THE POWER OF THE VOICE
Contributors share some insights into their most treasured vocal performances.
Wonderful Everyday - Chance the Rapper and the Social Experiment
When my depression gets intense enough that it sucks all colour out of my life like a merciless black hole, there is very little that can be done to make me smile or feel a smidgen of hope or happiness. In that environment, Wonderful Everyday shines bright as a beacon of joy. With the exception of the final verse, the song covers word-for-word the opening theme to the children’s TV show Arthur, and this in and of itself will make any millennial nostalgic for countless mornings spent watching it. Chance’s performance on the song alongside those of the various backing singers produce truly mesmerising, joyous harmonies. The repetition of the phrase “It could be wonderful, everyday” makes you feel warm and hopeful, like everything in the world has the potential to be beautiful.
But it is Chance’s last verse that truly elevates this song to the stratosphere. It infects you like a benevolent parasite - “I’m gonna get by when the going get rough, I’m gonna love life ’til I’m done grown up, and when I go down I’ma go down swinging, my eyes still smiling and my heart still singing”. It takes a human that feels incapable of moving out of their depressive black hole and it forces them through the event horizon in an explosion of happiness, hope, and resistance. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to this verse without smiling, dancing, and fist-bumping along. This verse is a call to arms, to carry on and do your best when times are tough, to live in the moment and create the best life for yourself in the here and now, and to carry on dancing and putting out light into the world until the end. Of course, it won’t solve your depression, sadness, or suffering, but it is a must-have in your self-care armoury for when you need it.
Caledonia - Dougie MacLean
If you ever find yourself abroad with a Scottish person who has emigrated from their homeland and this song comes on, prepare to have a very soppy, sentimental Scot on your hands. For Caledonia is the gold standard of patriotic Scottish songs which will reduce even the hardiest Highlander to a puddle of emotion. Released in 1977, folk singer Dougie MacLean originally wrote the song in just 10 minutes on a beach in Brittany, France before later completing it in a youth hostel that night, after having been homesick whilst travelling. He then returned to Scotland the next day after a period of travel throughout Europe. On a personal level, this song helped me immensely in the university exchange I went on in my third of year of university. Whenever I needed home comforts, Caledonia was always near the top of the list. Indeed, listening to this song as my flight came in to land in Edinburgh upon returning from my year abroad in Belgium and Spain - a year that had its fair share of homesickness, loneliness, and depression - gave me one of the most viscerally powerful reactions I’ve ever had listening to a song. The chorus, “let me tell you that I love you, and I think about you all the time, Caledonia you’re calling me, and now I’m going home” made me tear up, ready to burst with pride for the home that I was returning to after a year away. The romanticism of the song’s title, which references the Roman name given to the land beyond Hadrian’s Wall that they could never conquer, makes one consider the Scottish history of mysticism, resistance, and beauty. For me, it is a far better candidate to be the Scottish national anthem than the far more downbeat, self-pitying Flower of Scotland.
By Fraser Wilson