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Friday, October 5, 2012

A very quick take on (the first) "A" singles, by Agnetha Fältskog. (Commentary, 3/13)

 3/11/13 update -- Off-site link to a quick, 3/10/13 interview with Ms. Fältskog. (new window opens:) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-21687897    
 Please follow all off-site links carefully, at your own risk...
Blogger note: Please peruse the following linked post (here) for more correct weather details re Agnetha's 1979 "...middle of tornado" U.S. concert flight. (Briefly ref. in the 3/13 BBC article. (It is her storm story though. I 'get' that...)
 Link, new window:http://star4abba.blogspot.com/2009/05/sos-abbas-unfortunate-1979-boston.html 
...Here is another recent article. Fairly decent treatment from a mainstream media source. ...Though Agnetha -stereotypes still creep in at times. Off-site link to 3/13/13 article, new window opens: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2013/mar/13/abba-agnetha-faltskog-returns
 
 
(Continuing, previously-written text; which now (actually) is not going to happen. Pls. read the right side-bar....):)  
We will now return to waiting for the full (official) album release, followed - after enough good listens  - by one last 'listener's review' (of that).

Please come back for the review if you (also) have an interest... 
>>> My own "teaser"(also pls. see further below): The couple of song 'snippets' I've so far heard (which is not nearly enough) are not really what this (one) fan wanted/hoped to hear from the talented, mature singer. (Update: I think she's "got me" with the German-released single (link is to newer post...). Her voice seems to sound at least 'OK' or better so far, though. Perhaps similar in some ways to her 2004 album effort. For this listener, that (voice change from earlier years) is to be expected and is not a 'bad' thing at all. It is likely natural...)
 
>>>But I'm thrilled that usually-quiet (sans spotlight -- suspect this album may - in part - alter that image a bit), veteran-singer Agnetha has made such an effort at all. (This album effort is definitely - in part - about updating/changing an (incorrect, out-of-date) image.)
 And it is her commercial (i.e., for sale), pop-music, artistic output.  (Guided by Jörgen Elofsson, clearly.) I.e., it is Agnetha's art/art form, and there should be no personal (or similar) judgment in that. 
 (When we've heard the new recording) We'll see how this all works out (for the singer). Not too difficult to guess: I think I foresee some success coming (with her album)... Another little 'teaser' "review": The German single (snippet available elsewhere right now (link)) -- is (at least close to) classic Agnetha! (As noted elsewhere (link): It 'screams' "Agnetha"...(e.g., the "torch" singer). 


The primary single/video -- this site (that matters some) seems to like it (off-site link) -- I'm still sorting out a bit. (Stream-of- (un)consciousness follows:)  It's a catchy enough tune.  (Significantly, I now can't get parts of it out of my head...) I assume that the young woman in the video represents...young Agnetha?? (If we're going with a literal interp., part of the video story could even be recording (for "history") that it was (young) Agnetha who 'threw out' young...Bjorn(?)...)
 Lots of drum machine...and other 'stuff' in the background.( Modern 'techno-pop', I suppose)  Agnetha - at moments in the song  - is  'on' a bit about something... (Update: After a number of listens, I think that 'Agnetha sounds like Agnetha' in this song, and I am liking that...) BTW: What is the word that the star sings in the line from the song's chorus, "Well then nothing really _______?"  Lyric sheets I've seen indicate it's supposed to be "matters", but does not sound like that word at all -- to me. More like; "burns", or "earns" or...what??) 
 . 
The produced video (though tame by today's 'standards') is (of course) not (depicting) a happy story...But on the other hand -- a 'dual-nature' characteristic sooo much  a key aspect of this performer -- we have Agnetha's appealing voice, a generally appealing song....
And literal appearances are: We have a beautiful blonde singer still nursing a broken heart, from ""a fairy-tale story" 1970s marriage(?) -- without a happy ending...". And "no one" (chanted several times over by the singer) can take 'his' place...Literally taken (unless I'm just not 'getting it' at all): It's sad!  Wait: Up-beat, catchy song creation, but with a sad 'message'....hmmmm (link).)   
Update: It has been similarly commented elsewhere at some point I believe: The 'WYRLS' song performance/video combination -- Agnetha clasping her hands to her heart, etc. -- a fine sample of "torch singer extraordinaire" Agnetha Fältskog 


>>>We will give the singer's album a fair listen here. Each listener will decide now for themselves what they think,what appeals, etc....(I'm going to wait for my copy of "A" to arrive...)

