Monday, 17 August 2015

Music of the Abstract: Daddy Cool by Boney M.

If there is a music genre that led to such divisive opinions about it, disco is up there. On one hand, an unbelievably popular genre of music. On the other hand, how many other genres of music have had a campaign against, such as when on July 12, 1979, at the Chicago baseball stadium Comiskey Park, a D.J. called Steve Dahl blew up disco records in a promotion that ended up with riots?. Like any other genre when it becomes very popular and mainstream, disco became like what would happen to punk after and progressive rock before, forced back into the underground or diverge into various sub-genres. I confess though that, just listening to a disco compilation album, you realise how good the music actually is. After growing up with Disco Stu from The Simpsons as a child, it's amazing for me to see even how mainstream disco songs could be very experimental or very odd. Donna Summer's I Feel Love managed to be proclaimed the future of music by Brian Eno, and the influence is still profound to this day. Also think of Rasputin by Boney M., the story of the infamous Russian monk, who was tricked into drinking cyanide and was shot multiple times before his assassins even managed to kill him, set to an insanely danceable beat using balalaikas. It managed to get to number 2 in the British charts and has a folk heavy metal cover version by Turisas. How many songs today would be so esoteric in their subject matter and sound compared to the countless party tracks of now?

Boney M as a group has aspects that might surprise some. German music producer Frank Farian put the group together and also provided most of the vocals in the studio. Also the original Love For Sale album cover would've be eyebrow raising back in the seventies let alone now. Yet the music is good and knowing how beloved it is, members of the group touring performing the songs long after Boney M was officially disbanded, makes how enjoyable of the songs greater. While a bit of a left term for this article in terms of being very well known, a song like Daddy Cool really stands out for how its constructed as music, very danceable indeed but also very unconventional compared to a lot of pop music now. My interest in Boney M also has a filmic connection. One of my most beloved scenes in any film I've seen, from one of my favourite films of the last decade, comes from the incredible comedic-drama Tulpan (2008), a film from Kazakhstan directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy, where the protagonist and his best friend drive through the Kazakh desert at high speed singing and bopping along to Rivers of Babylon. If anything else, that and the sets in the video above are appropriate for this site, giant mushroom in the background of the video and all.

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