36. “ROSE MARIE” – SLIM WHITMAN

Weeks at number one: 11(!) (29th July – 14th October) / Length: 2m16s, but that’s just an estimate, because there seem to be an infinite amount of recordings of this song, and I haven’t been able to confirm for sure which one is the chart-topping one / Label: London

Notable for…being number one for pretty much a quarter of a year, and the first number one artist named after a type of physique

MELODY & HARMONY ~ 5 : It uses these chords: I, IV, V, vi, and sometimes III. The best one is the III, cos it’s a little unexpected. But not that unexpected at all really. (If you don’t know which chord it is, it happens at 1:10 in the YouTube one.) This is not interesting for you, I know that. basically i want to be able to hear what chords are in a song without playing along, and at the moment i can’t do that. so i’m gonna try and play along with all the songs and find what chords are in there, and eventually i’ll understand them a bit more and notice them better. so bear with me. The melody is all over the shop.

WORDS ~ 1 : The only line of interest is the faintly angsty “sometimes I wish I’d never met you”, but you get the sense that it was likely a matter of obeying a rhyme-scheme rather than attempting to create even a brief illusion of depth

VOICE ~ 6 : He does some great jumps. I don’t know what the tcchnical term for that is, where you sort of switch from normal voice to falsetto mid-syllable, jumping an octave in the process. Dido does it a lot. Or did. I don’t know what she does now.

STRUCTURE ~ 3 : It’s kind of weird to have the vocals starting where they do: not on the root but on the dominant major, which gives the impression of joining the song halfway through. This can be a great little trick, giving a kind of unescapable, infinite air, but I don’t think it achieves anything here other than being a bit off-putting

PRODUCTION & ARRANGEMENT ~ 5 : I really like the upright piano riffs, which come and go like an efficient waiter: not overbearing, but always arriving exactly when you need him, and sometimes before you even realised you did. The slide guitar is nice here too, like a competent sous-chef

COOLNESS/STYLE ~ 2 : It’s from an operetta written in 1924 and set in the Canadian rockies

ORIGINALITY/NEWNESS ~ 1 : It’s from an operetta written in 1924 and set in the Canadian rockies

CATCHYNESS ~ 3 : There’s too much yodelling to really nail down the tune, and so what sticks are the vocal inflections, but not the song as a whole.

CONNECTION/EMOTIONAL HOLD ~ 3 : Wikipedia says he was labelled ‘countrypolitan’ and that’s really the problem here: he’s too laid back and too assured. He sounds like he’s already got the girl, basically

MORALITY/INTENT ~ 4 : Here’s something: I was just thinking how on the picture in the YouTube video, he looks a bit like John Travolta, and so if anyone should play him in a biopic it should be him. And then I was thinking how John Travolta is a scientologist. And then an advert came up on YouTube for a ‘scientology exposed’ video! This song gives me the creeps

OVERALL ~ 33/100

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

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