ALSO, FWIW: The (apparent) 'A' album title would place Agnetha's at the top of many alphabetical (album) title listings. (Intentionally(?) or not...)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
(Previously written text, 2012:) October, 2012: ...I have been away on vacation....

....And have returned to the best news. (One forum link is below.)  Like all of her fans I will be closely following this music story.  (Uhh....from afar, of course.)

It is great news. Just fantastic that Agnetha appears to have confidence in her voice (etc.) and is giving it another go. 
No matter what the motivation may be I think she's a great lady for doing that....

(Continuing previously written text:) FWIW, note to readers: This website ('blog') plans to focus primarily upon on music aspects of Agnetha's anticipated release. Plenty of other options are available for news, rumors and so on....
Update (also 'FWIW'): Upon its (expected 2013) release, a brief, civil "listener's review" of Agnetha's new recording will follow here. (Shortly after I am able to purchase a copy....) Which, of course will contain no (extraneous) 'judgement(s)' of the artist herself (within the review). E.g., a "mini-review" somewhat similar to this older post (link). 

(It's an old pic. but we'll put it up anyway. Update: A recent photo of the star -- honoring "some up-and-comer" with a backstage visit -- is linked here (new window opens). And another link for some good newer pics.):

(Agnetha Fältskog, ABBA, Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway, 28 January 1977, by Helge Øverås
No affiliation, no endorsement of this website implied.)

P.S. I am very happy to (apparently) have been incorrect with one guess/prediction about Agnetha's singing again, via this post (link): http://star4abba.blogspot.com/2009/07/closing-post-abba-agnetha.html
As noted here previously (link), the lady does come up with surprises from time to time. 

Updated note: Comments below expand upon this post.(As a (belated) 'preface' (to those), I'm adding this 2004 quotation (date approximate), attributed to Ms. Fältskog's agent/spokesperson, Staffan Lindé. It's out-of-context, but a good summation of the professional singer, perhaps even today:)

 "Staffan Lindé was asked: How does Agnetha view her career these days? [Insert: Around 2004 when My Colouring Book was coming out...]

"I think she views her "career" as finished. But she's still a divinely gifted singer, and she still has a lot to give musically, it's the next step for her, a new direction. It's not about fame, not that it ever was", he says. At the same time she's her own worst critic....""
(Link to source)

16 comments:

  1. Hi there,
    A great blog you got! I thoroughly enjoyed your detailed discussions and analysis of Agnetha's great voice and her talents and abilities (I'm a big fan as well).

    I wrote a post on abba4ever.com on my thoughts about her upcoming album in light of her latest efforts from 2004, and I would like to know your opinion (it wasn't received well by other fans...)

    My nick is Fafner and my post is somewhere near the bottom of the page (and the next page as well):
    http://www.iphpbb.com/board/ftopic-30652567nx61610-12943-60.html

    thanks.

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    1. Hi Fafner: Thank you for your comment. As you can tell I seem to have the capacity to ramble endlessly about this talented popular singer. (Agnetha.) So let me (for a change) try to be slightly more succinct with this response. Still, it looks like I'll need to break my return comments into at least two parts. (Space limits.)
      Here is part 1:

      I'm doing a bit of catch-up right now, but have read recent comments from you and other fans on 'abba4ever.com' and enjoyed/appreciated them all.

      - I'm guessing but it sounds as though you may be a bit more knowledgeable about voice and singing than at least some fans -- including myself. Though I have some long-ago music training (on an instrument), if you've viewed my blogger profile you know that I don't consider myself a music/singing expert at all. Like many fans I enjoy listening to a fine voice like Agnetha's, and I've tried to express my thoughts and feelings about it. (Plus a few other, from-afar perceptions about the singing star herself, obviously.)

