Thursday, June 05, 2008

Aimee Mann's new album; Aimee Mann contest problem

The long-awaited (for me, anyway) Aimee Mann album @#%&*! Smilers is out, and I've just done my traditional reveal-the-lyrics-as-I-listen-for-the-first-time complete envelopment in the music. There are some devastatingly beautiful and (did you expect any different from Ms. Mann?) depressing lyrics.

I submit the first verse of "Phoenix":

Got out of Phoenix
Just in time
A box of Kleenex
For the ride
The tumbleweeds said
Their goodbyes
To javelinas
And DUIs

She had me at "Phoenix/Kleenex." And at the internal rhymes.

There are more challenging poems on this album than in much of her work of late, but it's all so amazingly singable. Some reviewers are calling this her best album yet (see this love letter). I don't think I can really go that far, since I have such a close personal relationship with Whatever, but I sure see why they believe it.

Warning: If you're within 5 years of age 31, you'd better invest in therapy before listening to "31 Today." Thank goodness I'm past that age range, or I'd be on the floor in the fetal position right now...

Anyway. On to the life challenge du jour.

There's a contest, you see, where the winner gets to sing with Aimee on stage at one of her concerts.

I have dreamed for years--while belting out background vocals in the car, mostly--that I on stage singing background for Aimee.

This is a little strange, I know, that I've never dreamed of being the headliner in a rock band. I always imagine myself doing background for an artist I totally adore. Ever see Elvis singing on Ed Sullivan? I never pictured myself as Elvis. I always imagined myself as one of the nerdy guys behind him. So to sing background on my favorite Aimee Mann songs--dare I hope for "That's Just What You Are," "Stupid Thing," or "I Know There's a Word"?--would be quite literally the thrill of a lifetime. It'd be spending an intense few minutes inside her poetry--in a way we can't do in the car.

The contest rules call for me to post to YouTube a video of me singing her kick-ass new song "Freeway."

Two severe problems.

1. How do I make my video stand out? I'm thinking of singing it on a nearby overpass...but I bet 20% of entrants do that. I could try to assemble me singing in a few different places, but I lack video editing software (or expertise). Any ideas?

2. Aimee Mann is always difficult for me to sing along with. Her range is such that I can't quite sing in her octave (too high on the high notes), but can't quite sing an octave below (too low on the low notes). In "Freeway," I can sing in Aimee's octave on the verses, but not on the chorus (not well, anyway). But it's background I want to sing. Do I sing along with Aimee on verses, then join Paul Bryan (yes, Brooklyn, that's really his name! Weird, huh?) on background vocals? That would show my ability to sing harmony. But it would also be a tad confusing, perhaps. Do I recruit a female singing friend to take melody on the chorus? I simply don't know what to do.

Gimmicks? Recommendations? Suggestions? Encouragement? I can use it all.

1 comment:

brooklyn said...

Haha, to think it takes two of us to make a "Paul Bryan"...

It's tough to stand out in these sorts of things. Too much gimmickry keeps you from being taken seriously, too little originality can get you overlooked.

In my experience the key is honest passion - being real, and making it totally your own. I'd suggest singing however makes you feel strongest, including jumping between octaves and switching between harmony and melody.

I don't know how busy I will be - but if you have any audio or video editing needs I'd be happy to do them for you in my studio here...