Classical Music Forum banner

Best rendition of "Over the Rainbow" - Choose up to two selections...

1 - 6 of 17 Posts

· Premium Member
Chicago (ex-Dublin)
Joined
·
6,616 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Wizard of Oz Movie Poster Print (27 x 40) - Item # MOVAF7173 -  Posterazzi


Harold Arlen and Edgar "Yip" Harburg - "Over the Rainbow"


"Over the Rainbow" is a ballad by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg. It was written for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz in which it was sung by actress Judy Garland in her starring role as Dorothy Gale. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and became Garland's signature song.

In March 2017, "Over the Rainbow" sung by Judy Garland was entered in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as music that is "culturally, historically, or artistically significant". The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) ranked it number one on their Songs of the Century list. The American Film Institute named it best movie song on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs list.


Note: This is Part One of a three part competition



Judy Garland



Tony Bennett



Ray Charles



The Four Freshmen
 

· Premium Member
Chicago (ex-Dublin)
Joined
·
6,616 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I picked Connie Francis and Judy Garland with Melissa Manchester close behind.

My bottom three are the Four Freshmen (sound like a high-school glee club), Mandy Patinkin (can't stand his singing voice ), and Jackie Wilson (way over-cooked).
I had never heard of them - cultural and generational differences - We didn't have "glee clubs" in secondary school in Ireland (at least mine didn't) - and had to research them -

"Soon, the Four Freshmen drew the admiration of jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie and Woody Herman. On March 21, 1950, Stan Kenton heard the quartet at the Esquire Lounge in Dayton, Ohio. He "had been told at his own show earlier that night about a quartet in town that sounded like his 43-piece ensemble", and was sufficiently impressed that on April 14, he arranged for an audition with his label, Capitol Records, which signed them later that year."

According to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians: -

The group represented a modernizing force in the sphere of close harmony quartets in American popular music, moving away from the barbershop style to introduce elements of jazz. In doing so, they influenced younger groups such as the Hi-Los and the Beach Boys.

The Oxford Companion to Popular Music says:

They sing with great variety, in quiet unison or full-throated harmony, using modern jazz harmonies and varied dynamics, a considerable advance on the typical close-harmony quartets that had preceded them.

The Four Freshmen have won Jazz Times magazine's Readers Poll for Best Vocal Group multiple years.

The group won DownBeat magazine's Readers Poll for Best Vocal Group in 1953, 1954,1955, 1956,1958, 2000, and 2001.

The Freshmen have been nominated for a Grammy Award six times.


They were inducted into the "Vocal Group Hall of Fame" in 2001.

"The Four Freshmen were the most innovative and imitated jazz vocal quartet ever to grace vinyl. Innovative because of their unique concept of singing “open” harmony, moving the third and fifth notes of a chord an octave higher or lower, or using ninths and elevenths while dropping root notes of a chord. Emulated because every type of artist heart something fresh and exciting in their sound not only jazz groups, but acts as diverse as The Harptones in the 50’s, The Beach Boys of the 60’s, and The Manhattan Transfer in the 70’s heard a redefinition of harmony that stirred their own imaginations. That doesn’t count The Hi-Lo's, The Hilltoppers, The Lettermen, Spanky and Our Gang, and The Mamas and the Papas.

In 1960 the group recorded the masterful “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring.” It so enchanted a young Brian Wilson that he lifted the vocal arrangement note for note, fist as “A Young Man Is Gone” (Little Deuce Coupe LP) and then under the original title for the Live Beach Boys ’69 LP. (Wilson even dropped by the Freshmen’s office in Hollywood during the Beach Boys’ formative years to secure copies of their vocal charts.) The Beach Boys ultimately found their niche playing Chuck Berry rhythms with Four Freshmen harmonies, but they did direct credit to the Freshmen.

 

· Premium Member
Chicago (ex-Dublin)
Joined
·
6,616 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ella Fitzgerald strikes me as a glaring omission here. She recorded two albums worth of Harold Arlen songs. But I have to go with the ladies here. I couldn't get through 30 seconds of any of the male singers save Ray Charles.

The Connie Francis arrangement sounds like a 1960 teen heartthrob number so I didn't enjoy it. I don't agree that the Melissa Manchester arrangement killed the song despite the rather dramatic build up. She's a great vocalist who really made me feel the song. That's my number one pick behind the iconic film rendition by Judy Garland.
She's in Part Two - This is a three part contest - Each of the three groups needs to be solidly anchored with first-tier talent so that they're evenly balanced. Each group is represented by a "standard" version which is then paired with an assortment of vocalists who provide a performance that is either representative of a particular period style or one that is a unique yet legitimate interpretation of that "standard" version.
 

· Premium Member
Chicago (ex-Dublin)
Joined
·
6,616 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Garland - Bennett - Charles - The Four Freshmen - Francis - Manchester - Patinkin - Wilson

Judy Garland - No one is ever going to be anything but a very distant third place - There is no "Second place" - There's Garland in first and everyone else who ever cut this tune in third...


Despite that... I didn't vote for her - Low hanging fruit and I wanted to force myself to take a closer look at the other contestants by giving them a fair hearing without the fear of being overshadowed.

First vote - Connie Francis - Heartbreaking rendition - just devastating in its emotional impact - This is what someone sounds like when they're desperately trying to escape an abusive relationship - To be anywhere other than where they are at that precise moment - I knew she had technique but never suspected a talent for phrasing this well developed.

Second vote - Tony Bennett - Excellent technique - Superb phrasing - There's a wistful - lonely - quality to the tune - almost as if he's in mourning for a lost love and the tune is more of an expression of someday being reunited - if not in this life - then in the next.

Ray Charles - Not as much technique as Bennett - Who does? - but still an impressively expressive rendition - This too, comes across as a song of genuine heartfelt anguish - which was undermined by the choral arrangement - He should have played this one straight and he might have been able to elbow his way past Bennett.

The Four Freshmen - I had no idea who they were or are - Didn't have a clue as to how to judge something so thoroughly out of my wheelhouse - Did the research - They're very well respected - Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys - I can kind of wrap my head around the concept but the execution is such that I couldn't judge them fairly as I have nothing in my background with which to compare them - They were hugely popular - Sold millions of records - They're very inventive - The vocal harmonies are quite intricate - but all I hear are "notes" - well sung notes - but not actual "words" that are intended to mean anything - I willing to concede that I may be completely missing the point on this one.

Melissa Manchester - powerhouse vocalist - thoughtful interpretation - If Connie Francis wasn't in this contest, she would have been able to push her way past Ray Charles and pick up that second vote - She's a fierce competitor - I give her an automatic entry into every competition.

Mandy Patinkin - If you're inclined to cynicism, he can probably come across as a bit twee - If you're not - If you're a genuinely kind-hearted and good-natured, you probably can't help liking this performance far more than you anticipated - It's difficult to get past the mannerisms upon the first listen but if you can steel yourself for a second (or even third) listen, his artistry eventually becomes manifest - Again, another name that I was only somewhat vaguely familiar with but discovered that he's quite an accomplished actor with an impressive resume - Not quite certain how an entire album would play itself out - Not feeling particularly experimental at the moment so that's a question which shall remain hypothetical for the moment.

Jackie Wilson - great set of pipes - thoroughly enjoyed the tune - like him as a vocalist - he's nothing if not dynamic - but thought that he completely - totally - missed the intent of the songwriter - but this is a vocalist whose work would be worth seeking out - As long as "style" meant more than "substance"...
 
1 - 6 of 17 Posts
Top