32. “STRANGER IN PARADISE” – TONY BENNETT

Weeks at number one: 2 (13th – 27th May 1955) / Length: 3m05s / Label: Philips

Notable for…being the first song I’ve reviewed partly whilst watching Grand Designs. I don’t watch it that often. It’s not a bad programme by any means, but I’m just trying to watch less TV generally.

MELODY & HARMONY ~ 5 : That the melody seems to have no idea where its headed acts as an embodiment of the wide-eyed bewilderment expressed in the words, ready to change its gaze at the faintest twinkling of a distant star.

WORDS ~ 6 : Cheekily similar to Don Cornell’s Hold My Hand in theme, but you have to applaud the audaciously lame extended rhyming (“stranger in paradise”/”danger in paradise”) and the stratospheric metaphor: “somewhere in space I hang suspended”

VOICE ~ 2 : A higher range than most males singers of the time, apart from the ‘teen idol’ type, and with a passion that tends towards the latter, resulting in the Kirk Van Outen effect: a full-grown man being excessively emotional can sometimes look a bit lame. Plus his strange pronunciation is off-putting. Is it Italo-American? Is that the problem?

STRUCTURE ~ 3 : Waffley as the Birdseye factory

PRODUCTION & ARRANGEMENT ~ 2 : Arrhythmic mess or delicate beauty? You decide.

COOLNESS/STYLE ~ 5 : As with the previous song, there’s a sense of the Sixties approaching, but the kind of lavish, big-budget, loved-up faux-psychedelia that heralded the beginning of the end of a period of genuine innovation, as showbiz recaptured its stranglehold on entertainment. So it’s not very sixties at all, is, I guess, what I’m saying.

ORIGINALITY/NEWNESS ~ 3 : I’m beginning to see that this category is a bit pointless for this time, because originality just wasn’t on the radar at all. This is music aimed at adults who (think they) know what they like, and will buy records that sound like records that they like.

CATCHYNESS ~ 3 : yeah, i mean.. kinda?

CONNECTION/EMOTIONAL HOLD ~ 2 : Maybe it’s because the song is about being wowed to the point of dreamy distraction, but I found that I quite frequent stopped focusing on this song

MORALITY/INTENT ~ 4 : You know those little eye-worms you get that float around when you shut your eyes? I thought that if I ever made a film about a genius composer (Beethoven, Brahms, Lou Bega, etc.), his eye-worms would be in the shape of treble-clefs. Form an orderly queue, wealthy American film producers

OVERALL ~ 36/100

Spotify here, lyrics here, or buy it: CD or mp3

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