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Example - 'Two Lives'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:45 UK time, Tuesday, 16 November 2010


There's definitely a thesis to be written about the way in which singers and rappers check that their microphone is working during the musical introduction to a song. For the singers, it's often a hummed little vocal improvisation, something that asks the listener to make themselves ready for the throatal devastation which is about to commence.

For the rapper, it can be a good opportunity to say their name, which marks the song with their scent in much the same way that a wolf will wee in a circle around its territory. Producers, desperate to get in on this, have even had special jingles made to put on any song they've worked on, so that everyone knows they did it.

In this song, Example has taken the art to a whole new level - or more accurately, a whole new sub-level - with a bleary trampish cough. He's not even really clearing his throat or making ready to commence with the song. It sounds more like he didn't realise the 'record' light was on, and had a little grunt to himself, in the way that a lot of men do when they're left to their own devices.

(Here's the video. It's not often you see a pop star with a watch on.)

Luckily, it all adds to the charm of a song which is torn between trying to be this very honest cry for help and a cheeky admission that it's hard to find the room in your heart to love someone else when you're basically amazing.

You might recognise that "two lives" refrain from 'Empire State of Mind', cos it's more or less the same two notes as Alicia's chorus. But the fact that the song doesn't feel like a lesser light just because the rest of the melody doesn't follow suit is a mark of how melodically smart it turns out to be.

And that dual tempo thing is pretty grand too. Slow in the verses, pounding in the chorus. Why, it is almost as if Example has decided to make the music match the split personality of which he sings. Actually, it's probably exactly that.

Thinking about it, that's probably what that cough is about too. Make a noise like you've just woken up out of focus, and people won't expect your song to be sharp, which makes the fact that it IS sharp all the more startling.

Or maybe it's just a cough.

Four starsDownload: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

Salacious Sound says: "Example can not only write a love song with the best of them."

Stereoboard says: "The new style of electro/pop suits his voice down to the ground."



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