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What Makes A Show A Show?

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:46 UK time, Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Just bear with me, this will be the last of the Chart Show Live posts for a bit, probably...

nelly_furtado_small.jpg One of the best things about going to Chart Show Live was getting the chance to watch five of the biggest pop acts in the world (no All Saints jokes please, they are on their way back, OK?) performing live, and spotting just exactly how they manage to get their on-stage music to sound as perfect and shiny as it does.

Now, before you rocksnobs get excited, this isn't going to be one of those tabloid exposes where an accusing finger is pointed at pop acts because they have the sheer gall to 'rip their fans off' with some pre-recorded elements to their live music. Frankly, that argument is daft, given the kind of perfection people expect from pop music, even live pop music, these days. And besides, it's the effect the song has on your ears that really counts, as we will soon see...


mcfly_small.jpg
McFly, being a proper rock band in all but 'indie credibility', have no truck with pre-recorded extras of any sort. Having said that, their harmonies have always had a rough and ready charm to them, so it's not like they had anything pristine and over-polished to aim at in the first place. They also score highly by being able to ROCK, like MUTHAS, and jump up and down and everything, safe in the knowledge than a little bit of huff and puff on the mic only adds to their stagecraft, and that the more the front row can see their pants as those skate-shorts slide down, the happier they are.

This also applies to Girls Aloud, but for different and more pervacious reasons. So, moving swiftly along...the next most-live artist at Chart Show Live was Nelly Furtado, who may have had a couple of pre-recorded bits and bobs going on (like the backing to 'Maneater', but not the 'Oh!' sample which runs through the whole song - that was live), but essentially was happy enough to let her very very good voice do the talking. The price she paid was that the icy cold frostypop of 'Promiscuous' didn't sound quite as brilliant in real life as it does on record. But then she did her acoustic version of Gnarls Barkely's 'Crazy' and everything was suddenly alright again.

Beyonce and All Saints both had the same set-up, in which a live band play out, with live singing too, but they're all synchronised to a backing tape so the best harmonies in each song (in the chorus, obv) will sound AMAZING. The most blatant of these two was the 'Yonce, as she didn't even have pretend backing singers behind her, and all of the voices you could hear were clearly hers, apart from Sean Paul, who wasn't there. But then she's no slouch in the singing department either, and she was definitely singing live herself, over the top of everything, so no-one cared.

The next level down was Girls Aloud, who were all singing live, but their band were miming. In some ways it was actually better, cos the backing tapes are dance-floor fillers in their own right, and the Aloud's raciest songs are all about the giddy rush of high-speed sexypop, rather than immaculate blocks of vocal harmonies. Horses for courses, see...

Peter and Katie Speaking of horses, Katie Price (she likes 'em, see...what did you think I meant?) and Peter Andre were a step below the Aloud, in that their music was on tape, but the introduction to their song was totally live - there's no way they could lip-synch that bickering anyway. And Peter definitely started off singing every note, but at some point, a suspicious element of perfection took over their rendtion of 'A Whole New World', even when Pete was moving about in the audience, nary a vocal wobble could be heard.

Things We Have Learned:

  • Live music is all about the warmth, if you want to be totally live AND brilliant, you have to have warm songs. Otherwise miming is better.
  • It's a good idea to try and get the volume of your live performance to be the same as the volume of your taped harmonies. This means YOU, All Saints...
  • Pop music is therefore not always best suited to live performance. This is not a crime. Or a deadly sin. Get over it.
  • Comments

    1. At 01:52 AM on 18 Nov 2006, James Gold wrote:

      HI GUYS, CHART BLOG LOOKS REALLY COOL, I LIKE IT A LOT.
      I JUST CHECKED OUT YOUR LINK TO WWW.POPREVENGE.COM - SO EXCITING THAT MICHAEL JACKSON PLANNING A BIG COMEBACK SHOW WITH DAIVD BLAINE - THAT SHOULD BE AMAZING, I LOVE JACKO.
      SURPRISED THE BBC HAVEN'T BEEN REPORTING ON THIS STORY, I GUESS IT IS NEW! SO EXCITED!

      KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK CHART BLOG X

    2. At 10:53 AM on 18 Apr 2007, Anonymous wrote:

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