KEXP: The Icelandic Dreamboat versus the Beatle

We are on the cusp of the reveal for the 2012 Christmas number one single, with the race to the top spot currently tied between James Arthur’s homogenised cover of Shontelle’s “Impossible”, versus the re-hashed Charity single “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”

With the latter being spearheaded by Paul McCartney and profits of the single going directly to families worst affected by the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, It’s abundantly clear where James Arthur stands in this toss-up. Image

Such a grandiose level of achievement, in previous years – once bestowed upon Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Pink Floyd (to name a few), but more recently falling to those such as Bob the builder (yes, really) and Shayne Ward (who?) It’s fair to say that the Christmas top slot is no longer an accolade that necessarily denotes musical capability, nor reflects the fantastic emerging talent in the music scene. In Lieu of talent, the artist determined to hit the top spot requires only that dynamite quality of likeability; we as listeners should count ourselves lucky when miraculously the two are combined and the people’s choice actually manages to exhibit traces of musicality.

For 2012 it’s clear that the Hillsborough Christmas single should and will come out top. You have to be the biggest scrooge at Christmas to want to deny charitable giving, however it has to be said that despite the lovely sentiment, that if the charity element was removed, you’d be left with a dated rendition that does little to advance or personalise the track – something all good covers should aim to do.

However, charity aside, when you weigh up Macca’s competition you are faced with Simon Cowells latest X factor graduate and his vastly over produced cover of a Diva-Pop Shontelle track. I’m not narrow minded enough to suggest that a man can’t cover a female track, my  quandary lies in the fact that despite a surprisingly capable voice with an interesting timbre, Cowell’s team have managed to assassinate any artistic integrity he may possess in one fell swoop, through a crass and fundamentally lazy production on the song.

Therefore in view of this, CP feels the need to appoint its own Christmas Number One tribute, in the first step on the grand path towards a cultural overhaul. The position goes to an artist well deserving of merit and praise. One whom not only sings beatifically, but whom also hasn’t been sent like a lemming into sin bin of mediocrity, via an entirely dated production team.

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/early-photography/7319860012/

Our artist in question is Sóley, the Icelandic dream boat who subtly manoeuvres her way through her track ‘I’ll drown,’ to create a melancholic dreamscape. Hailing from the school of the Nordic aesthetic – bearing in mind that this is the same grouping that gave us Bjork  and more recently ‘Beach House’ and ‘First Aid Kit’, Sóley was never going to be your average lycra flouting pop angel. What strikes me most in this live performance clip is that it absolutely annihilates the studio recording by comparison. It’s reassuring to hear that in an era of mass over production, you can still find artists with a talent and production skill so unique, it’s almost impossible to capture entirely in hard copy.

Do take a look at the video and congratulate this year’s well deserved *yet entirely un-official and made up, yet still completely valid* Christmas number one!

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