By JUDE PERL. I first heard of Justin Timberlake’s new album, The 20/20 Experience, from a YouTube link my bass player sent me of the album release party. I was really excited to hear the track, Let The Groove Get In, which features a full band of around 20 musicians and singers on stage.
Whereas most pop stars of Timberlake’s stature hide the band or use backing tracks, Timberlake is singing live and the band interaction is so exciting and contagious.
Singing live on albums was commonplace a few decades ago, but these days everything goes through computers and pitch-correction programs.
When I teach private students piano and singing, sometimes all I want to achieve is to get their ears to appreciate music pre-2002.
For kids who only listen to auto-tuned voices, Disney channel pop stars, over-produced and over-perfected “live” performances to the point where hardly anything “human” is left, listening to early Beatles recordings, Otis Redding or even Stevie Wonder is an uncomfortable experience.
I can’t count the number of times students have heard a song on Glee, wanted to learn it, and when I show them the original version of the song, they don’t even know what to make of it.
More often than not, the sound of a live band and an untainted voice is actually so alien to some kids that they immediately reject it. How can you possibly appreciate the delicious and nourishing taste of all the fruit and vegetables when you’ve only ever eaten fairy floss?
This is one reason why I get so excited when a “human” sounding recording sells millions of albums today, such as Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience and Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.
It’s the same reason why Adele’s 2011 album 21 was so important in helping a technologically advanced Gen Y digest the sound and depth of a full band and real voice.
In a way, it comes down to understanding the beautiful tradition of playing music together, and how important each instrument is in creating a unique performance that can connect with an audience.
I know my ideals on music are perhaps old fashioned, and of course there has been so much wonderful music created from computers or synthesisers.
It’s just nice to know techno superstars Daft Punk and pop sensation Timberlake can employ the philosophy of a, perhaps, more genuine time in music, where a computer couldn’t fix your mistakes and you simply had to have musicianship in spades.
And instead of lip-syncing live performances, you had to share a heartfelt song with the audience and band each time you stepped on the stage. In my view, this is really the way music should be performed. Live and untainted.
Good music is timeless. There’s nothing more exciting than turning on Top 40 radio in 2013 and hearing the legendary Nile Rodgers, nearly four decades from when he started churning out disco hits with Bernard Edwards (most famous for their band Chic), playing his unique funk guitar riff. It’s amazing that, after almost four decades, the same sound and vibe is still contagious and impressive to the masses.
Singer-songwriter Jude Perl, 24, has been performing professionally in Melbourne for the past five years. She has a music degree from Monash University and last year released a five-track EP of original soul-funk-pop tunes titled 3am, which includes her first single Girls & Boys.