music, popular culture

My Fav Versions of I Will Survive.

The other night I took some time to watch the classic 1994 camp film ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ with one of my favourite songs portrayed in the scene below.

Like I have noted before, the best way for me personally to get a song stuck in my head is to do some more investigation into pop music history. (And play the song over and over until I get bored or the neighbours will threaten me with an eviction.)

The original song performed by the legendary Gloria Gaynor (above) has been covered by many in the duration of the past 40 years. Thanks to the compilation video I found (below), I don’t have to post all of the different versions here.

We even have our own cover version in Finnish called ‘Oon voimissain’, published a year after the international version. Originally performed by Virve ‘Vicky’ Rosti in 1979, the translated lyrics and strong vocals pretty much sums up the original story (only in the Finnish context).

The Finnish lyrics asks if the man who dumped her ‘can’t remember how you left laughing?’ and how she ‘gathered all of her strength in order not to die’ out of the initial shock and heart break that his sudden departure caused her to go through.

Notice the way in the performance (video below) how the more the ex-in-a-suit removes his belongings around her, the more emancipated she becomes with the newly gained space around her. This woman grows from the experience of having to passively watch from the side how her loved one packs and leaves into owning her own space with dancing and being to sit on her own chair.

The end result is rather victorious; if he doesn’t voluntarily drop the intentions of getting back together and leave, she is even ready and willing to throw him ‘out into the cold winter freeze’ (which in Finland is actually a relatively horrifying scenario). Way to go, girl!

Moving on to the actual subjective part of this post: which of all of these covers is my personal favourite – and why. To be honest, nothing (for me) can beat the original disco classic, but in my opinion there’s always room for new interpretations for a fresh remake of the song.

And I have to admit listening to this emancipatory anthem at least a couple of times a week. Blame marketing etc. but the version of Demi Lovato pops up in the search results every time on Spotify. Without knowing a lot about the singer and her previous career, I actually really think she nailed it in this version – originally used in the 2016 Angry Birds film.

The three versions mentioned above were the ones I had acknowledged before making this post. The case with pretty much every big song is that they most probably are covered a million times in all kinds of reality-TV singing competitions all around the world.

Out of all the versions found on YouTube, this one really caught my attention. There is something really raw and deep in the timbre of the voice of a competitor in The Voice Portugal 2016, Laura Vargas. I especially love the way she starts the first part of the song, before the rest of the live band joins in the party.

The version performed by Nils Landgren (below) is one of the covers performed by male vocals. As much as I enjoyed it, I have to be wondering: what does all the pictures of the beautiful models have to do with the actual song and its historically important message to women?

Despite of the fact that the quality of the video below doesn’t perhaps match the standard level of even slightly popular Youtubers these days, I somehow found the performance really refreshing and original after listening to (vocals starting around 2:50) countless people who are trained and trying to sing as flawlessly as possible.

In my opinion, this style of performing really suits this song; the singer Petra Magoni succeeds in passing on the feelings of feminist emancipation. Of course, someone in the comments section calls the performance as ‘a cruel torture for a great song’ but in my opinion they did something different and rather unique – and that is something that should be valued. Perhaps it has also something to do with the culturally constructed social norms of the ways the majority of people still think women should sing…

On a side note, I think that it is not only possible but even likely that Destiny’s Child song ‘Survivor’ from the year 2001 has been inspired by ‘I Will Survive’. And surprise surprise – the two songs have been combined in a mash-up at least as early as 2011 on the television show ‘Glee’s’ third season.

However, the version below was the first mash-up that I came across with; performed in the reality-show ‘Rising Star Indonesia’ by the 17-year-old-competitor Talita Arsyta. I think it was a pretty good show!

(Finally also Gloria Gaynor herself with the powerful background choir sang a mash-up of the two songs at the 21st National Television Awards back in January 2016.)

After multiple days of torturing my dog, my neighbours, and a little bit myself too, I finally think that I am done with this song… for some while!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and please feel free to give me suggestions if you have any ideas of the next song I should cover! (Not like record a cover and put it here but… you probably got what I meant!)

Yours,

Miah

alternative, music, popular culture

The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here?

