Music to Dance to: Cee Lo, Alice Russell, Ninet Tayeb, and puppets!!

This entry really isn’t about dancing, but more music to sing to – i.e. POWER VOCALS.  While I have never been able to get into “American Idol” or the “X-factor”, I really enjoy the “Voice” at least with the original judges (Christina, Cee Lo, Blake, & Adam).  I just discovered the the Voice UK has Sir Tom Jones, so I may have to start watching some of that as well.  In either case, the judges can actually sing, look like they are having fun, and the contestants are pretty good too.  You still get the over-the-top emotional back stories, but it is really about the music in particular the blind auditions, one-one-one battles, and finally the choreographed audience voting.   My favorite judge has always been Cee Lo.  Not just because if his crazy cats, crazy fashion, and crazy expressions – but I’ve liked his music dating back to his collaborations with DJ Danger Mouse on Gnarls Barkley.  The song that made him famous was “Crazy” which the judges performed on the show (and later live) – and that is going to be today’s “Song of the Day”.

Cee Lo, Christina, Blake, and Adam sing “Crazy” live

Cee Lo is known for his crazy costume when performing on stage from Darth Cee Lo to a flamboyant peacock at the 2011 Grammys.  The later outfit is definitely inspired by Muppet-show era Elton John.

Cee Lo and Gwyneth Paltrow at the 2011 Grammys

I got to meet the Cee Lo and Danger Mouse when working on one of their music videos, “Who is going to save my soul?”, directed by Chris Milk.  The idea was to turn Cee Lo into a walking singing bleeding human heart just cut out by a distraught boyfriend.  It is a bit like the singing California Raisins except even more disturbing.  Our job was to record the distinctive shape of Cee Lo’s mouth in order to transfer it to the heart.   They showed up with their full entourage.  At one point I thought Cee Lo was gesturing wildly at me but it was just the girl behind me (she signed in as Tyra Banks, though I have my doubts).   Cee Lo was probably a little hung-over which is not the best thing when you are having bright lights right in your face.  Still what impressed me the most is that he is always on, and nearly always performs his songs in a single take.   You can see resulting scanned 3D lips below.

Cee Lo inside the Light Stage

Cee Lo inside the Light Stage

Later we also scanned the sculpted fake heart dripping with fake blood and even a real pigs heart as it looks very similar to a human one.    There is an official making of video here that shows more of the on-set effects.  Here you can see the final video with all its drama.  If you want you can skip ahead to 2:12 where it really gets weird.

Gnarls Barkley’s “Who is Going to Save My Soul?”

Now I wouldn’t be done until I mention some of my favorite covers with female vocalists.  I think the most impressive version is by another amazing singer, Alice Russell.  She is known for her collaborations with Mr Scruff (on a previous song-of-the-day) as well as the DJ Quantic.  There are multiple message board debates where people describe her as having a “black voice”.  Which just means there are a lot of really good black singers coming from a more gospel tradition.  She’s got some of that.

Alice Russell’s “Crazy” in Union Chapel, London

I came upon this second cover while riding in a taxi in Israel.  This is by Ninet Tayeb backed by Red Band, an rock band of puppets.  I think this song just NEEDS puppets.

Ninet Tayeb and Red Band’s “Crazy”

Red Band has their own TV show in Tel Aviv where they host many popular Isreali musicians.  You can watch their first episode or watch more of their songs on Youtube. It is as if Electric Mayhem were back together and on an international tour.  There is even an interview with Red Band on NPR’s “The World”.   Is it it even possible to go wrong with puppets?


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