      - Also before going on any further here, at this point we do not really know what Ms. Fältskog/Jörgen Elofsson are going to attempt. There are numerous possibilities, already being speculated upon at 'abba4ever'.

      - You also see that 'abba4ever' is primarily a fan forum, where some of the world's most ardent - and knowledgeable - fans participate. (Most are knowledgeable about the artists and what they have accomplished.) As a belated fan I have learned much reading/commenting at the various forums there.
      It is mainly a fan forum though, featuring devotees from all "walks of life". In that environment critical, (mostly) objective commentary/analysis is not always well received. I don't think that that is a main reason for most fan/posters to "hang out" there. Some just like interacting with other fans like themselves.
      ...I'd hasten to add though that 'abba4ever' is definitely one of the more polite/considerate/well-moderated fan forums that I've seen. And, as you may know more in-depth "top-100" fan song lists (for example) are available there as well.
      (Comment part 2 is next...)
      --"belated1" (my 'abba4ever' forum name)

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    2. Comment/response continued, part 2:


      - All of that said (sorry for the lengthiness), singing professionally at age 62 is probably taking something of a risk - I agree with you there. I'm not too much younger than Ms. Fältskog and think I've still got a lot, but I don't believe there is any way that Agnetha can - or should - try to match
      herself from her twenties or thirties. My instinct (FWIW)is that she probably will not try to. (Or attempt to be Britany Spears (please God) or whatever...)

      Two additional quick points: I've mentioned a few times in this blog that I find Agnetha's "lower voice" (her term, I once read) to be surprisingly strong (for a pop soprano). This is subjective but especially as she has matured, I find it to be the best/most effective vocal "region" for her. I wonder how that lower voice capability is these days and if she may choose to rely upon it more.
      Who knows (except Agnetha)? We shall see....

      Also, as you may know the great Barbra Streisand produced an album a few years ago at age 67. I'm not sure if it sold well but one or two critical reviews that I saw were generally favorable. Was she the Barbra from age 27 or 37? Of course not. But - if I can say it right - I thought that she was still
      unmistakably Barbra, but perhaps in a different, though naturally evolved way.

      I've rambled on much too long again and likely have not completely responded to everything that you commented upon in the forum. I'll conclude by saying that ultimately - at this (early) point - I agree with a comment made by
      "drimnagh" (also on the "Agnetha recording again" forum topic):

      "Upon reflection, I have faith in Agnetha. I trust her and her judgment in this. I believe she knows what she's doing or she wouldn't have undertaken it."

      We'll see how this Agnetha effort turns out. She has (had) such a wonderful voice that she can sing just about anything for me, but that also means that she has set a "high bar" (for me and other fans), as well.

      --"belated1"

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    3. (pt.1) Thank you for your detailed response. Neither am I a musician nor a vocal expert, though I took a few courses on music in the university. My musical tests are mainly classical music and opera, and only through ABBA I began to take pop music seriously. So bear in mind that I know very little about pop singing (and pop singers), and my conceptions of "correct" singing are largely opera-oriented.

      I have no issue with abba4ever, and indeed the people there are really nice and polite, and I had some interesting discussions there. But they made me wondering whether my comments were too harsh and disrespectful toward Agnetha, though I was concentrating only on the musical/artistic side (a criticism that seems legit to me). The odd thing is that nobody has really noticed that something went seriously wrong with "my colouring book" or the way in which Agnetha's vocal delivery changed. The first time that I heard the album I barely recognized her voice, yet it seems that everyone is perfectly happy with the way she sings there.

      So you are correct that she sings mostly in her "low voice" throughout the album, but I don't agree that she should do that. Her low register is indeed very beautiful and warm, but not very well supported like Frida's (sometimes it's quite shaky like in Chiquitita), but on MCB she produces a very breathy and barely supported sound which mixed very loud and in an unnatural way (listen to "What now my love", where she is almost whispering in falsetto, yet she is audible over the thick accompaniment). Now, she used this kind of sound in the past (the quite intro of "kisses of fire", the first verse of "Chiquitita", "I've been waiting for you", beginning of "eyes of a woman", "Maybe it was magic", "If you need somebody tonight" etc.), but it was always for some expressive purpose, and she usually switched to a higher position chest voice or her head voice in the course of the song.