Check out my latest discovery in the music world. I’ve been a major fan of the grunge band Alice In Chains since the 8th grade when I saw a music document about the band’s early years in the 90’s. However I had rarely gotten familiar with the band’s latest production – not until now when the 2013 album ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’. As a fan of somewhat surrealist titles there was no way I would have passed such a captivating phrase! And what I found, was pretty much gold for a critic like me.

I am wise and you don’t know
A cloud is my home
Only some get in
Got imaginary friend
The devil put dinosaurs here
Jesus don’t like a queer
The devil put dinosaurs here
No problem with faith just fear

I personally don’t have problems with any known religion – as long as they are based on love, understanding, tolerance and free will. In other words, it’s not Christianity itself but some of the ways especially the patriarchy has been interpreting and guiding it since the early years of its formation. In my opinion, every text should be read and interpreted in its temporal context. What you decide to take from the meaning with you, is always a personal choice where your own personal background affects. Of course, people like my grandfather, who sadly have been told since their early childhood that for example being homosexual is a sin, hardly won’t drop their beliefs even if the surrounding culture has changed into a more tolerant direction. And I get that even though I cannot fully accept it.

Yours,

Miah

Finland, music, popular culture

California Blue in Finnish is No Good!

After the new found passion for the works of Chris Isaak, I stumbled upon Roy Orbison on Spotify. California Blue is one of the tunes framing my early childhood in the Finnish countryside. I didn’t actually realize that the successful album ‘Mystery Girl’ was released as late as 1989 (just a couple of months after Orbison passed away, sadly). I somehow connected Orbison to the early sixties – which was the commercial peak of his career, indeed.

Lately I have absolutely fallen for Orbison’s unique and soft voice that is ageless and somehow very passionate, yet in the most respectable way. Also, based on his shy charisma, Orbison seems like a super nice and sympathetic person. (Correct me if I am wrong.)

Here’s the lyrics of the hit ‘California Blue’ – which seems like rather a contradictory title since California seems like a warm and exotic place. Definitely something you’d go spend your honeymoon or start your family life in. Being blue on the other hand feels rather cold – like a winter night or a thick blanket of glittering snow? How can you be depressed and sad in place with almost a tropical climate, though?

California blue

Dreaming all alone

Nothing else to do

California blue

Everyday I pray I’ll be on my way

Saving love for you

California blue

One sunny day

I’ll get back again

Somehow, some way

But I don’t know when

California blue

California blue

However, the Finnish lyrics for the song pretty much ruin everything for me. I’m not a linguist but I tried to make a direct translation of the  for you below:

In the time of full moon

Underneath the ash tree

You stand by my side

You belong only to me

Do you remember the secret island?

And the kiss

We did it

Underneath the ash tree

In the time of the full moon

Not to mention the singer Kari Tapio’s victorious emphasis on the fact that they completed the deeds. OMG. Sounds like penetrative heteronormative outdoor sex in a romanticized and exoticized surroundings to me.

Where the meaning of the original English version is tied to Orbison’s gentle voice singing about his sadness (and fidelity) over the distance for the significant other, the Finnish version is basically about a bored, wear-out worker’s lust for sex. Good job in translating the romance, dudes!

Yours,

Miah

Finland, music, popular culture, Russia, traveling, vlog

Russian Punk in My Home Town.

A small disclaimer in the beginning… This post was originally scheduled to be published right after my small adventure in my home town. If you haven’t read that, you can find it from here. However, as I ended up doing a small flaneur in Porvoo, the picture material just seemed to be too juicy not to be published immediately. Hence the Porvoo trilogy mixing up the timelines. (Any other science fiction fans out there?)

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Anyway, the story goes like this: I decided, on a very spontaneous base as usual, to pay a visit to my home town’s independent music and event scene after I learned that there’s going to be some Russian punk performed! I’ve been volunteering in the venue before at the small vegan cafe corner but this time I was a bit more focused on photographing the event for you, guys. (Not to say that I would’ve in any way neglected the sacred coffee-making responsibilities.) I was even more astonished to hear that the band was actually from the same small Russian town I used to live as an exchange student for a while!

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Here are the Scrap Monsters!

