealittlelove on my life! Dee, deedee, deedee. Please shinealittlelove on my life! Dee, deedee, deedee. Please shinealittlelove on my lii-iiife and let me see! [Triumphant march theme]".
    "The Diary of Horace Wimp"? Okay, the lyrics are abysmal, but the song is really cute and fun!
    "Don't Bring Me Down"? IMPOSSIBLE not to sing along to.
    "Need Her Love" and "Wishing"? Okay, sappy and dippy, but adorable, memorable, and certainly hooky!
    "On the Run"? That one's got the supermemorable keyboard hook at the beginning, plus the "Do-do-do-don't wanna looooooooooooose it!"
    And I will not argue about "Last Train to London".
    So, what's wrong? The lyrics, of course (the worst on just about any ELO album), and the sound is getting cheesier by the second, but the album is totally melodic and hooky and fun. Why go off on it like it's a lightswitch?

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  56. I have only heard the album a few times some time ago. I barely remember the song titles except for "Last train", and don't know the lyrics. What i remember is that "Last train" was the only really good song. There were a couple passable ones, and the rest would have been ok were not for the heavyhanded arrangements. You said it, the sound is getting cheesier by the second, and cheese was always a problem with this band. By this release, it had rocketed up into unbearable levels. At least i think you would agree with me that "Last train" is the album's highlight.

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  57. Go listen to it again. Or just "Midnight Blue". The cheesiness of the backing vocals (and the Vocodered one) might be there, but that doesn't detract from the fact that it's a great song.
    Actually, there're cheesy backing vocals and production everywhere; but these songs have really nice melodies and really great hooks. Plus, there's some beauty. "Midnight Blue" again. "Confusion" is really good too. But do NOT read the lyrics! No, no, no, don't do that.
    See, if you want to listen to something completely tasteful and without cheese I would very much suggest- suprise!- Steely Dan. You wanna tell me "Aja" is cheesy? You're wrong.

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  58. Wait! I just figured it out! Disco...cheesiness...excellent hooks and melodies...silly production...funny backing vocals...fun beats...partyish/epically beautiful atmospheres...Jose Parada hates it...DISCOVERY IS AN ABBA ALBUM!!!

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  59. And hereby the argument has been brought to an unsuitably suitable conclusion, so to speak. Not that I am listening to this album again, just because i don't share your love of it. That said, poor ELO deserves better than being equated to the worst band to disgrace the world of music, and if you read carefully, you will find i never claimed to hate the album. I just said it was a shitty album. I don't necessarily hate every piece of shitty music ever made. Whatever happened to nuance?

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  60. It's not even that I adore the album- it's just so inoffensive and fun and memorable that I feel compelled to stick up for it when it's trashed mercilessly. Also, what's the point of calling something spitty when you don't hate it?
    Indeed, it does feel as though our argument has come full circle. It started as an ABBA argument, then wove its way through Selena Gomez, Glee, AC/DC, Latin, rap, Earth Wind & Fire, the Bee Gees, and finally, Discovery. It's been a jolly good time wasting my time arguing with you, sir!

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  61. Oh yes, the proverbial need to "stand up" for "your" music. It eventually wears off. Just to underline what a waste of time this argument has been, I'll add that "inoffensive" hardly qualifies as a redeeming quality in my book, when it comes to music. Though I bet you already had found out. A pleasure, nonetheless.

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  62. P.S: regarding the "need" to call Discovery a shitty album: there's no such need, I just swear a lot (at times). Shitty is quite a mild word in my book.

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