GAME OVER – Try again?

I recently stumbled over the realization that I know several songs titled “Game Over”. In itself this is neither unusual nor in any way exciting, but then I came to think about those two words’ versatility. “Game Over” can mean that something, in most cases a relationship (thanks to Pop music…), is over; that the game of life is – or will soon be – over for someone (which makes the title particularly popular among rappers and would-be gangsters); that one is victorious while the other has failed. I grew curious and went on a journey through the world wide web. This is what I found…

 

Machine Head – The song “Game Over” features the Thrash Metal band’s latest record “Bloodstone & Diamonds” (2015). Its lyrics appear to hint at the band’s breakup with and the end of a friendship to their longtime bass player Adam Duce, but also object rather generally to the notion that life is a game:

And you say that life is just a game and

Everyone who plays is just a pawn

And shame on me it went so long

How could I’ve been so wrong?

I’ve forever gone colder

If life is just a game then Game over

Skindred – The energetic song “Game Over” by the British Ragga Metal heroes is part of their album “Union Black” (2011) and comprised of a wild, stomping beat, clear singing (Benji Webbe at his best) and weirdly cool electronic elements. In 2011, the song was part of a Metal Hammer compilation, which is where I first made contact with Skindred and fell irreversibly in love. Another game, another fight:

You play the game the aim to win, to whip the smile right off ya face

For he who fights and runs away, will live to fight another day!

Game over! Pass the control

Game over! Pass the control

You’re done dead already and you got to move over

Game over! Pass the control!

 

A Life Divided – The German Synth Rock band has been touring with Industrial Rockers Oomph!, Eisbrecher and supported Apocalyptica. “Game Over” is part of their 2013 record “The Great Escape”.

 

Insolence – A very freaky intro to their version of “Game Over” gives credit to the various influences the band incorporate into their Nu Metal.

 

Nuclear Assault – Dan Lilker founded the band after leaving Anthrax in 1984. Even though for him the game thus was far from over, the single “Game Over” features the album of the same title that appeared in 1986. No singing, this time…

 

You want to get less metallic? Try these:

Solid Pop/ rock from Last Amanda.

Veeeery strange: Hadouken!

Rap-HipHop-Dubstep, fast, faster, fastest: McFee.

Sweet, really: VV Brown. There’s also a version without the megaphone…

Game over in it’s original sense, plus weird and funny: Dj Mad Dog.

 

GAME OVER – Wanna try again?

Dvořák: Songs my Mother taught me

Fascinated with the music of his homeland former Bohemia (today Czech Republic) and its inhabitants, the composer Antonín Dvořák in 1880 created a cycle of songs, the so-called “Gypsy Songs”. Particularly famous among these is the melody of “Když mne stará matka zpívat učívala“ (“Songs my Mother taught me”). Although the original version was written for voice and piano only, many orchestral versions circulate. I especially like this record with the German-born Slovak soloist Patricia Janečková, who by the way was only 15 years old when this video was shot:

 

For the piano version starring Edita Gruberova open your ears right now:

 

Outsider Section: Adamo

The topic of my last post inspired me to introduce to you an alternative musician who has not only written love songs and amusing chansons, but also created lyrics conveying deep thought wrapped in amazing metaphors. The all-rounder Salvatore Adamo was born in 1943 to Italian parents in Belgium. Inspired perhapy by his mixed cultural upbringing, Adamo did not only compose and sing in French, but also in English, German, Italian, Spanish and Turkish, writing and translating all of his lyrics himself.

Up to 2014 the singer has published 33 studio albums. His song “Diese Welt ist ein Jahrmarkt“ (1971, translated: “This world is a funfair“) sounds lighter than it actually is: Adamo compares our lives to a funfair during which we all need to struggle through the funambulation of our youth, let us be lead by others like marionettes and suffer manipulation. Enjoy his thoughtful words and a wonderful chanson:

Heavy Halleluja

As previously claimed in this blog, a distinct heaviness is indisputably inherent in a wide variety of  classical music. Have a choir of 50 onstage, percussions, several basses, a heavy set of cellos, and tubas – the atmosphere will make your hair stand on end!

