Definitions

song

song

[sawng, song]
song, relatively brief, simple vocal composition, usually a setting of a poetic text, often strophic, for accompanied solo voice. The song literature of Western music embodies two broad classifications—folk song and art song.

Apart from the recently discovered cuneiform tablet containing a song from the Middle East of the 2d millennium B.C., now thought to be the oldest notated music known, and apart from ancient Greek song (see Greek music), the manuscripts of which are lost, the first outstanding examples of art song before the baroque period are those of the troubadours, trouvères, minnesingers, and meistersingers. The refined, lyrical air de cour of late 16th-century France, for one or more voices with lute accompaniment, provided the inspiration for the ayre composed by the early 17th-century English lutenists, among whom were John Dowland, Thomas Campion, and Thomas Morley.

The Italians centered their principal attention upon the development of the opera. The principle of accompanied monody, which originated in Italy and is inseparable from the early development of opera, also marked the beginning of modern accompanied song, although the speech rhythms of recitative and the elaborateness of most opera arias are usually thought of as being beyond the realm of song. A direct influence is shown in the German lied of the 17th cent., a monodic song with a basso continuo accompaniment. Outstanding among earlier examples are the Arien of Heinrich Albert (1604-51) and those of Adam Krieger (1634-66).

The German romantic lieder of the 19th cent., in which the vocal line and the piano accompaniment are of equal musical significance, are considered to be among the finest of all art songs. The lied style was articulated by Schubert and developed further by Schumann, Brahms, and Hugo Wolf. Among the poets whose lyrics they used were Goethe, Chamisso, Eichendorff, Rückert, Wilhelm Müller, Heine, and Mörike. Among modern German songs those of Hindemith and of Schoenberg are outstanding. Some of these require the technique of Sprechstimme, a pitched declamation that is a hybrid of song and speech.

In France a renewed interest in song composition began in the 19th cent. with Berlioz and was continued in the works of Franck, Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, and Poulenc. The foremost Russian composers of the genre include Glinka, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Gretchaninov, and Glière. The dramatic songs of Moussorgsky are particularly significant. In the United States the songs of Stephen Foster had such national appeal as to become incorporated into the folk tradition. Charles Ives brought a striking originality to the modern American art song.

See ballad; carol; chantey; hymn; plainsong; rock music; and spiritual. See also birdsong.

Bibliography

See P. Warlock, The English Ayre (1926); E. Schumann, German Song (1948); S. Kagen, Music for the Voice (1949); D. Ivey, Song: Anatomy, Imagery, and Styles (1970); D. Stevens, ed., A History of Song (1960, rev. 1970); H. T. Finck, Songs and Song Writers (1900, repr. 1973); J. Hall, Art Song (1974); M. Booth, The Experience of Songs (1981); S. S. Prawer, The Penguin Book of Lieder (1987); R. Lissauer, The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (1991, rev. ed. 1996).

song, bird: see birdsong.

Short and usually simple piece of music for voice, with or without instrumental accompaniment. Folk songs—traditional songs without a known composer transmitted orally rather than in written form—have existed for millennia but have left few traces in ancient sources. Virtually all known preliterate societies have a repertory of songs. Folk songs often accompany religious ceremonies, dancing, labour, or courting; they may tell stories or express emotions; the music follows obvious conventions and is often repetitive. Songs written by a particular composer or poet generally are more sophisticated and are not attached to activities. In the West the continuous tradition of secular art songs began with the troubadours, trouvères, and minnesingers of the 12th–13th centuries. Polyphonic songs, originating in the motet, began to appear in the 13th century. Composers of the 14th century produced a great body of polyphonic songs in the formes fixes. Later the Italian madrigal became the most distinguished genre. Notated accompaniments to solo songs appeared in the 16th century. The Romantic movement made the 19th century a golden age for the art song, notably the German lied. In the 20th century the popular song displaced the more cultivated art song, and popular music is today synonymous with popular song.

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Certain vocalizations of birds, characteristic of males during the breeding season, for the attraction of a mate and for territorial defense. Birdsong also reinforces pair bonds, and some species have a flight song. Birdsongs are usually more complex and longer than birdcalls, which are used for communication within a species. Birdsong may be hereditary or learned; a newly hatched male chaffinch, for example, can sing a “subsong” but must learn to sing the true song by listening to and imitating adult males.

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or Su Sung

(born 1020, Fujian Province, China—died 1101, Kaifeng) Chinese scholar and administrative and financial expert in the imperial bureaucracy. His Illustrated Pharmacopoeia (1070) revealed his knowledge of drugs, zoology, metallurgy, and related technology. An armillary clock that he built to serve as the basis of calendrical reform was housed in a 35-ft (11-m) tower and powered by a waterwheel and chain drive; its mechanism anticipated techniques that would not be used in Europe for hundreds of years.