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    4. (pt. 2) In MCB she sings this way almost constantly, and to my mind it comes out very flat and dull, because it's a weak and unsupported sound (i.e not enough breath to close the vocal chords completely, so some air escapes creating a "whisper"), which lacks the colour of her "real" voice. Sometimes it works like in "I can't reach your heart", and maybe other people like it, but I personally don't want Agnetha to sing in a Frank Sinatra voice! In my opinion Agnetha's most beautiful and expressive voice is the higher position and fully supported sound, that brings out her gorgeous timbre with that distinct silvery "ring" which defines for me her voice. Some of the numerous examples of her "real" low voice are the first verse of "the winner takes it all", her solo line after Frida in "the way old friends do (beginning with "and after fights..."), "the queen of hearts", the chorus of "soldiers" (especially "they blow their horns and march along..." parts), and that awesome low note on "stand by my side" on 3:07-3:13 (the word "mind"(!), perhaps her lowest fully sung note on record?).

      When she does use her "real" voice on MCB the difference is striking. The opening track is a case in point. Listen to 1:34-1:54 and 2:20-2:43 when she switches her dull sounding chest voice to a more supported head voice that has a completely different timbre. Another example in "Love me with all your heart" when she goes from a chest voice on "just promise me this..." (0:16) to a richer sound on "every winter every summer..." (0:22), and then her registers just break in a middle of the word "me" (0:34-35). Same thing happens on "don't give me your love..." beginning on 0:43. In my opinion it just sounds weird and inconsistent, and a shame that she didn't use her richer middle voice sound that is beautifully showcased on the "eyes of a woman" album (as you pointed out in one of your posts). I won't say that she can't sing like that because of her age, but I do think that she was too cautious on MCB (perhaps understandable after all the years of silence), but I afraid that she will do pretty much the same thing on the next album because I guess it's going to be even harder for her to sing in a consistent and supported sound at the age of 62.

      And finally, sorry for the lengthiness and my bad English (it's not my first language).

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  2. Oh, and BTW, I forgot one of the best examples of Agnetha in her most consistent and well supported sound is (the vomit inducing)- "wrap your arms around me" (I mean the song itself). In that recording she connects wonderfully her chest and head voice and produces this gorgeous and even sound from the top to button, with some almost operatic head voice (not belted!) high notes.

    (yet another example of her sweet and rich chest voice is the verses in "move on")

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    1. Fafner: Thank you for your latest comments. I think I have read them closely. (And bilingual (at least) persons always earn respect from me...)
      BTW: My previous comments on this subject did not incl. my impressions about (Agnetha's voice/singing on) 'My Colouring Book' as I wanted not to carry on to long (as I tend to), and also I do not own a copy of that album. (Maybe a surprise there. More is below.)

      (Part 1 follows.)
      Before going on further I'm just going to reiterate two of my previous points up-front: As you know, none of us really know at this point what Agnetha has in mind for her upcoming effort. (She has mentioned "Swedish ballads" as a possibility in past interviews.) Or what shape her voice is in these days. Ultimately, I guess we'll just have to wait and see...
      And as noted, I'm still inclined to trust Ms. Fältskog as a professional singer. (Quick aside: In her 1996 bio ('As I Am') I believe Agnetha wrote this....(Yes, it is out-of-context but I think still significant.): “My professional persona never loosens its grip, keeping an eye on me at all times.”
      Of course I don't know for sure but my guess/hope is that she remains something of the same "girl" as that comment might indicate. ('Female professional singing artist' is what I mean, of course.))....

      Moving on and excerpting a few of your words (above): "...In my opinion Agnetha's most beautiful and expressive voice is the higher [voice] position and fully supported sound, that brings out her gorgeous timbre with that distinct "silvery" ring which defines for me her voice."

      --- We are - as you know - getting into individual, somewhat more subjective (vs. objective) thoughts/impressions here. Listeners are going to hear (aspects of) a singer/voice a little differently, for themselves, etc. etc.
      But that "silvery ring" of Agnetha's... I hear it too and I TOTALLY agree with you: It could be the very best feature (of several) of her voice/singing. Part of why - I think - I also like to say that her voice "shines" at times.

