Songs that shaped my Artistry
These are some of my favourite songs which have influenced my singing or playing; alphabetically listed - coincidentally, of course.
Alicia Keys – Never Felt this way (interlude)
Written by Brian McKnight, the melodic marriage of piano and voice changed both my vocal behavior and piano playing almost immediately.
Boyz II Men – 4 Seasons of Loneliness
The first Boyz II Men song I heard back in 2003; the falsetto use in this song and the ‘hopelessness in love’ nature of the lyrics stayed with me till basically now.
Brandy – Truthfully
Brandy’s vocals are unmatched, so basically this song told me to shut up, sit down and learn how do music better.
Celine Dion – Because You Loved Me
Another brilliant singer; I included this song because it invokes good memories, and any song that does that is your classic.
Janelle Monae – Say You’ll Go
Fusion of funk, R&B, soul and all things pop - a lesson in subtle but effective production.
John Mayer – If I Could Ever Get Around to Living
When the sun comes out, so does this song. All John Mayer songs are great, but this one relaxes your body and puts you in neutral, which is where all songwriters are at their lethal best.
Kanye West – All of the Lights
Production and beat-making genius. A song to get raved up with.
Laura Mvula – Diamonds
This song has a fresh face and a beautiful message, with an even more beautiful delivery.
Led Zeppelin – The Rain Song
A song for the ages, moods and folk/rock genres. A songwriting masterclass.
Michael Kiwanuka – Always Waiting
This song could be a guitar only instrumental and it would still sing. The album it’s from is a lesson in making a record sound ageless.
Neyo – Sexy Love
Such a good song; just such a good song.
Ray Charles – A Song for You
This man could sing! And play piano well of course. This is my favourite rendition of this song because Ray Charles owns it.
Ryan Adams – For No One (Long and Sad Goodbye)
A song from my student days “studying” late long nights in the library. From the unreleased acoustic album ‘The Suicide Handbook’ (2001) the whole album changed the way I play guitar; and everytime I write a folk track I am probably thinking about this song.
Taylor Swift – Back to December
The production on this track is so good that sometimes I get scared when I think about what another producer would have done with this song. A little scared.
Usher – Can You Help Me
I listened to a lot of Usher in the ‘noughties’ that I can sing every word and vocal flip, trick, run, turn for the 5-and-a-half minutes this song runs. Albeit nowhere near as good, but points for trying.
William Fitzsimmons – Covered in Snow
Another pairing of just an instrument and voice, but that’s the effect of a good song; you can tell a story with little more than 6 strings and tuned percussion.
The obvious truth is that every track I listen to somehow affects the next song I will write, but these are the ones I can consciously trace in my music and style, giving them the credit - and hopefully exposure, they are duly due. Bear in mind this is somewhat a journey into my mind, so tread with care. Melman out.