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"Relax (Don't Do It)" is the debut single by British dance group Frankie Goes to Hollywood, released in the UK by ZTT Records in 1984. The song was later included on the album Welcome to the Pleasuredome (1984).

Although fairly inauspicious upon initial release, "Relax (Don't Do It)" finally reached number one in the UK singles chart on 24 January 1984, ultimately becoming one of the most controversial and most commercially successful records of the entire decade. The single eventually sold a reported 1.91 million copies in the UK alone, making it the seventh best-selling UK single of all time. Following the release of the group's second single, "Two Tribes", "Relax (Don't Do It)" rallied from a declining UK chart position during June 1984 to climb back up the UK charts and re-attain number two spot behind "Two Tribes" at number one, representing simultaneous chart success by a single act unprecedented since the early 1960s.

Upon release in the United States in late 1984, "Relax (Don't Do It)" repeated its slow UK progress, reaching number 67 upon initial release, but eventually reaching number 10 in March 1985.

Background and recording

ZTT Records signed Frankie Goes to Hollywood after producer-turned-ZTT cofounder Trevor Horn saw the band play on the television show The Tube, where the group played an early version of "Relax (Don't Do It)". Horn described the original version of "Relax (Don't Do It)" as "More a jingle than a song", but he preferred to work with songs that weren't professionally finished because he could then "fix them up" in his own style. Once the band was signed, ZTT co-founder Paul Morley mapped out the marketing campaign fashioned as a "strategic assault on pop". Morley opted to tackle the biggest possible themes in the band's singles ("sex, war, religion", of which "Relax (Don't Do It)" would be the first) and emphasised the shock impact of Frankie members Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford's open homosexuality in the packaging and music videos.

Horn dominated the recording of "Relax (Don't Do It)" in his effort for perfectionism. The band were overawed and intimidated by Horn's reputation, and thus were too nervous to make suggestions. Johnson said in his autobiography, "Whatever he said we went along with". When attempts to record with the full band proved unsatisfactory, Horn hired former Ian Dury backing band the Blockheads for the sessions. Those sessions were later deemed to be not modern sounding enough. Horn then constructed a more electronic-based version of the song with keyboardist by session musician Andy Richards and with rhythm programming assistance from J. J. Jeczalik of Art of Noise. Horn developed this version of the recording in his West London studio while the band remained in their hometown of Liverpool. Ultimately lead vocalist Johnson was the only band member to perform on the record; the only contribution by the other members was a sample crafted from the sound of the rest of the band jumping into a swimming pool. Horn explained years later, "I was just . . . Look, 'Relax' had to be a hit." Despite the band's absence from the record, Horn said, "I could never have done these records in isolation. There was no actual playing by the band, but the whole feeling came from the band." Horn completed the recording having spent £70,000 in studio time.

Release and controversy

Morley intentionally courted scandal with the promotion of "Relax". ZTT initiated the ad campaign for "Relax (Don't Do It)" with two quarter-page ads in the British music press. The first ad featured images of Rutherford in a sailor cap and a leather vest, and Johnson with a shaved head and rubber gloves. The images were accompanied by the phrase "ALL THE NICE BOYS LOVE SEA MEN" and declared "Frankie Goes to Hollywood are coming . . . making Duran Duran lick the shit off their shoes . . . Nineteen inches that must be taken always." The second ad promised "theories of bliss, a history of Liverpool from 1963 to 1983, a guide to Amsterdam bars".

On Thursday 5 January, Frankie Goes to Hollywood performed "Relax (Don't Do It)" on the BBC flagship TV chart show, Top Of The Pops, and in less than a week, the song had risen to number 6 in the UK singles chart. On 11 January 1984, Radio 1 disc jockey Mike Read expressed on air his distaste for both the record's suggestive sleeve (designed by Anne Yvonne Gilbert) and its lyrics. Perhaps Read's decision was based on his interpretation of the song's lyrics as being sexually explicit: "Relax, don't do it, when you want to sock it to it, Relax don't do it, when you want to come." He announced his refusal to play the record, not knowing that the BBC had just decided that the song was not to be played on the BBC anyway.

In support of their DJ, BBC Radio banned the single from its shows a reported two days later (although certain prominent night-time BBC shows - including those of Kid Jensen and John Peel - continued to play the record, as they saw fit, throughout 1984).. The now-banned "Relax (Don't Do It)" rose to number 2 in the charts by 17 January, and hit the number one spot on 24 January. By this time, the BBC Radio ban had extended to Top of the Pops as well, which displayed a still picture of the group during its climactic Number One announcement, before airing a performance by a non-Number One artist.