      Another comment excerpt: "...The odd thing is that nobody noticed that something went seriously wrong with "My colouring book" or the way in which Agnetha's vocal delivery changed. The first time I heard the album I barely recognized her voice...to my mind it comes out very flat and dull, because it's a weak and unsupported sound..." (End of part 1.)

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    2. (Part 2)

      --- A few thoughts/responses here for you: First, I can think of one professional music critic who might disagree some with you (re 'seriously wrong'). Link to Richard Williams' 2011 music post ("The Guardian" (U.K.)) is in this blog's "2011 update: Ms. Fältskog" post (1/3/11), if you haven't read that. I'll add however that a number of comment-ers to his article basically questioned Mr. Williams' sanity. Obviously I'm not one of them.
      Second - as noted - I don't own 'MCB'. My general opinion is that all of Ms. Fältskog's in-English, post-ABBA solo efforts are uneven: A few great overall singing efforts/song choices/results, many (unfortunately) kind of "bland"/not reflecting her talents and in the middle, and a few not-too-great. But the one thing that often "saved things"/overrides for me was/is Agnetha's special voice. As you appreciate, it can make a mediocre song much better, can excel in different ways within a single song, etc. etc.

      So, I'm at a distinct disadvantage in that I've mainly listened to generally poor audio quality (YouTube) versions of Agnetha 'MCB' songs. (BTW: I do own all three of Agnetha's 1980's solo albums.) I believe I read that Agnetha wanted 'MCB' to (mainly) be a tribute to her various singing idols that she grew up with and emulated, and that she was not concerned about 'MCB''s commercial success. I think I admire that, but it also meant that many of its songs just weren't (going to be) my "thing"...so I never purchased it.

      Trying to compensate for that disadvantage, I've gone back and listened to Agnetha on several of her 'MCB' songs again - with your comments in mind. I think I can say that I can hear some of what you are referring to. With a few exceptions where I still hear hints of it (e.g., last chorus of 'If I Thought You'd Ever...'), Agnetha's "silvery ring" (generally) is reduced. (Mainly in comparison to past efforts though.) (End of part 2.)

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    3. (Part 3)

      (I gotta start wrapping this up...) I'm not enough of a vocal/singing expert to pinpoint it, or properly identify the cause, so I'll just describe 'MCB''s Agnetha as (generally) SOMEWHAT more "hoarse", "scratchy(?)", or throaty with her singing/voice, than younger Agnetha seemed to be. (I detect occasional "breathy-ness" as well. "Dull"? Perhaps by clear/bright-voiced, younger Agnetha ('HIGH-BAR') standards...) I'm sure that my terms (e.g., slightly "hoarse") are not technically correct but I'll go with them.

      Here's where I think we two, individual listeners just may differ, or have different perceptions. (We're also listening more closely than most I'd guess, and may be holding mature pop singer Agnetha to rather formidable comparisons...): I pretty much LIKE that touch of "hoarseness"/throaty-ness with older Agnetha. It is not off-putting to me. I do not find it a major flaw or impediment. At certain 'MCB' moments - whatever it is - sounded a little intimate/sexy to me...

      Maybe this is, in part, from the context in which I happen(ed) to be listening (to her). I.e., I knew Ms. Fältskog was older (54 at the time) and I probably expected some changes to her voice/sound. As I mentioned previously re Barbra Streisand at age 67: Changes in voice/delivery "abilities" over time - to me - are to be expected. It's probably mostly natural. Is that not the same for most veteran opera singers? I just was not expecting (either of) them to sound or sing like they did when quite a bit younger. (More follows further below about this.)

      Overall, both Barbra and Agnetha still sounded very much like themselves to me, if you know what I mean, even though different from younger versions of themselves. I found it interesting to hear them as they sing now. Generally, still sounded quite good to me....but that's just my opinion/impression. (End of part 3).

