I can’t imagine there are many people who don’t love some form of music and if you have followed this blog for any considerable length of time you may be aware that I’m a huge fan of…
The power ballad.
Obviously not a specific genre of music, but that’s the beauty of a power ballad, you can find great examples throughout almost all genres including; Country, Soul, Pop, Dance, Jazz, Rock, R&B, Gospel and Indie music, not to mention the incredible vocal artists past and present that include Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Price, Mariah Carey, Maria Callas, Aretha Franklin, Jazmine Sullivan, Adele, Patsy Cline, Anita Baker, Edith Piaf and Ariana Grande to mention a few.
But what is it about listening to a power ballad that somehow manages to uplift both the soul of my heart and the heart of my soul? You might be surprised to know it isn’t always hearing a singer belt out the big power note, as Mariah Carey’s classic 1993 ballad “Hero” wouldn’t work if she sang every note with full force.
What makes a power ballad really work are the pauses and the silence. If you are unsure of what I speak of just listen to the tender control of the 42 second acapella intro of Whitney Houston’s rendition of I Will Always Love You.
Or the integral one second pause (at 3:51) just before the soul searing 12 second power note delivered by Jennifer Holiday from the 1982 classic And I Am Telling You.
Or in the case of singer Loren Allred ending the incredible song Never Enough on a note so tender not only could I feel it’s loving embrace, but I wanted more…
I don’t speak as a music critic or someone who has ever studied music theory, but as a man with a deep appreciation of the dynamic range of the female vocalist.
What makes a power ballad really work is the nuance and the varied tonal range you experience within a song. The key changes, the high note, the build-up, the low note, the pause. It’s a combination of all these elements that make the sustained high note shine even brighter and give value and meaning to the song.
So, imagine we applied the same sensibilities to human beings?
Our poor serving mass media (and perhaps society at large) have influenced us to believe that people, situations or circumstances come in easily characterised, convenient bite sized categories and there is a sweeping assumption that all individuals within an identified collective can only think one way.
I love Trump! (yeah, I said it!) I think that Donald Trump is one of the most fascinating and entertaining US presidents in history! I love his arrogance and his complete disregard of political protocol…the man is refreshing and seems more relatable than the vast number of politicians that have previously sat in the oval office.
But does this mean I love his policies? Does that mean I like the language he uses? Do I agree with his stance on US gun control? Does this mean I think he should spend so much time on Twitter?
My thoughts and opinions have a right to breathe, grow evolve and change, as the “average” human brain has an estimated 100 billion brain cells. So it makes sense not to get to stuck in a rigid way of thinking and question my own set of ideals on what I believe to be true.
Lately I’ve been watching a range of interviews from a broad spectrum of opinion including names like Thomas Sowell, Blaire White, Russel Brand, Ben Shapiro, Candice Owens, Jordan Peterson, Colion Noir and Coleman Hughes and I only mention these names because they represent very diverse thought and opinion…
But despite consuming such a diverse topical diet, the one thing the aforementioned individuals had in common is they tended to broadly categorise people whose perspectives differ from their own. Freely using generalisations such as; the liberals, the left, the right, the feminists, the rich, the poor, the radicals, the environmentalists, the blacks, the whites, the asians…etc…etc. The minor issue I have is that no matter the categorised term used, this doesn’t mean a broad collective think and feel the same way.
For example, let’s take the ridiculously full title of LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, and pansexual…for those who are curious?) which is a category that throws anyone who is not heterosexual into a miscellaneous heap. Of course, there are societal prejudices that should be addressed but does anyone think the societal issues of a gay or lesbian person are the same as a transgender person? Or that an asexual person is looking for the same sense of identity as that of a pansexual?
No matter how many new sexualities/categories emerge, putting those into a group will not change the fact there is an internal diversity of thought and opinion within those groups.
So, if I happen to come across a married, black, male comic book nerd, from South London in his 40’s, with three children who was raised by a single parent and has a deep love of power ballads…that doesn’t mean we will view the world through the same lens just because of our shared criteria. Diversity is more than being able to externally identify and classify different groups, it’s truly understanding no two people are alike even if they share more than one generalised classification because just like a power ballad an individual has range, tenderness, power and nuance.
Until next time.