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Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

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Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby Matt Houghton » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:11 pm

Ellie Goulding’s tremendous vocal performance was more than enough to carry this song into the charts, but personally I can’t help being underwhelmed by the instrumental arrangement, which reminds me rather too much of something out of one of those ‘one man band’ arranger keyboards! I mean, come on — surely there’s more to life than eighth‑note piano chords? And I pity the poor, wasted cellist, whose only relief from uninspired chordal padding is the self‑conscious-sounding fill at 2:27. I’m not asking for jazz‑fusion here — the spotlight should undoubtedly remain on Ellie, after all — but those instrumental parts almost completely miss the opportunity to support or enhance the vocal line.

I’m not totally convinced by the sonics either, even though Goulding’s performance kicks arse and the vocal sound is pretty respectable too. The piano feels bass‑light, for a start, and the presence of a spurious sub‑50Hz environmental rumble at 1:08 suggests that this is down to recording choices, rather than filtering at mixdown. The cello sounds even more anaemic, as if it’s been miked too close to the instrument, and it doesn’t blend well with either the piano or vocal. Yes, I know, you could argue that this puts the project into the ‘authentically/endearingly rough‑hewn’ category, and that the overall lightweight mix tone deliberately serves to contrast with the rumbling LF of the climactic bass‑drum entry at 2:29 — but I just don’t buy it. For my money, Adele’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ (which also recently enjoyed a return to the charts) works much better on all these counts — it’s got a more musical (though still reserved) arrangement, great‑sounding piano and string recordings, and some subtle low‑end support from an additional bass line. Mike Senior

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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby BenH » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:29 am

I couldn't get on with the EG version of Your Song. I found EJ's original a bit cloying any way, and EG's glottal stops and general tweeness a bit irritating. But Mike's points on the arrangement and mix make a lot of sense, and are thought provoking. I wondered whether the piano had been intended as a component for a more elaborate arrangement - i.e. it wasn't originally intended to be as exposed as it is in this mix.

Great idea for a new column. Only problem is that I'll need to download the other two tracks, my daughter's Now That's What I Call Average collection not stretching to them...
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby The Bunk » Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:52 pm

I was quite taken with EG's version at first - although maybe that was down to the warm glow I got from it being a John Lewis Xmas advert - but it soon wears off.
Can't really pass comment on the various EQ issues that arise as I'm no expert but I've been learning the original Elton John version on the piano and EGs version does miss out on some of the nicer features of the piano playing on the original. There's a couple of subtle chord variations (an F over a C descending to a C, and another F over an A rising to a Bb) which sound lovely when just played on their own.
My girlfriend also wanted to try singing it in the EG style, so I tried playing it in the eighth-note manner. It just doesn't work (although I am still a relative beginner so my touch may not be quite what's needed for it!) but there has to be something else going on to keep the song moving.
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:50 pm

It reminded me of Sid Vicious doing "My Way". Worth hearing once but added nothing to the original.

I had high hopes for EG, the first time I heard "Starry Eyed" I told by music obsessed children to keep an eye on her as she was a distinctive voice with a refreshing energy to her performance. I bought the album, it had one other good song on it, "The Writer". Both went on the medicine box (iRiver H10). The CD hasn't left the case again.

When I heard "Your Song" I initially thought it was one of those Radio 1 live lounge sessions that pair artists with songs they are least likely to otherwise do. A great idea, BTW. With that in mind, I reasoned, the keys player could be forgiven for missing out some of the key chord changes which I now realised were an integral part of the movement of the dynamic and without which it sounded like a bad karaoke wedding.

The vocal is interesting insofar as it sounds like someone doing an impression of EG doing an EJ song but without those features that made EG stand out to me in the first place, originality and talent.

Would I have sold out in the same way for a lucrative advertising deal - bloody right, but let's not kid ourselves it's anything other than that.
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Mix review review

Postby ian2 » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:12 pm

shufflebeat wrote:It reminded me of Sid Vicious doing "My Way". Worth hearing once but added nothing to the original.

shufflebeat, your mix review is a touch light on the mixing side of things. :-) But thank you for saying what I was thinking - I agree entirely with everything you've written!
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Re: Mix review review

Postby shufflebeat » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:33 am

ian2 wrote:
shufflebeat wrote:It reminded me of Sid Vicious doing "My Way". Worth hearing once but added nothing to the original.

shufflebeat, your mix review is a touch light on the mixing side of things. :-) But thank you for saying what I was thinking - I agree entirely with everything you've written!

Fair point Ian. I've only heard the track on small DAB radio so haven't been in a position to study it in detail but don't think I've heard anything that couldn't have been done in a decent project studio.

I like the Mix Review concept, I see it as another angle on and a valid complement to the Classic Tracks feature. I think this track is an odd choice to start it on, though. I look forward to future editions where the hand of the mix engineer is more apparent.
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby shufflebeat » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:42 am

BTW, am I losing the plot or did this thread change it's name?
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:13 am

The Bunk wrote:I was quite taken with EG's version at first - although maybe that was down to the warm glow I got from it being a John Lewis Xmas advert - but it soon wears off.

