06 December 2011

Jazz noir

Amidst all the Britnies and Justins we have forgotten all about it. What makes for really good music? It's quite simple, really. A really good singer and a really good song.
But then there's a whole different brand of music. Which secret ingredient sets such music appart from really good music? We don't know. We only know how to recognise it: we find it irresistable. Play it again, Sam... A person dear to me finds 'Back It Up' to be such irresistable music.
Indeed, the song and the singer fit the bill. Caro Emerald, a Dutch conservatory trained jazz vocalist, is a really good singer. And the song, written by David Schreurs and Vince Degiorgio, is a really good song.
There is that rare chemistry there between the singer and the song, too: apparently, it took only one take. The song even has a cinematic quality to it. As you listen, Humphrey Bogarts are hiding at every corner.
And as for the secret ingredient... Ever since the single came out in 2009, the listeners do exactly as the song instructs: they back it up and do it again. Even the lyrics read as a manual for manic listeners:

Gimme some of that funky
The kind that the Duke used to play
And make it more swingy

And then give me some hornay
You know the bub-pu-pa bub-pu-pa-bay
Come on, give it to me
Hmmm hmmm

Slam that bass and make it sing
Give those strings that rip 'n zing
You know zactly what I came here for
Back it up and do it again

I believe this song is one of the most cleverly crafted songs I've come accross.
As one reviewer has put it: Caro finds her charm in a fairly obvious way; she takes the heart-pounding, smoky-lounged, crowd-whistling side of jazz and makes that the backbone of her music. In other words, Caro gave center stage to jazz I call 'jazz noir', vocal jazz from the movies that always feels like guilty pleasure... Hollywood jazz forever associated with bar noise, smoking, femme fatalles and men with hats. Hats off to Caro.

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