Georg Frideric Handel as painted by Balthasar Denner in 1726 to 1728

Georg Frideric Handel as painted by Balthasar Denner in 1726 to 1728

A master of dramatic shows and powerful melodies was German Baroque composer Georg Friedrich Händel, who was born in 1685 and settled permanently in London in 1712, adopting the name George Frideric Handel. Aged 56, Handel created his world-famous oratorio “Messiah”, which was completed with biblical lyrics. An extensive musical concert piece employing choir and soloists next to an orchestra is called ‘oratorio’. Although the soloists often impersonate particular (musical) characters, they are neither costumed nor do they act in any way but by song. Handel’s “Messiah” premiered in Dublin on the 13th of April 1742 and today is one of the most popular choral works of Western origin. It mostly reflects on Jesus Christ’s role as Messiah and is therefore preferably played around Christmas time. The most influential and famous melody of Part II is its closing sequence, “Hallelujah”. Since I have been listening to it during a church concert yesterday, I have been longing to share with you this great and festive melody.

For Christmas I give you “Hallelujah” as performed by the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien (ORF radio symphonic orchestra of Vienna), the Wiener Singakademie (singing academy of Vienna) and the Wiener Sängerknaben ( Viennese boy’s choir) in 2010.

 

I wish you all a relaxing, peaceful and happy Christmas and hope you thoroughly enjoy the New Year’s celebrations!

Outsider Section – Popcorn

Of course non-Heavy Metal musicians have produced instrumentals as well. A very famous, purely electronic instrumental is Hot Butter’s “Popcorn” (1972), a cover version of the original instrumental by Gershon Kingsley (1969). The German-American composer Kingsley pioneered in electronic music and extensively used the analog Moog synthesizer to create exceptional music. Just compare both versions of the song. The link at the bottom leads to a beautiful piano version of the song, played by 85-year-old Gershon Kingsley himself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZWfywvuHt0

 

Outsider Section: Tracy Chapman

The artist Tracy Chapman is famous, yet not quite much with metalheads, I daresay. Tracy Chapman is an American singer and songwriter, who debuted in 1988, playing a mixture of folk, blues, pop and soul. She has a powerful voice that can both comfort and agitate. Out of her range of seven records, I especially enjoy her last three albums “Let It Rain” (2002), “Where You Live” (2005) and “Our Bright Future” (2008). Next to her musical career, Chapman is engaged in various projects of social and political activism, standing up against racism, heteronormativity and the suppression of human beings.

Watch Tracy Chapman perform “Another Sun” (from “Let It Rain”) live. Isn’t this a beautiful voice?

Outright critical is “Mountains o’ things” (from “Tracy Chapman”, 1988):

By the way, Chapman once played a cover version of Nirvana’s “Come as you are” live onstage in 2005. Curious?

Outsider Section – Menestrel

Due to enormous lack of time in a busy exam period I was forced to break my promise and did not provide any un-Metal pearls for you at all during the past weeks. Today, however, I had a very inspiring experience I want to share with you. I was in the city centre for some trivial errands when my ears were surprised by beautiful sound amidst all the city noise: a quartet were playing classical string music. Three violins, a cello and a handful of well-known classical melodies were enough to attract a small crowd of listeners, who were not only generous in their donations (which in itself is a phenomenon atypical for Germans) but even enthusiastic enough to applaud. I enjoyed their wonderful sound for twenty minutes, then went for a chat. The group is called Menestrel (an allusion to minstrels, medieval European Bards) and originates from Ukraine, where all members have graduated from the national music academy in Lwow (Lemberg) and have played together since 2001. Just now I am listening to their magical record comprised of music by Bach, Pachelbel, Strauss, Mozart, Brahms, Khachaturian and many more. When it comes to classical music, I really enjoy mixed albums uniting works of various artists long gone. If you try some classics, you’ll be surprised how many melodies you already know! Just take this one: Johann Sebastian Bach’s air of the “Suite No. 3 in D major”:

An air, often referred to as “aria” (the italian term), is a certain song form. It is generally composed like a vocal song, but can be purely instrumental. Airs are often smaller movements within a larger composition, as is the case with the above-mentioned Bach air. This air, by the way, is one of the three most popular arias. Another one is Bach’s theme of the “Goldberg Variations“ (“Goldberg Variationen”). It has been used, albeit alienated, in a “Hannibal” film I could not find much information on. Listen to the entire work if you like, and to the Hannibal-version as well:

Georg Frideric Handel’s “Suite in F Major” – the air of his famous “ Water Music” (“Wassermusik”) – is the third popular air:

By the way: next to Bach’s or Handel’s works you often find an abbreviation and a number. BWV stands for Bach Works Catalogue (Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis), whereas HWV means Handel Works Catalogue (Händel-Werke-Verzeichnis).

There’s a world to discover in every song…