It's truly, truly horrendous in every single respect: not only does she introduce her own melody, as Elton's clearly wasn't good enough for her, but the chord structure changed beyond all recognition as once again, Elton's original effort clearly didn't cut it.

As for her vocal/singing style, that's just plain awful.
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby Mike Senior » Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:09 am

I can see that this track has already sparked a fair bit of debate, which is great -- the purpose of the 'Mix Review' column is partly to get people talking more about commercial productions, so that we can all learn something! To answer shufflebeat's specific comment, though (namely that this track was an unusual choice to start the column on), I can see your point if you're looking at the column as being just about mixing. However, we've always wanted the column's reach to be wider than that, so that we can take in issues of writing, production and mastering, seeing as all of those can play important roles in the effectiveness of the final mix that's heard by the public at large. As such, I think the column is actually more an extension of 'Inside Track' or 'Mix Rescue' than it is of 'Classic Tracks'.

On the whole I'm trying to choose tracks which feel like they've got something interesting to teach the listener, rather than just because they're great songs or chart smashes -- there's often a lot more to learn from tracks which aren't as successful, in fact! That said, I am going to be focusing primarily on the Top Ten in general, rather than the whole Top 40, simply because it's more likely that the reader will have access to those tracks. Still, this column will continue to evolve, I'm sure, so do keep the feedback comments coming so that we can make it as useful as possible to the largest number of readers.

I reviewed this song from Ellie Goulding's Album 'Bright Lights', my copy of which includes 'Your Song' as a bonus track. The credits in the CD sleeve are:

Music by Elton John.
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin.
Produced by Ben Lovett.
Engineered and Mixed by Matt Lawrence.
Mastered by Naweed at Whitfield Mastering
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby shufflebeat » Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:40 pm

Yeah, I realised afterwards it was Inside Track I meant but thought I'll keep my head down and hope nobody noticed. Some chance...

There was some talk at one stage about a series building a mix from downloadable files. It was explained how this might throw up some issues (maybe I'm imagining all this). The Mix Review promises to explore the process in the same way but from a different angle.

Looking forward to it.
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby Thomas Elise » Tue Apr 05, 2011 10:54 pm

Interesting. Produced by Ben Lovett? As in.... Mumford & Sons???
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby TapeOpAl » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:14 am

While I often have my own thoughts on ideas and opinions shared in SoS (as everyone should with every publication) I was thrilled to find that Mike Senior in some way shared my disdain for this song.

Ellie Goulding has also done a similarly pedestrian cover of Roscoe by Midlake - a great song that she makes no great contribution to.
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby Mike Senior » Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:03 pm

Thomas Elise wrote:Interesting. Produced by Ben Lovett? As in.... Mumford & Sons???

I believe so.
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby Mike Senior » Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:04 pm

TapeOpAl wrote:While I often have my own thoughts on ideas and opinions shared in SoS (as everyone should with every publication) I was thrilled to find that Mike Senior in some way shared my disdain for this song.

It's us against the world!
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:06 pm

TapeOpAl wrote:
Ellie Goulding has also done a similarly pedestrian cover of Roscoe by Midlake

aaargh! Say it ain't so.
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby bazmitch » Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:34 am

What a waste of a great song and a good singer.

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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Sat May 07, 2011 11:35 am

Have to agree with all of the above. Especially that the piano part sounds more like a place holder than an actual performance. And it's especially annoying that they missed out on the nice harmony, as already pointed out.

I did think that the vocal performance was good, and it's a better vocal recording than the rest of the album. Not that the other vocals are actually bad recordings, but they're not world class. A bit too sizzly for my taste.
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby Rich Hanson » Mon May 09, 2011 12:21 pm

When this track first appeared I saw a comment from Mitch Benn that made me smile, along the lines of 'did nobody think to say to her "that's not how it goes"?'

Well, it amused me anyway
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby ian2 » Mon May 09, 2011 5:58 pm

...all of which reminds me of a quip from a music teacher from my secondary school days. I think the context was his invitation to pupils to bring in something from their own music collection for the class to hear. One of the pupils, known to be a huge fan of Rush, suggested that he might bring in a Rush LP. Paraphrasing the music teacher (a bit more politely): "You're so crazy about Rush, if they released a record of themselves breaking wind on stage you'd probably want to buy it."





Disclaimer 1: I'm not impartial to a bit of Rush myself (although I wasn't that pupil and do have to draw the line somewhere!).

Disclaimer 2: Hearing one of Ellie Goulding's original tracks a week ago I was reminded how delightful her music can be.
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Re: Ellie Goulding: 'Your Song'

Postby TSH-Tim » Wed May 11, 2011 7:20 pm

Even though i don't understand everything talked about in these reviews i just want to say i love reading them and thank you my week would go very slowing without them
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