Tuesday, July 26, 2011
"Rome, Italian Style" Track of the Day: Goldfrapp, "Lovely Head"
Why's it part of the "Rome, Italian Style" playlist?: Trouser Press came up with a good shorthand description for "Lovely Head," the first single off the duo Goldfrapp's debut album Felt Mountain: "If Lee Van Cleef had ever romanced Shirley Bassey, 'Lovely Head,' which sounds like a score in search of a Sergio Leone film, would have been their song."
Ennio Morricone's influence on Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, which they acknowledged in the Felt Mountain liner notes with their shout-outs to Morricone and Leone, is most evident in "Lovely Head." There's whistling, harpsichords, percussion reminiscent of Il Maestro's Sicilian Clan main title theme and a vocal effect that's as bizarre as the coyote howls in the Good, the Bad and the Ugly score, but it's more of a Goldfrapp touch than a Morricone touch. Goldfrapp, who provides the whistling during "Lovely Head," makes her voice sound remarkably like a theremin(*), with the help of a synthesizer that distorts her vocals (her theremin-like howls also turn up during another Felt Mountain cut and "Rome, Italian Style" Track of the Day, "Pilots").
(*) In his intro for the TCM Essentials Jr. broadcast of the theremin-filled Thing from Another World a couple of days ago, host Bill Hader said, "Transformers would be so much better with a theremin." True that.
"Lovely Head" also channels the grandiose sound of the secondary themes John Barry composed for either 007's love interests or the foreign destinations where 007 would shag those love interests. The Bondian strings and drums of "Lovely Head" inspired a YouTuber to replace "All Time High," one of Barry's weakest Bond ballads, with "Lovely Head" in the Octopussy opening titles.