Monday, June 14, 2010

6/14/10 - Songs of the Summer #1-2: "I'll Never Smile Again", "Daddy"

Top song of summer 1940: "I'll Never Smile Again", by Tommy Dorsey.

**Buzzfeed posts the 1959 version, also recorded by Frank Sinatra, so I'm discussing that version here**

So, summer in 1940. The weather it hot. It's time to get down. What club banger do we have? Why, "I'll Never Smile Again," a mournful, velvety smolder of romantic despair. Well, that's a downer. Fitting I suppose since there was a war on and all. I'm sure Flo Rida is working on his own version of this song as we speak.

But I digress. An interesting aspect of this song for a child of the '80s (I was born in '81) and '90s is that a song at the top of the Billboard charts in summer is so slow and melody-focused, as opposed to rhythm focused. Especially as hip-hop staged its takeover through the '90s of the summer soundtrack, rhythmic drive became de rigeur. "I'll Smile Again" is all melody. It's a lovely song, even if the smoothness of the delivery wears strangely with the despair of the lyrics.

Top song of summer 1941: "Daddy" by Sammy Kaye & His Orchestra.

Ah, here we go. "Hey Daddy/I want a diamond ring/bracelets/everything/Daddy/You want to get the best for me." And there we have a straight line right through to "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)".

This song is more in line with what I expected in diving into the '40s material. An uptempo swing song, all about a figure that pop music knows all too well: the mythical gold digger of vaguely ill repute. It starts with a mindlessly catchy series of "la da das," before launching into the story of lazy Daisy Mae, with her charming and occasionally alarming disposition. I'm assuming that's '40s euphemism for a lady in the streets but a freak in the bed.

Here also is some of the rhythmic primacy I associate with summertime jams. It's big-band swing, but the syncopated chorus and the whole champagne/caviar sequence adds a swing to the vocals that nicely counterpoints the instrumental. I could see "Daddy" finding its way to the soundtrack of an outdoor barbeque for some throwback flavor. I can't say the same for "I'll Never Smile Again."


ariyele said...

can't wait for flo rida's version of i'll never smile again. boo-yaka-sha.

ariyele said...

can't wait for flo rida's version of i'll never smile again. boo-yaka-sha.