Gimme Five: The Overwrought

A definition, if you will:

O-ver-wrought (oh-ver-rawt), adj.

1. extremely or excessively excited or agitated: to becomeoverwrought on hearing bad news; an overwrought personality.
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2. elaborated to excess; excessively complex or ornate: writtenin a florid, overwrought style.
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3. Archaic . wearied or exhausted by overwork.
It’s the old definition that best describes these songs.  Beautiful?  Sure.  Enough is enough, though.  And these songs have finally tipped the scales…
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1. “Oh Danny Boy”
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Here’s Elvis Presley singing “as dead I may well be” to the delight of astrologers and too-many-A’s-on-his-tombstoners everywhere.
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It’s not badly done; my idol killing has already extended to the King, but I admittingly like this version.  And it was done in 1976, well before it became  the “[your country]’s Got Talent standard:
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Even the world’s most proper asshole couldn’t let the kid down, and the song is part of it; there’s this assumed gravitas that comes with the “moments” of this song: the exposed notes, the big sixth jump you wonder if the singer will nail.  But “Oh Danny Boy”‘s familiarity is also it’s downfall.  Everybody’s done it, and even if it wasn’t just an editor’s trick about the level of adoration of the audience[SPOILER ALERT IT TOTALLY IS], singing this dead horse isn’t doing anyone any favors.
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It’s no fault of Liam McNally, the singer in the above video.  He has a wonderful voice and real music ambition.  Look at him singing the Canticle of Simeon; he still does a good job for an untrained singer, but most people would just say “a boy with a high voice” and not “best thing evar” because the song, although beautiful, isn’t one that people are already convinced it’s beautiful before they ever hear it.
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2. Nessun Dorma
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Dear Every Professional Musician and Vocalist I Asked Questions To In Regards to This Post,
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I know that not a single one of you agreed with me.  Please note that I feel a trained classical vocalist that understands phrasing, nuance, and dynamic control can still sing Nessun Dorma in a moving, not-overwrought-at-all way.
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Please also note that those classically-trained vocalists are not the ones I write about.  I write about these people:
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I dare each and every one of you to watch this guitar self-wank buffonery from Jeff Beck and have anything but your funny bone and your bowels moved.  Also, he won a Grammy for this.  For fucking real.
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Love, The Pirate George Letters
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3.  The Star Spangled Banner
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People should just sing it.  It can’t be a “moment” anymore, because we all have some sort of jingoistic knee-jerk reaction to it.  Even me.  You don’t have to dress it up.  Besides, if you tried to dress it up after the spring of 1983, you’d look foolish anyway.  This version is it.  None other.  So good that Len Bias waited a full three years out of respect before he died of a cocaine overdose.
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4. “Rolling In The Deep”
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Has a song this ok-but-not-great ever been beaten to death so quickly?  Is it because of the derth of Adele’s range?  The opportunity to say “shit” in a karaoke bar?  Sisters doing it for themselves, and by that I mean “all sisters singing this song at least once in the course of three months?”  I mean, for fuck’s sake…
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Stop.  The power of Christ compels you.
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5. “Song To The Siren”
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If I just talked shit about one o your favorite songs, here’s my comeuppance: I’m about to talk shit about one of my favorite songs.
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“Song To The Siren” is a beautiful song, existing in skeleton form in Tim Buckley’s original and receiving flesh most famously from This Mortal Coil(and, yes, by “flesh” I mean “Patricia Arquette’s desert-abraised titties”).  Hell, I even love John Frusciante’s version.  I like something from a Ret Hot Chili Pepper?  YES.
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But every song of this nature has a version that falls on the other side of the parabola.  And I hate to say it, but Brian Ferry took us there.
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People seem to always bring their A game to Jools Holland.  This was pretty painful.  True, it’s better than seeing him croon some old jazz standards(I hope Rod Stewart doesn’t read my ad in Soldier of Fortune), but this is, even for Bryan Ferry’s solo career, pretty mediocre.  Would I rather hear kids singing this on “Idol”?  Maybe.  Probably not, though.

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