This went on for the five weeks that "Relax (Don't Do It)" was at number one. The single remained on the charts for a record consecutive forty-two weeks. It would rise up from a declining chart position to number two during the UK summer of 1984 whilst Frankie's follow-up single "Two Tribes" held the UK number one spot.

The ban became an embarrassment for the BBC, especially given that UK commercial radio stations were still playing the song. Later in 1984 the ban was lifted and "Relax (Don't Do It)" featured on both the Christmas Day edition of Top of the Pops and Radio 1's rundown of the best-selling singles of the year.

The track was re-issued in 1993, first of a string of Frankie Goes to Hollywood singles to be re-issued in this year. It debuted at a high number six on the UK singles chart and peaked at number five the next week.

Original 1983–84 mixes

Although the 7-inch version of the single remained unchanged throughout its initial release (a mix generally known as "Relax (Move)"), promotional 7-inch records featuring a substantially different mix of "Relax (Don't Do It)" (entitled either "The Last Seven Inches" or "Warp Mix" due to the fact it is a compilation of other versions) were the subject of a limited 1984 release.

Three principal 12-inch remixes of "Relax" were eventually created by producer Trevor Horn:

One of the reasons we did all the remixes was that the initial 12-inch version of 'Relax' contained something called 'The Sex Mix', which was 16 minutes long and didn't even contain a song. It was really Holly Johnson just jamming, as well as a bunch of samples of the group jumping in the swimming pool and me sort of making disgusting noises by dropping stuff into buckets of water! We got so many complaints about it -- particularly from gay clubs, who found it offensive -- that we cut it in half and reduced it down to eight minutes, by taking out some of the slightly more offensive parts [this became the "New York Mix"]. Then we got another load of complaints, because the single version wasn't on the 12-inch -- I didn't see the point in this at the time, but I was eventually put straight about it.

Horn attested that visits to New York's Paradise Garage club led to the creation of the final "Relax (U.S. Mix)", which ultimately replaced the original "Sex Mix"/"New York Mix" releases:

It was only when I went to this club and heard the sort of things they were playing that I really understood about 12-inch remixes. Although I myself had already had a couple of big 12-inch hits, I'd never heard them being played on a big sound system, and so I then went back and mixed 'Relax' again and that was the version which sold a couple of million over here [in the UK].

The original 12-inch version of "Relax", labeled "Sex Mix", ran for over sixteen minutes, and is broadly as described by Horn above. The subsequent "New York Mix" was an 8-minute-plus edit of the "Sex Mix", and can only be distinguished by having 12ISZTAS1 etched on the vinyl. The final 12-inch mix, containing no elements from the foregoing versions, was designated the "U.S. Mix", and ran for approximately seven minutes twenty seconds. This was the most commonly available 12-inch version of "Relax" during its worldwide 1984 chart success.

The UK cassette single featured as the title track a unique amalgam of excerpts from the "Sex Mix", "U.S. Mix" , "Move" and an instrumental version of "Move".

Since virtually all of the UK "Relax" 12-inch singles were labeled "Sex Mix", a method of differentiating between versions by reference to the record's matrix numbers necessarily became de rigueur for collectors of Frankie Goes to Hollywood releases (and ultimately collectors of ZTT records in general).

"Relax (Come Fighting)" was the version of the song included on the Welcome to the Pleasuredome album. This is ostensibly a variant of the 7-inch "Move" mix, but readily distinguishable from it in many ways, of which the most obvious are the fade-in (virtually no fade-in and the vocal is always central on the album track), plus a prominent reverbed-kick-drum sound during the introduction and third sung chorus (completely missing from the album version). The "Come Fighting" version also shares with the later "1993 Classic Mix" reissue (which is almost identical to the album version) a certain post-production sheen (greater stereo separation of parts, more strategic uses of reverb, etc.) that is absent from the original 1983 7-inch single mix.

The original airing of Relax on The Tube, before the band were signed to ZTT, featured another verse that was edited from all the released versions, "In heaven everything is fine, you've got yours and I've got mine", presumably removed as it was taken directly from the David Lynch film Eraserhead.

B-sides

The 7-inch featured "One September Monday", an interview between ZTT's Paul Morley, Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford. During the interview, Holly revealed that the group's name derived from a page of the New Yorker magazine, headlined "Frankie Goes to Hollywood" and featuring Frank Sinatra "getting mobbed by teenyboppers".

On all of the original 12-inch releases, the B-side featured a cover of "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey", followed by a brief dialogue involving Rutherford attempting to sign on, and an acapella version of the title track's chorus, segueing into an instrumental version of "Relax", known as "From Soft to Hard". "From Soft to Hard" has the same structure as the 7-inch "Move" mix, but is not simply an instrumental of this mix.

The UK cassette single included "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" and interview sections not included on "One September Monday".

