I reviewed the version of this single from Chris Brown's album 'F.A.M.E.', which had the
following details in its liner notes:
Written by Chris Brown, Marco Benassi,
Alessandro Benassi, Jean Baptiste.
Produced by Marco 'Benny' Benassi, Alessandro
Recorded by Brian Springer.
Mixed by Serban Ghenea, John
Mastered by Tom Coyne.
The more I listen to this track, the more
I think I should stick it into my own little reference library. The reason for this is
that I really like the way Serban Ghenea has managed to get the vocals right up front and
clearly intelligible, but while still managing to maintain a sense of size in the track as
a whole. The ever-present danger, of course, is that bringing the vocal too far up front
turns everything else all Mini-Me, but I think he treads this tightrope brilliantly. The
aforementioned clever use of pumping is clearly part of the recipe here, as is the
calculated mono-incompatibility of the pumped synths -- the latter are still present as a
statement in mono, in terms of giving enough harmonic support and that pumping effect, but
just don't deliver the same masking 'fizz'.
However, the vocal processing
also has an important part to play in this too, by giving Chris Brown this kind of
hyper-glossy high-end sound that can really cut through the mix. The question I find
myself pondering is how Ghenea's achieved it. Obviously, there's a great deal of 10-20kHz
top octave in there, to start with, but I doubt that it's as simple as just slapping on a
15kHz shelving boost with a DAW's bundled channel EQ. If I were shooting for this sound,
I'd certainly head towards high-CPU processors, probably of the modelled analogue variety,
because it's very easy to end up with harshness otherwise. Industrial-strength de-essing
would be pretty much a prerequisite as well, or else some kind of multi-band processing
that obviated the need for it.
Listening to the stereo Sides signal leads me
to suspect that there's a combination of bright modulation effect and very short bright
reverb being used for further HF enhancement too -- both stalwarts in this kind of
application, although I don't personally use the latter as often as I probably should!
(Note to self...) There are lots of bright delays going on too, with all sorts of
different taps pinging around the place (including a feedback tail in the right channel
imbalancing the stereo field -- not something that I normally recommend, but it does catch
the ear nicely here), which aids the top-octave sustain and density.
Altogether I think this is a premium-grade job, not least because it manages to avoid
being too fatiguing to listen to, despite the overall high-frequency density. I do still
secretly wish it had been a Marilyn Manson cover, though...
critiques of commercial productions, browse The
Mix Review Index
Edited by Jennifer Jones (25/07/11 10:26 AM)