Thursday, May 28, 2009

Elis and Sade

I was listening to Elis Regina and Antonio Carlos Jobim a few days ago and was thinking a lot about bossa nova and how it had inspired the most vapid elevator muzak. (Exhibit A: "The Girl From Ipanema.") It's unfortunate, because it is a rhythmically and melodically complex genre, paradoxically profound by being supremely breezy and easy to listen to. Also, most people in the U.S. know bossa nova only through saxophonist Stan Getz and his Getz/Gilberto record (which Jobim is featured on), so it is not difficult to see how the bossa nova cliche arose. Anyways, I woke up in the dead of night yesterday and thought, "Elis and Sade" and immediately fell back asleep. That's probably the craziest shit that has ever woken me.

After some reflection the next day, the main commonality I heard was the emotional restraint combined with the sexual longing. It must be terribly difficult to express vocally because the sentiments are at odds with each other. Elis and Sade are brilliant vocalists, but stealthily so. Here are two clips for you to decide. The first is "Pois E" by Elis and Jobim (whose nickname is Tom) from their album Elis & Tom, the second is by Sade, "Nothing Can Come Between Us." By the way, please focus on the voice, not the visuals, otherwise you'd call me crazy.

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