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    4. (Last part of response.) If I'm reading correctly you're suggesting that at least PART of Agnetha's perceived vocal ...ummm disappointments(?) on 'MCB' arise from possibly being "too cautious", yielding inconsistent and "unsupported" vocals at times. I cannot say that I disagree, but I'm not expert enough to go much further there. And I think only Agnetha actually knows what she's capable/competent with (re singing) as she's reached her fifties and sixties. I'd also add that - as previously noted - 'MCB' in part was meant to be a tribute to 1950s-60s (in-English) singers that Agnetha admired and emulated. On certain 'MCB' songs, is it possible that Agnetha may have been affecting certain singing styles/efforts, to sound a little bit like some of them? If so, that may not have "worked" completely as she still sounds very much to me like mature Agnetha on all songs. But you know that at one time Agnetha could credibly conjure (aspects of) her idol Connie Francis (a soprano version thereof...), and once offered a humorous/pretty accurate 'Doris Day' rendition of ABBA's "Thank You for the Music".

      BTW: I also noted in one blog post here that I found Ms. Fältskog's usually-smooth English (language) lyrics pronunciation to sound a bit jarring at moments on 'MCB'. It's speculation (again) but perhaps Agnetha had not been using English (in 2004) as much as she previously did in the 1970s-80s...? If she lacked some (previous) confidence with her English pronunciations in songs, that could contribute to perceived "cautiousness" at times.

      In the end, my guess/hope is that Ms. Fältskog understands all of this, and might at least consider "staying within her current self" (still likely considerable) in her upcoming effort.
      Agnetha mentioned (as I recall) in a fairly recent interview - which included a question about ABBA's enduring appeal - that both her's and Frida's voices "...were on top", back then (w/ABBA). So it may be Agnetha has an appreciation of that, herself.

      It's never going to be the 1970's-'80s again for her - or the rest of us. But (as you can tell) I'm pleased that this still-appealing professional singer feels confident and motivated enough to return to the studio. Some of us thought we would never 'see' that again....

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    5. BTW: I'll add that I also agree there is little question that Frida (of ABBA) was - at least - the stronger singer in many live concerts. Part of this may have been that Ms. Fältskog was bothered by nerves in some such performances. Agnetha acknowledges this in 1996's bio, 'As I Am.'

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  3. (pt.1)
    I'm very sorry for my late response because I was very busy lately (I'm a student and I have tons of papers to submit, though it's more fun to write about Agnetha's voice...)

    Back to the topic, you made some very good points.
    I agree that it's inappropriate to speculate about what an unreleased future album would sound like without hearing a note from it, because obviously nobody knows that beside Agnetha and her team (btw, Benny allegedly has listened to some of the material and he said it's very good and "modern"). But what really interested me were your thoughts about MCB, and I've enjoyed reading them.

    "--- We are - as you know - getting into individual, somewhat more subjective (vs. objective) thoughts/impressions here. Listeners are going to hear (aspects of) a singer/voice a little differently, for themselves, etc. etc."
    I agree that what I'm saying reflects my personal taste and preferences, and also what is a "good" or a "correct" singing depends on what kind of music you are performing. It actually crossed my mind that perhaps it was a conscious decision by Agnetha to match her vocal style to the particular kind of music she is singing (as you suggested). I have no idea how these songs sounded in their original versions (I wasn't familiar with any of them before I heard MCB), but perhaps the style that Agnetha chose for MCB was more appropriate for this kind of music than say ABBA's. Having said that, here are some remarks on "breathy" singing by a professional vocal teacher that I found on his blog: (http://www.singwise.com/cgi-bin/main.pl?section=articles&doc=GoodToneProductionForSinging)

    "Breathiness is not considered to be an ideal mode of phonation [singing] because it distorts vocal resonance, robbing the voice of its full overtones. The breathy voice generally lacks the beautiful “ring” that is commonly heard in trained voices, and volume is lost because of the imbalanced resonance.

    Moreover, because the air escapes rapidly through the gap between the vocal folds, the lungs empty quickly, and the sound is of short duration. In other words, breathy singers tends to have less endurance and are unable to sing long vocal phrases or sustain notes for several measures because they run out of breath too quickly. Because the supply of breath has to be renewed so frequently, the singer’s respiration also tends to be short and unsteady."

