Sunday, September 27, 2009

Song Comparison Assignment

1st Comparison - Daniel by Elton John (1973), redone by Wilson Philips (1991)

The song Daniel was an old classic that was originally made by Elton John in 1973. 18 years later, the same song was redone by Wilson Phillips, a popular female group of the 90’s. Although they have the same exact lyrics, the two songs differ in many ways. For one, the original version seems much more simple and retro. The music video simply features Elton John and his band playing the song, which is dull in comparison to today’s music videos. Although Wilson Phillips’ version does not include a music video, the same comparison can be made regarding the general sound or vibe of the music. The original uses less of a variety of instruments. A guitar, a drum set, and an electric piano are the only instruments used to create the soft and steady rhythm of the song. This makes the beat sound calm and mellow. On the contrary, a wider variety of instruments are used in Wilson Phillips’ version. In addition, computer editing was used to improve the sound of the instruments as well as the clarity of the singer. For these reasons, the beat sounds clear and crisp, resulting in a more exciting sound.

Both versions of the song are about a fictional character named “Daniel” who has passed away. The lyrics of the song can be interpreted as the commemoration of his life. Although Elton John’s original song and Wilson Phillips’ cover share the same lyrics, the moods associated with the songs are noticeably different. Due to the different rhythm of the song, Wilson Philips’ version sounds upbeat and inspirational, as if they are celebrating Daniel’s life. On contrary, the original exudes a calm and placid mood which makes it sound more like a lamenting tribute to Daniel rather than a celebration. These two songs are prime examples of Northrop Frye’s "convention concept". Frye suggests that there are certain conventions or archetypes in the arts that have been consistently used throughout history that will never die out. He goes on to explain how the presentation and the creator's individual twist on the piece of art separates it from its archetype. In this case, both artists sing about a deceased man who has touched their lives. The only way that the songs differ is their presentation, which makes both of them individual and unique.

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