Cover Battle – “Chim Chim Cheree” August 22, 2014
“Chim Chim Cheree” is a highlight of the Disney film Mary Poppins. It’s mostly sung by Dick Van Dyke, as a chimney sweep (Cockney accent? Not a success.) and the two little children accompanying him. Towards the end Julie Andrews joins in with Dick. (I didn’t mean that to sound dirty, but now that it does I’m gonna roll with it.)
In the song there’s a line “When there’s hardly no day , Nor hardly no night, there’s things half in shadow, And half way in light” that sounds, if not quite ominous, then at least a bit haunted or potentially disturbing. The version by Turin Brakes changes the tune from a light cheerful ditty to something darker and more serious. In this video version, we’re confronted with the face of homelessness. We look in the eyes of people we try to avoid and ignore and see that they’re human; just like us. The juxtaposition of the images with this happy, magical song from childhood is striking and takes you aback. I actually enjoyed this reworking. I think it’s quite wonderfully done. Please note: all proceeds from the sale of this song go to shelters in Amarillo, Texas and in the UK.
Next I have a version from the movie, Saving Mr. Banks, about the efforts it took to get Mary Poppins to the screen. It’s a lovely little piano piece, with a recitation from Colin Farrell , who plays the father of P.L. Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins.
Allan Sherman did a very funny parody lampooning the myriad number of products sold on tv.
Duke Ellington does an excellent take on this, adding horns, drum and big orchestration, without overpowering the piece. It’s very jazzy and truly elegant. The music ends around the 2:48 mark, but for some reason the vid continues on for over a minute more. This is the only one I found with just this song on it. There’s another YouTube hit for Ellington’s version but it has 4 other songs as well, and goes on for 15 minutes. So take your pick.
The Manheim Steamroller version is strictly instrumental. It starts out very creepy, then adds a sense of whimsy. It sounds like something that you’d hear on the soundtrack for a Tim Burton film. In that context it might be kind of cool, but just listening to it on the fly, it’s a little weird and a bit macabre.
In the hands of Esperanza Spalding this song is it’s virtually unrecognizable, though not in a bad way. It’s mostly instrumental with a little vocalization thrown in here and there. It sounds completely magical and she transforms it into high art.
Not too sure what to make of the last one here. It’s just a snippet, and it’s performed by comedian David Alan Grier, in the movie Amazon Women on the Moon. There’s even a B.B. King cameo. David’s part ends around the 3:55 mark. I’m not sure what’s going on with this movie but I think I might have to check it out.
#TVQUOTE July 6, 2014
FREDDIE (Sir Ian McKellan):
So who were you squawking at on the phone?
STUART (Sir Derek Jacobi):
Wha …! My mother, if you must know.
Was she calling to tell you when she’d be dying?
She was very distraught.
Why? Did you finally tell her about us?
I’m waiting for the right time.
It’s been 48 years!
… and there has not been a right time! Now please don’t pressure me, I’m very emotional already. We’ve had some frightful news: Clive is dead.
Your mother is always the first to know when someone dies. Is she getting the news directly from Satan?
Cover Battle – “How Will I Know” June 27, 2014
“How Will I Know” was Whitney Houston’s 3rd chart-topping single. The song is full of the excitement and wonder you feel when you like someone and it’s new and fresh and bubbly. Her amazing vocals, beauty, spark and charm were on full display in the song’s official music video. Whitney would continue to set the world on fire until her tragic death in 2012.
Pentatonix does a wonderful acapella version as a tribute to Whitney. They keep the same upbeat, joyous tempo and it keeps you in such a happy mood, that I can’t help but bop around dancing in my chair.
The song was covered by Kids Incorporated (????) as part of their 1980’s Disney Channel tv show. It’s … not for me. Very kiddie (duh!) and, I suppose, it’s cute. But – just not my thing. It’s annoying, to me. I mean, they’re not out of tune or overly screechy, but they’re not a group I would ever be interested in listening to again. But, then again, I wasn’t their target audience. Probably not even at that age. Frankly, I think it’s lame and a little bit dreadful.
The pop punk group Hit the Lights recorded this for their album Skip School Start Fights. While I’m not a music expert, this does not sound very punk at all. It is pop, though. (Maybe, elevator pop?) Frankly the band does not impress me at all, either. Kind of brings me back to lame and dreadful.
The cover by Sam Smith will break your heart. The arrangement is sparse and straightforward. The tempo is much much slower, and Sam has a high falsetto that is stunning and glorious.