I also took some video footage that I sent to the band as well. Such a sweet Russian punk boys they were – even reusing each other’s plastic cutlery because they didn’t want to make any extra costs or waste! I also enjoyed the chance to practise my Russian even though my abilities kinda declined as I got more tired throughout the night. Sorry about that, guys…

Here’s also some video footage of the venue called ‘Kulttuuritallit’ (direct translation would be ‘Cultural Stables’). I think I will do a more in-depth post about the place and its rather significant history later… Anyway, I absolutely love love love the place with its free anarchistic community-oriented spirit!

Sorry for the inconvenient video files: I only took the raw material straight out of my phone so it is what it is. At least it gives you some perspective of the experience! What did you think about the post; would you be interested in visiting ‘Cultural Stables’ or even perform there yourself? We are welcoming all kinds of alternative bands (as long as you’re not a Neo-nazi of any sort). Please let me also know if you liked me to do more music posts about the upcoming events in ‘Cultural Stables’! It’s always a pleasure for me to visit there and help them out so you guys being interested would only give me a good reason to plan some more trips…

Yours,

Miah

daily blog, music, popular culture

All the Solitary Men Stuck in My Head.

You know the time when you suddenly remember a good song or find a new one which you quickly become absolutely obsessed over? Eventually you end up banging your head in the desperate hopes of getting rid of the melody that has been haunting you night and day – in the worst case for weeks on end. ‘Solitary Man’ has been my latest musical torture, and it all started just over a week ago. Now I am going to pass the pain forward by introducing possibly the three best-known versions recorded of the song.

And as a Finn and a die-hard fan of HIM, I am going to start with this version. Now, judge me or not but I actually thought ‘Solitary Man’ was their original song until a couple of years back… Whoops, my bad! Anyway, this version was published in 2004 in the compilation album ‘And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997–2004′. The music video was directed by Bam Margera, American professional skateboarder and friend of the lead singer of HIM, Ville Valo.

Apparently, as I quickly learned, the original version is written by the singer and song-writer Neil Diamond, published back in 1966. In my opinion, the lyrics resonate the shy-but-artistic kinda vibe of a passionate but relatively conservative romanticist in the beginning of a rebellious post-modern era when planning a life with one and only partner can be considered going against the rebellion amongst the youth?

For me, the representation of shallow love as a ‘paper ring’ is the most ingenious verse of the whole song. An engagement and/or wedding ring considered as the circular never-ending symbol of love and commitment thus becomes intentionally downplayed by the fact that paper as a material is very fragile and thin. If you give someone a paper ring as a promise of a future together, even the symbolic object will most likely will rip apart before you know it. Traditionally (for example in Finland and in the United States) people who are celebrating their first anniversary is said to have ‘paper wedding’ which, in the contemporary context, could be linked to the fact that half of the marriages last less than one year.

I’ve had it to here
Bein’ where love’s a small word
Part-time thing, paper ring
I know it’s been done
Havin’ one girl who’ll love me
Right or wrong, weak or strong

Don’t know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who’ll stay
And won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man, solitary man

On the other hand, the song with its meaning is still as relevant in 2018 than it was 50 years ago. As long as there is people that believe in one true life-lasting love, I guess? I’m just speculating that it must take a lot of devotion and tons of hard work to maintain and grow your love for another person. At least if there are no forms of violence involved, it must pay off at the end of the day.

Actually, from all these versions the one that pleased me the most was performed by Chris Isaak – the king of the 90’s rockabilly falsetto. Of course I had heard of him and some of his songs before but his just happened the time his music really hit me close home.

And now I am listening to the album ‘San Francisco Nights’ on Spotify all day long, to the point where it has begun to affect my style of clothing as well. I have to admit buying lately a lot of clothing items that match my preferred version of rockabilly-style summer clothing from Finnish online auctions… Let me know if you’d be interest for me to do a haul of what I got!

Interestingly, the original Chris Isaak song ‘Wicked Game’ was the cover hit that first brought HIM into the pop/rock charts. Hence, the circle is completed… Coincidence – I think not! Please let me know what’s the one song that has been stuck in a loop in your head (and how you got rid of it)?

Yours,

Miah