Thursday, November 18, 2004

Aiming for perfection...

ShakiraI am in my own way quite the music-snob. Owning over 800 CDs alone of many different genres I do believe I have developed quite a good taste in music. Despite owning such a huge number of albums and knowing probably ten fold that amount of albums, for me very few albums ever fit the label "perfect". In fact I think I can count those albums on one hand. Omitting many albums I love with the undying devotion a mother has for her children, and many classic albums from classic artists.

Yesterday I decided to extent this very exclusive personal list with an album I bought some time ago for just a few Euro's from a discount bin because "some songs on it sounded alright". And I know this choice will make all music-snob's cringle with disgust and forever make them look on me. And they are all.... wrong!

I am talking about Shakira's 'Laundry Service'. I know, within the musical circles I generally move about this is probably considered a crime. But I believe this is mostly founded on the popular image surrounding Shakira and her target audience. Not because anybody (including most of her fans) have really ever stopped to analyse her music.

Having the album on repeat for most of the day yesterday it suddenly hit me however. There is not one wrong song, not one wrong note, not one wrong vocal-line, there simply is not a single imperfection on this album. From song-writing to execution, to production that perfectly fits. The music is 100% perfectly tailored for it's intent. As such I can draw no other conclusion that this album is as such, perfect. Going along side albums such as Tori Amos's 'Little Earthquakes', Arcturus's 'La Masquerade Infernale', My Dying Bride's 'Turn Loose the Swans' (despite being totally bored with that album), Leonard Cohen's mighty 'The Songs of Leonard Cohen', Depeche Mode 'Music for the Masses', Iron Maiden's 'Dance of Death', Aimee Mann's 'Lost in Space', Miranda Sex Garden's 'Fairytales of Slavery', Skepticism's 'Lead and Aether', VNV Nation's 'Empires' and Limbonic Art's 'In Abhorrence Dementia' along side with a few more.

In the end I also realised it's not that surprising. 'Laundry Service' does not only mark the period when Shakira decided to dye her hair blond, translate her song to English and went off to conquer teen-land. It also is in a sense a best-off album, compromising the best of her song translated to English. Unlike other popular female pop-stars she does write her own lryics and music. And did so long before she got famous, being a perfectionist when doing so. Which amazingly showcases in for example that vocal-lines and lyrical structure could easily be transferred from Spanish to English.

The lyrical topic's also seem much more down to earth then most of her contemporaries. The lyrics much more focusing on small idea's, and insecurity in relationships (much like Dido) then the slick-written-over-the-top lyrics of her peers (clearly written by professional song-writers, regurgitating the same idea's over and over again). Even a song like 'Underneath your clothes', which lyrically most resembles a typical pop-song as such retains it's endearing factor. Not to mention we need more female vocalists who sing about being proud to have small breasts and that men should stop focusing on breast size (I counted two songs where she does that). You go girl!

So while I know no music-snob will ever take me serious anymore (if they ever did), Shakira for me proudly enters the selected few who have recorded a perfect album. Not "nearly perfection" as so many artists I love, but perfect.

Note: when talking about perfect albums I only look at contemporary music (of this and the past century). Classical music is to much in a league of it's own to compare to contemporary musical genre's and the number of perfect compositions there are too numerous to mention.

Disclaimer: I know my list does not include many classic's. This is because I do not consider the two to be the same. Black Sabbath's S/t, most of Led Zeppelin's early albums, early Pentagram, Deep Purple, etc. the list of classic's continues to pile up into the hundreds as far as I am concerned, and they do not by definition are "perfect". Perfect means not a single note might be off, the intent, atmosphere, emotions, everything fitting perfectly. As such "simple dance album" can be perfect, yet a ground-breaking classic can not. At least in my view.


At 3:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha! I know what you mean... But Shakira? Aldo, you've been playing Halo2 for far too long. :D

At 6:40 pm, Blogger Aldo Quispel said...

Like I said, music snob's won't understand ;) And unfortunatly my Wifi-network is still down.. so no Halo 2 online for me. The hardware is just broken... but no, I have to wait until they call me back tomorrow (yes I need to stay home an entire day waiting for their call) to confirm this... %^$#$%$%^&

At 6:42 pm, Blogger Aldo Quispel said...

I've actually had 'Laundry Service' on repeat for almost the entire time (save for a few of her older albums, and a bit of skyclad here and there) and the album still isn't bothering me or starting to get old.

At 3:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask your neighbour... maybe he is tired of it now :) .

At 9:05 pm, Blogger Aldo Quispel said...

I'm almost never home durring weekdays. It's at work or when driving. Plus my neigbour has been working in the UK for the past few month's so... :) At home I've more been listening to her older CD's.


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