Monday, October 22, 2007
Here's (above)one of my all-time favorite music videos, the Exciters singing "Tell Him." Assuming that I'm right, and this is as good as I think it is, then what makes it so good?
Well, of course Brenda Reid had a great voice and the song and arrangement was perfect. Reid had soul, no doubt about it, and she sings with utter sincerity. Maybe she had a background in gospel.
When you have a song this bouncy it must be tempting to play it 100% as a dance song as this singer (above) did on American Idol. She does a nice job but she comes off as shallow. Reid makes us feel the point of the song at the same time she plays it for entertainment. In her version the rhythm reinforces the point.
The song is about how colossal and majestic love is. When you have it, drop everything and embrace it because nothing else is more important. That's a powerful statement. You can't convincingly make that point with a second-rate song.
And such a song has to be something that makes people tap their feet, something that's social and reminds people how much they need other people, how much they delight in being with other people. The song warns us that our kind of creature can't be happy unless we give ourselves up to overpowering emotions like love and lust.
Actually, I've always thought of animation this way. You need a central assumption to tell a good cartoon story. Maybe the assumption is something as simple as "It's great to be alive!" If that's what you want to convey then you can't do it with a second-rate story or second-rate cartooning. It has to be the best you can do, otherwise the medium is fighting the message.
Posted by Eddie Fitzgerald at 11:29 PM