    As I've said, I'm not a vocal expert but here's someone who is, and he actually agrees with me about the tonal qualities of a poorly supported singing (or the lack of thereof). The most interesting remark is in the second paragraph where he talks about the difficulty of sustaining long phrases. It's actually something that I wanted to point out as well, because I think that it's exactly what happens on Agnetha's last record. Agnetha's phrasing is very choppy, she has difficulties with holding long notes, and sometime it feels as if she runs out of air (listen to the ending of the phrases). And this is very sad because her phrasing was always impeccable and she had an amazing ability to sustain long musical phrases and shape them so beautifully and artistically (not to mention the very long notes she was able to hold).

    Moreover, if you read the full article in the link above (highly recommended by the way), he mentions some psychological reasons that cause singers to sing this way, and I suspect that some of them might also explain why Agnetha chose to sing with this "breathy" voice on MCB (actually in my previous comment I said similar things about her possible insecurity after her long refrain from singing). But as I've said above, it might be a conscious decision, though I believe it's less likely.

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  4. (pt.2)
    "I pretty much LIKE that touch of "hoarseness"/throaty-ness with older Agnetha. It is not off-putting to me. I do not find it a major flaw or impediment. At certain 'MCB' moments - whatever it is - sounded a little intimate/sexy to me..."

    Yes, there's nothing "objectively" wrong about that or another way of singing as long as you enjoy it. I personally hate a lot of modern pop singers precisely because I find their voices throaty and hoarse (though I don't think it's the most appropriate terms to describe Agnetha's voice on MCB, I would rather call it "low-key" or "overly cautious"), yet other people think that they sing beautifully (like for example I don't understand all the fuss around Adele). I don't find Agnetha's singing on MCB particularly sexy or intimate, and as I wrote on the ABBA forum, she sounds in my opinion like an old lady that tries desperately to sound young, and the whole thing just makes me a bit uncomfortable (in comparison to her real sexy and seductive sound that she had in the 70's-80's). But those are more of my personal subjective feelings and I fully aware that other people think differently, but I do believe that once you listen carefully and critically the shortcomings become quite obvious (especially the technical ones).
    (btw, you can download a pirate copy of MCB on the net if you don't mind about that kind of things).

    "Is that not the same for most veteran opera singers? I just was not expecting (either of) them to sound or sing like they did when quite a bit younger."

    Absolutely, opera singers usually in their 60's don't sound as good as they sounded when they were younger, and therefore they usually retire (or at least should) around that age (maybe giving occasionally some recitals). It's sad, but I do believe that singers should retire when their voice begins to deteriorate (in opera it's especially embarrassing what happens to your voice when you age). I certainly don't want Agnetha to embarrass herself and spoil the good memories, so I won't mind if she will stop recording altogether if MCB is the best she can do (of course I'm not claiming that the next album must be embarrassing or will sound like MCB). Also, I must confess that I don't trust her musical taste given her choice of material in the 80's, and therefore I'm not that optimistic about the next album as some fans are (who totally trust everything she does as someone said on the forum).

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  5. (pt.3)
    "My general opinion is that all of Ms. Fältskog's in-English, post-ABBA solo efforts are uneven: A few great overall singing efforts/song choices/results, many (unfortunately) kind of "bland"/not reflecting her talents and in the middle, and a few not-too-great. But the one thing that often "saved things"/overrides for me was/is Agnetha's special voice. As you appreciate, it can make a mediocre song much better, can excel in different ways within a single song, etc. etc."

    I agree that musically speaking, her post-ABBA albums are extremely uneven. But now after some close and attentive listening for the past few weeks I came to the conclusion that her 80's albums are actually her best efforts in vocal terms. Now I believe that in the 80's she was at the peak of her vocal abilities, and she actually sounds batter on those albums than she did on most of her ABBA work. By that time her voice has acquired a more rich and mature sound (not "old" sounding but less child-like in comparison to her pre/early ABBA work for example), and perhaps she has improved her technique (actually her voice changed in that direction already around the time of recording "super trouper"). Also, I think that her solo albums do more justice to her voice (again in vocal terms not musical\artistic) because her voice is not pushed there as hard as B&B used to do (much less chest belting), she is no longer used just as an "instrument", and she doesn't have to compete with Frida's (bigger) voice. Maybe it's a sacrilege for an ABBA fan to say that Agnetha wasn't at her best with ABBA (though of course she was waaay batter than most other singers around, it's only in comparison to her older self) but the truth is that singers rarely develop fully until their 30's and I think Agnetha wasn't an exception. I would like to hear what you think about this subject (i.e Agnetha's best years).

