Musical migrations

So after I slagged off Virgin Radio here, our kitchen radio struggled to stay tuned in to the station. It’s like the station had the hump with me, and didn’t want to play any more. The tuning kept migrating into static, or other stations. So I gave up, and wandered around the dial until I heard a palatable tune, and the radio’s stayed tuned to 102.7FM pretty much every since.

This is Ram Power, whose tagline is “Un successo del momento, un successo del passato”. I believe that means “A hit of the moment, a hit of the past”, or words to that effect. Not sure. It’s one of those frequent incidences where I know the words, but I’m not sure about their usage in this context.

Anyway, not only has this station been playing loads of 1980s music, transporting me back to my adolescence, albeit with cheesy numbers like Wham’s ‘Club Tropicana’ (a song that always makes me think of Center Parcs), alongside the cooler stuff like Propaganda’s ‘Duel’ (what a quality video; I particulary enjoy the amateur fight coordination towards the end) or Tears for Fears’ ‘Change’, it’s also, strangely, been winning me over with some of the contemporary Italian hits. Or so I thought.

The tune I was enjoying the most involved an Italian female singer and a male rapping in English. Although he sounded somewhat Eminem, he also sounded decidedly south of England. Thing is, as Ram Power is also a station that’s “senza chicchiera” (“without chat”), they never tell you what any of the songs are.

When, after four long months of Italian telecoms shenanigans, we finally got the internet, I was able to scour Ram Power and YouTube to actually find out what some of these song were, notably the Italian songs. Well, turns out the one I was particularly enjoying was, er, the UK number one, but, confusingly, an Italian version thereof. I’m talking about Prof Green’s ‘Read All About It’, released in the UK at the end of October 2011. In the UK it featured a chorus song by Emeli Sandé. I’d neither heard of him or her, for my ignorant sins, but in my defence, I’m both a bit old for most of the UK top 40, and that lack of real internet kinda left me cut off, with no access to internet radio etc.

(The Italian version; you might not be able to play it in the UK. Who knows. If it doesn’t work, maybe try this one.)

Anyway, confusingly, the track released in Italy featured Italian singer Dolcenera instead of Sandé.

And where Sandé sang:
“I wanna sing, I wanna shout.
I wanna scream till the words dry out.
So put it in all of the papers, I’m not afraid.
They can read all about it, read all about it, oh.”

Dolcenera sang:
“Faccio così, grido di più
Voglio che tu da lassù mi ascolti
E chi se ne frega se gli altri
Gli altri lo sanno
Non mi fai più paura
Non ho paura, no.”

Which really doesn’t mean the same thing. There’s no allusion to newspapers at all. In Italian, the song is still called ‘Read All About It’, but it has the subtitle ‘Tutto Quello Che Devi Sapere’ (“Everything that you should know”).

Now, again, I’m struggling translating this with my crap Italian. For a long time when  heard the song on the radio I thought Dolcenera was singing “Basta così”, which means “Enough of that”, but I can’t get my head around “Faccio così”. Faccio is the first person singular of fare, to do or to make, so it’s something like:
“I’m do that, I shout louder
I want you to hear me up there.
And who cares if the others,
The others, know it.
No I’m not afraid any more
No I’m not afraid. ”
[with a little help from Fran; though she can’t quite get it right either]

It’s an interesting situation – well, I’m interested me, at least in passing. I’m intrigued as to who decided an Italian version was necessary – it’s not like Italy is a big market, as it’s not like Italian is a significant language internationally like Spanish or Mandarin. A Spanish or Mandarin version would have made much more sense.

Does Professor Green have a big following in Italy? Dunno? Did Dolcenera like the tune? Dunno, but she certainly gives an emotive performance in the Italian video. Which is kinda odd given that the rap itself is comes across as very personal to Green – aka Stephen Paul Manderson – whose father committed suicide (something that seems to be reflected in the rap’s theme of paternal abandonment). Dunno though. So maybe it was just a decision by some suits at Virgin. Dunno.

There’s certainly something very corporate going on, as, in Italy, I cannot watch the original version’s official video, it has a region block or something (“The uploader has not made this video available in your country.”). I can only watch the official video for the Italian version. I’m guessing that, as with the song itself, the video has the alternate chorus spliced in.

Manderson’s rap is clearly very heartfelt, but once the song’s released, it, like everything in modern culture, becomes just a product, which can then be manipulated for deployment in a new market. As much as I like Dolcenera’s lyric, and her performance in the video is suitably agonised, it’s hard not to be cynical. Especially for a cynic like me. That said, I’m still enjoying the song. Both official versions; I reckon Dolcenera’s voice pips Sandé’s though, it’s slightly richer IMHO. Strangely, both singers sport a similar quiff.

My YouTube travels also threw up the earnest phenomenon of people covering ‘Read All About It’. Now, I really should be cynical about all this. I cannot abide the whole TV talent contest culture of needy wannabes being showered in glitter and pantomime abuse, but people just sticking low-fi recordings of themselves on YouTube is kinda sweet. Even if some of the amateur ones are awful.

This one, however, is sweet but also really proficient. It’s by a London pair with the uninspired name The Chain (Ben Parker and Kate Aumonier) showing off some lovely voices. They seem to be crowd-sourcing an album or something here too. They do another song that they refer to as “our version of their version of his version”, which kinda sums up this culture of covers, versions and t’interweb*. Though I’m still kinda confused by the region blocks; what tedious corporate control freakery that is.

 

 

* And is the sort of creativity that may be buggered if SOPA is passed in the US.

 

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