There’s a scene in a film called ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ where one of the characters is trying to describe her take on the term ‘Sexy Ugly’; Where you see someone who doesn’t prescribe to that classical beauty but has this certain something that just ticks your box.
The same can be said of voices. There’s certain people I can listen to talking for hours. No attraction, just the way they sound, or the way they describe things, the way they hold themselves, something that maybe not everyone gets.
I ended up on facebook, wasting time as per, and discussing music that does that. Certain singers whose voices are like warmed honey. Might not work for everyone else but hey, taste is a strange thing….mine particularly so some would say.
I put together a YouTube playlist which has some songs on it that fall in to the Aurally pleasing, but doesn’t do much for me in any other way….
I wanted to go in to my choices in a little more detail….
1. Crosses – Telepathy. This wasn’t actually my choice but this song is what started the conversation. I do agree with my friend Daisy though that Chino Moreno very definitely has this otherworldly beauty going on with his voice but I really don’t need to look at him for it to work…..there was something about blindfolds….which could get wrong pretty quickly!
2. Puscifer – Momma Sed. Been a big fan of Maynard for many years, since I was about 16/17 but it was never physical for me. He had this quiet menace in his voice as part of Tool, and brooding gothic quality in A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer are a different breed altogether but there is still something in his voice and it matters not what style he sings in.
3. She Wants Revenge – Tear You Apart. Bad choice of song. The lyrics are teenage angst and I should know better. There are better choices but there was an immediate connection to this the first time I heard it, the rest grew over time. My better self always fights against obvious lyrical content; I could have really scraped the bottom of the barrel and put some NIN or Stabbing Westward in the list and go back to 17 year old Kate but 34 year old Kate is like, seriously, ‘Closer’ worked for you back then?! Are you insane?! Obviously sexual overtones don’t work anymore and don’t really need to, but Justin from SWR singing ‘ I’m going to fucking tear you apart’ has a certain quality to it 😉
4. Einstürzende Neubauten – Sabrina. Oh Blixa. Old enough to be my Dad – way past Silver Fox, more dodgy uncle! I could listen to him sing for hours, and in his native language (German) it’s even better. I like the imagery in this video as well as it describes perfectly the sound of something so beautiful coming out of something considered ugly.
5. Faith No More – Evidence. Mike Patton crosses the divide. Hot. End of story! However, I prefer older Mr Patton to younger, and he has strange hair here. I actually like the slicked backed hair, white suit look he has a tendency towards in his Mondo Cane guise.
6. Gil Scott-Heron – I’ll take care of you. OK the lyrics appeal to my occasionally overly emotional dappy side! It’s all tugging on the heart strings rather than melting knicker elastic at 20 paces. I listened to this album a lot after an ugly “break up” (I use the term lightly) and there was a warmth there that I was attracted to, and it helped a lot at the time.
7. Ah Cama-Sotz – Your Darkest Soul. So you know I mentioned obvious lyrical content….yeah…in this case. Works. Every. Time! This isn’t even singing, it’s spoken word, out and out filth. No mucking around!
8. Pulp – I Spy. Jarvis Cocker. Nope. Never got it. Ever. Until I heard this song. There’s something about the sheer vitriol in his voice, the willingess to destroy something else, just to get one over. Very personal revenge. And there’s a certain danger there which is ever so captivating.
9. Arthur H – Mystic Rhumba. Who knew French Jazz would work for me? it’s unusual, granted, but this man oozes charisma. I saw him a few years ago performing at a special Tom Waits performance alongside The Tiger Lillies, Camille O’Sullivan and St. Vincent amongst others. He sang ‘Walking Spanish’ and he brought the characters of the song in to life. He was just stunning and I started listening to his music straight away. Maybe it’s the slight lilt to his accent. I don’t know, but I won’t forget that performance ever.
10. Woodkid – Conquest of Spaces. Another Frenchman. And again, someone who excels in a live setting. ‘The Golden Age’ has been on near constant rotation since I got it last year and i could listen to it over and over, but live, he has this amazing energy, yet is so humble that you warm to him immediately. Physically not bad to look at, but nothing heart swoony by any means, that voice and energy though is a hard thing to shake off.
There’s loads more I could add to the list, but I had to get this all down as I find it interesting; the clash of beauty in unexpected guises and forms. I’ve always been drawn to that though – obvious beauty is never that interesting…well maybe fleetingly, but the interesting stuff comes from unexpected places, and finding that in music is an interesting distraction.
Are there any more you would add to the list? If so, what would they be?