    " BTW: I'll add that I also agree there is little question that Frida (of ABBA) was - at least - the stronger singer in many live concerts. Part of this may have been that Ms. Fältskog was bothered by nerves in some such performances. Agnetha acknowledges this in 1996's bio, 'As I Am.'"

    I don't think it's only the nervousness. Even on the studio recordings Frida's voice sometimes overshadows Agnetha's (especially in the choruses). When they sing in unison I can hear more of Frida's timbre than Agnetha's despite the fact that a soprano voice should sound more prominent then a mezzo in the middle-high tessitura (of course it not always the case, sometime Agnetha's voice does have the edge, say in "dancing queen"). What it shows is that Frida may had a batter breath supporting technique possibly due to her jazz background, though I have to listen more closely because their voices blended together very well and sometimes it's very difficult to tell them apart (that famous "third voice"), and there was a lot of overdubs and studio manipulations that may gave Frida some advantage.

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  6. Fafner: Thank you for your latest comments. I believe that they are well-considered, expressed well.
    I will visit the link you provided (part 1). Otherwise, I'll just add for now that I think we are in overall agreement that Ms. Fältskog was likely at her best as a younger singer, as we've noted in previous comments.
    FWIW: A couple of my lengthy posts here also briefly extoll some (perceived) virtues of Agnetha as a more mature solo singer in the 1980s. (I.e., as an age 'thirty-something'. One sample: 2009 post title, "Solo Agnetha: The best post-ABBA song? Many.")
    BTW: ABBA expert Carl Magnus Palm - I believe - further wrote (in "Bright Lights Dark Shadows") that Benny and Bjorn sometimes pushed the ABBA singers' limits in the studio. Benny, in particular, reportedly wanted the ladies to sing as high-ly as they could on certain songs (w/ABBA), in part because he was a fan of the Beach Boys, their high harmonies, etc. As noted in my post (ref. above), my guess is that Agnetha was able to relax a little more and sing as she wished to/felt was best in (at least some of) her '80s solo efforts. (Plus I speculate that her voice was evolving, maturing...)

    As you can clearly tell I certainly understand how enjoyable it is to write about Ms. Fältskog -- even if (at least) some of my own thoughts and impressions are ultimately speculative/relying upon insight. (I wasn't "there" of course. Plus as can be read throughout this site, while I was (fortunate to be) experiencing a lot of great music during the time period, I did not start enjoying ABBA/Agnetha until many years later.)
    Even years on now, I (like others) find Agnetha to be an inspiring performer, an inspiring voice, and even an inspiring (though usually low-profile) person.
    P.S. As also noted several times here, I am a very big Frida "fan" also. I think she was a fine pop (jazz) mezzo-soprano singer; a perfect partner with Agnetha (in a few ways). (BTW: I know you are busy, but have you ever had a chance to read Christopher Patrick's book, "ABBA: Let the Music Speak"? If not, I think you would enjoy it. Chris is a professional and goes into entertaining detail about ABBA's music/singing.)
    Ultimately, I cannot fully explain (though I've tried here) why Agnetha's voice often "grabs" or affects me more. (It's not just that she's a (pop) soprano...) In the end, just a personal preference I think. Nothing to do with comparative singing abilities....

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  7. 2/13 -- A belated (blog writer) comment in association with those above:
    I have not verified it, but it appears that previous commenter 'Fafner' may author an outstanding YouTube channel -- especially for ABBA/Agnetha fans who enjoy higher-quality audio/visual offerings (there).
    Unable to link directly via the 'Comments' option here but the YT channel is entitled 'ABBA in HQ'. URL: http://www.youtube.com/user/Fafner888

    It's definitely worth a look/listen....

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