Videos

The first official video for "Relax", directed by Bernard Rose which was set in a S&M themed gay nightclub, was allegedly banned by MTV and the BBC, prompting the recording of a second video (director unknown) in early 1984, featuring the group performing with the help of "laser beams". However, after the second video was made the song was banned completely by the BBC, meaning that neither video was ever broadcast on any BBC music programmes.

In addition, a version including footage from the Brian dePalma film Body Double as well as a live version also made the rounds at MTV.

Track listings

  • All discographical information pertains to original UK releases only unless noted
  • "Relax" written by Peter Gill/Johnson/Mark O'Toole
  • "One September Monday" credited to Gill/Johnson/Brian Nash/O'Toole/Rutherford
  • "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" written by Gerry Marsden

7": ZTT / ZTAS 1 (UK)

  1. "Relax" (move) - 3:52
  2. "One September Monday" - 4:47
  3. also released as a picture disc bb(P ZTAS 1)

12": ZTT / 12 ZTAS 1

  1. "Relax" (sex mix) (16:24)
  2. "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" - 4:03
  3. "Relax" (from soft to hard) - 4:21

12": ZTT / 12ISZTAS 1

  1. "Relax" (New York mix) (8:20)
  2. "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" - 4:03
  3. "Relax" (from soft to hard) - 4:21
  4. "New York mix" is an edit of "Sex mix"

12": ZTT / 12 ZTAS 1

  1. "Relax" (U.S. mix) - 7:20
  2. "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" - 4:03
  3. "Relax" (from soft to hard) - 4:21

12": ZTT / 200 068-6

  1. "Relax" (Disco mix) (6:15)
  2. "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" - 4:03
  3. "Relax" (from soft to hard) - 4:21
  4. "Disco mix" (aka "The Greek Disco Mix") is a combination of "Relax (move)" and the "New York Mix"

12": Island / 0-96975

  1. "Relax" (U.S. mix) - 7:20
  2. "Relax" (move) - 3:52
  3. "Relax" (from soft to hard) - 4:21
  4. "U.S. Mix" labelled as "Long version"
  5. "Move" labelled as "7" Version"
  6. "from soft to hard" labelled as "Instrumental"
  7. also released on MC in Canada (Island / ISC-69750)

MC: ZTT / CTIS 102

  • "From Soft To Hard - From Dry To Moist"
  • "The Party Trick" (acting dumb) - 0:36
  • "The Special Act" (adapted from the sex mix) -7:46
  • "The US Mix" (come dancing) - 4:38
  • "The Single" (the act) - 3:55
  • "Later On" (from One September Monday) - 1:36
  • "Ferry Across The Mersey (...and here I'll stay)" - 4:06

Charts

Chart Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 1
German Singles Charts 1
Italian Singles Charts 1
Swiss Singles Chart 1
Norwegian Singles Chart 4
Austrian Singles Chart 4
Swedish Singles Chart 4
Billboard Hot 100 10
French Singles Chart 21
Australian Singles Chart 5
New Zealand Singles Chart 35

Re-issues

The title track has periodically been reissued as a single in a number of remix forms.

1993 re-issues

CD: ZTT / FGTH1CD

  1. "Relax" - 3:55
  2. "Relax" (MCMXCIII) - 3:42
  3. "Relax" (Ollie J. Remix) - 6:38
  4. "Relax" (Jam & Spoon Trip-O-Matic Fairy Tale Remix) - 7:52
  5. "Relax" (Jam & Spoon HI N-R-G Remix) - 7:55
  6. "Relax" (U.S. Mix) - 7:22

2x12": ZTT / SAM 1231

  1. "Relax" (Ollie J. Remix) - 6:38
  2. "Relax" (Trip-Ship Edit) - 6:12
  3. "Relax" (Ollie J's Seven Inches) - 3:30
  4. "Relax" (Jam & Spoon HI N-R-G Remix) - 7:55
  5. "Relax" (Jam & Spoon Trip-O-Matic Fairy Tale Remix) - 7:52
  6. "Relax" (MCMXCIII) - 3:42
  7. UK 12" promo

2001 re-issue

CD: Star 69 / STARCD 520

  1. "Relax" (Peter Rauhofer's Doomsday Radio Mix) - 3:45
  2. "Relax" (Peter Rauhofer's Doomsday Club Mix) - 9:47
  3. "Relax" (Saeed & Palash Addictive Journey) - 11:16
  4. "Relax" (Coldcut Remix) - 4:59
  5. "Relax" (Peter Rauhofer's Doomsday Dub) - 6:27
  6. "Relax" (Original New York 12" Mix) - 7:31
  7. "Relax" (Original Radio Mix) - 3:54

References

  • Reynolds, Simon. Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984. Penguin, 2005. ISBN 0-14-303672-6

Notes

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