Saturday, January 25, 2014

Creating my inner 80's pop star.

When I was about 7 I heard what I thought was the voice of an angel...the song was Material Girl followed by a song called, well....Angel. The voice of Madonna. 1984 was the year that made the biggest impression on me musically but I never knew it would lead to anything other than listening to the music I loved. I was over at my next door neighbor's house and they had just gotten the brand new Like A Virgin tape by Madonna. I HAD to have this cassette. I ran back home and told my mom I just had to have my own copy and my mom cut me off with "Tape it off the radio!" comment that she so loved to spout off to my sister and I. Unfortunately, she didn't stop to think that I had no capability to tape anything off the radio, I had no radio or tape recorder...Just my Disco 80 by Emerson record player. Instead of explaining that our family could not afford the average cost for a record album at the time, about $8, she would just bluntly give me a suggestion that was not thought out leaving me with the feeling of WTF?

Luckily I was surrounded by girls in my neighborhood that all seemed to either have Like a Virgin on LP or cassette so I was able to hang out with them an listen to it while playing with their Barbies. I invented X-treme Barbie Games as well as Barbie and Ken Goes to Hell's Kitchen for a Trick...though the girls had no clue what Barbie standing on the street corner with Ken in her Dream Car actually was....I was fucking multitasking. Creating story lines for porn and listening to ear candy. Eventually, my friend Molly Johnson's mom let me borrow her Like A Virgin album so I could record it onto a tape using my sister's state of the art Soundesign (yeah I thought it was awesome before I knew any better) stereo complete with a basic EQ, radio, turntable, dual cassettes with syncro dubbing and 2-3 and a half foot wooden floor speakers that could be used to store various items atop. So with the record in tow, I headed straight to my sisters room, found an unused Memorex 60 minute cassette take.

I carefully recorded side 1 of the record to side A of the cassette and side 2 of the album to side B of the cassette. I popped the out the write protect tabs so neither side could be recorded over and promptly returned Molly's record with a big smile and a lot of thanks which also got me an invitation to enjoy a taco dinner with Molly and her mom...I was such a polite little boy.

I spent hours listening to Madonna chirp out what seemed to be helium induced sounds and begun to emulate her, secretly I could sing the album frontwards and backwards and still can. This album taught me the concept of the true sound of the 80's, the weaker the voice the more reverb and voice overs are added to the track. My dad later surprised me with Madonna's first album, this was way before my parents thought my obsession with Madonna was unhealthy. I believe he found it for $4 or $5 on clearance. This was around the time that cassettes were taking the mainstream and when CDs were smashed into a tiny section consisting of 20 or so selections. The songs were different and the sound was a bit more sparse but Madonna's voice was the same, high pitched and happy sounding. I practically wore out the album but my obsession with it led to even more of an understanding on how 80's pop singers sing. This was many years before my actual voice training began, which more or less brought me out of my shell. Over the years, I obtained all of the commercially available albums, tapes and eventually the CDs released by Madonna and knew each one of them intimately up until I was 20 or so and then my obsession switched gears to my other obsession that I had obtained in my mid-teens, Broadway.

Flash forward to the early 2000s...I found a community of home recording enthusiasts that enjoyed recording their own covers of popular songs using karaoke tracks and sharing their covers with others to enjoy and comment on. I was instantly hooked, I loved listening to others and seeing their comments on my own songs. There were many requests from people for me to record songs of The Phantom of the Opera as well as songs of Madonna since they knew of my obsessive history with both...I never thought I could do either justice and shied away from them...Mainly because the covers that were on the sites of both were really awful and I was scared to post something just as equally awful. Somehow this fear subsided with I recorded a medley of tunes from Evita in the keys that Madonna sang in the film...I recorded 1 Madonna song and it got amazing comments, then another and another and I soon became known as Mister Madonna....I eventually lost interest in that site when the traffic died and I guess everyone jumped over to doing videos on youtube, something I would like to eventually do.

So by the time I was 15, my parents tried to forbid me to have anything to do with Madonna, they believed that her image was tainting my mind and forcing me to become rebellious. My mom tore down my Blonde Ambition poster and everything else on the walls of my room. She didn't take my tapes or CDs but she did take the covers for a little while. I have a feeling one of her weirdo religious friends suggested that. My parents sat me down and said my obsession was unhealthy and there was nothing constructive that it offered to my well being....SO...maybe back then it didn't have anything to offer me but years later it did give me a clear understanding of pop music, how it's recorded and how it should sound.....And after all this long rambling intro...I give you several Madonna covers that I have recorded over the years....What do you think?
Adrian singing La Isla Bonita from Madonna's True Blue album

Adrian singing One More Chance from Madonna's Something To Remember ballads compilation

Adrian singing Burning Up from Madonna's debut album

Adrian singing Promise to Try from Madonna's Like A Prayer album

Adrian singing Physical Attraction from Madonna's debut album

Adrian singing If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better featuring Madonna singing Material Girl

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