It’s mid-February already! My, my, my! Where did this month go? It flew by too fast! I am still recovering from the chocolate overload of Valentines. But, while I am getting over the massive intake of chocolate, please enjoy the next “Battle of the Songs”. Well, this time is more of a “Battle of the Bands”.
SAW: The Legendary Powerhouse
Was I able to rickroll you? Yes, Yes, Yes?
This song was the pivotal part of a meme that was popular about ten years ago. I really didn’t follow it. My sister tried to rickroll me a couple of times, but I avoided it like a ninja. I knew her intentions before opening those links.
Yet I feel like the rickroll meme is the only thing that the newer generations know about Rick Astley and the powerhouse 80s’ music team Stock Aiken and Waterman (or SAW). Now, I am considered “young” (but I hate to be called that because for me “young equals stupid and naive” and I always wanted to be an adult) since I was born in 1989, but I have been a SAW fan for a long time. It is all thanks to my mom as she listened to a lot of music when I was growing up, mostly British. She knew I was a SAW fan in high school because she would buy me Bananarama records and a Steps CD when I was in high school.
I am a massive fan of SAW’s music. I researched and listened to a lot of artists, major and minor ones, produced by the team (or at least one member). Yes, I know the big ones like Bananarama, Dead or Alive, Rick Astley, Mel & Kim, and etc. But, I know the minor ones like O’Chi Brown, KAKKO, and Princess. Actually, one of my prized possessions in my record collection is a signed 7-inch single of KAKKO’s “We Must Be Dancing.” KAKKO, who now goes by the name Anju Suzuki, wasn’t much of a success with SAW and her singing career in the early 90s. But, she is now a successful actress and personality here in Japan.
The Gloves Are Off
Today’s battle two artists who worked with the musical powerhouse trio: one who recently had a birthday and one who was a one-hit wonder. I love SAW music because I love the Eurobeat sound. In fact, I wrote a big paper, which is now lost in cyberspace, about the evolution of the Eurobeat sound and influences back in college.
Listen and tell me which one is your favorite!
O’Chi Brown – Whenever You Need Somebody (1985)
We start off the competition with O’Chi Brown with her original rendition of “Whenever You Need Somebody”. She was a one-hit wonder as this 1985 single was the only one out of her discography to land on the top of some chart: the US Dance charts. After that, her career just fizzled out by the end of 80s.
You could tell that this song was written in the early part of SAW’s career. It has more of the early 80s’ high-pitched synthesizers, a drum kit straight out of Ollie And Jerry’s “There’s No Stopping Us”, and slower tempo. Even though the instrumentation feels slowed down and somewhat cheap, Brown’s vocals are the opposite. They are powerful and full of texture. I love how they are like a chameleon: going from powerful to sultry to cool without any troubles.
Rick Astley – Whenever You Need Somebody (1987)
Ok, ok, ok! I admit! I did pick Rick Astley because his birthday was last week. And also, “Whenever You Need Somebody” can be a great (post-) Valentine’s day song, right?
“Whenever You Need Somebody”. is one of my favorite Rick Astley’s song. I also love the album it came from. If you do intend to listen to the album Whenever You Need Somebody after this, please listen to “Slipping Away” and “You Move Me”. Those are great songs (and usually album-only songs are overlooked).
I like the instrumentation of Astley’s better because it is more polished and mixed better. This was made in the period when SAW produced their songs with a really great sound. It also somewhat sounds really modern. I have a feeling that this song could be a hit today with Bruno Mars singing this and little changes in instrumentation. (This makes me wonder what would the 1987 “Whenever You Need Somebody” sound like if I substituted Astley’s vocals for Brown’s?)
Before You Go…
Here is an interesting fact: These two have worked with each other before in the mid-80s. Before becoming famous, Rick Astley worked at the PWL Studios as a tea boy and a backup singer. One of his first recording opportunities was with O’chi Brown on the 1986 single “Learning To Live”. Although Astley was uncredited on the initial pressings, he was credited on the reissues.
What Will It Be?
Now it is your turn to vote! Who will be the victor of the first-ever “Battle of the Songs”? Tell me in the comments below! Also, tell me why you choose a particular version! I can’t wait to hear what you guys think!
I am also part of The “Battle of the Bands” blog collection. After you vote, please visit the other battles from this blogger circle. There are really interesting battles!