View Full Version : Do You Like The "Talking Passages" In Music

05-21-2009, 11:13 AM
It seems like Diana Ross, (With or without the Supremes) was the Queen of doing this.

I always hated this. You know what I mean, usually it comes at the bridge and they singer talks the verse. I hate that. I will say that if it ever was done well, Diana Ross probably did it best, but still....

So what about you? If so what songs do you think it was done well in? What songs was it done horribly in?

05-21-2009, 01:01 PM
The song "Only Human" by Human League has a talking part that is well done, in my opinion.

Dung Beetle
05-21-2009, 01:08 PM
My daughter and I were listening to Dead Man’s Curve yesterday and couldn’t help but break into giggles at the talking part. However, we then agreed that talking in songs is so bad it’s good.

05-21-2009, 02:06 PM
Operettas tend to have dialog between the arias, which can be annoying if it's in a language you don't speak.

05-21-2009, 02:10 PM
I passionately loathe it. It's annoying and embarrassing.

The Moody Blues were the worst offenders of all time, I think.

05-21-2009, 02:16 PM
I like the spoken part in Ray Charles' cover of Living for the City. Usually the device is just kind of embarrassing.

05-21-2009, 02:23 PM
Last year our chorus did a Supremes medley, and in the "You Keep Me Hangin' On" section, we Basses got to say "and there ain't nothin' I can do about it." We gave it a little extra bitchiness. :D

well he's back
05-21-2009, 02:26 PM
If I make a mix tape or cd I always edit out any songs with "talking" parts. Don't like em.

05-21-2009, 02:42 PM
I like Election Day (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBPA21OJltI) by Arcadia (featuring Grace Jones)

I like China Girl (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_8IXx4tsus) by David Bowie

I like Come Dancing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs2kFrGluKs) by The Kinks

I like She Blinded Me With Science (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V83JR2IoI8k) by Thomas Dolby

05-21-2009, 02:49 PM
There are various categories of spoken passages in songs. I think the one that comes to mind most readily (and I guess this is what you're specifically referring to in your post) is the "hushed, oh-so-dramatic" effect, which tends to fall into the "so bad it's good" category... try Rex Allen's "Don't Go Near the Indians" for a jaw-droppingly corny example.

Then there's the (figuratively) tongue-in-cheek category, i.e., mocking the above effect... like in "Happiness is a Warm Gun" (Beatles) or "Far Away Eyes" (Stones). This is usually good.

Then there are various other types of humorous use of spoken lyrics. There's the whole subgenre of folk known as talking blues -- Woody Guthrie was a master at this, and various others, including Bob Dylan, imitated him. There are a bunch of uptempo, boogie woogie/country/rock & roll songs that use spoken lyrics as a device, such as Tex Williams' "Smoke Smoke Smoke (That Cigarette)" or Charlie Ryan's "Hot Rod Lincoln".

Then there are songs that employ spoken "blues shouts", such as the Who's version of Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues". Actually, you could probably put much of Allison's oeuvre in this category, since his vocal style is somewhere between talking and singing. And it's all great.

And then there's Rex Harrison in "My Fair Lady", for that matter.

And Zappa often used spoken passages for his own sick, twisted purposes.

I guess a lot of what I'm describing here is not exactly what you were talking about , though.

05-21-2009, 02:50 PM
Heart and Soul (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJK7dMSd31k) by T'Pau

05-21-2009, 02:57 PM
I like Election Day (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBPA21OJltI) by Arcadia (featuring Grace Jones)

Haha, that's sort of like when I was watching Mrs Doubtfire, and I saw Robin Williams' brother and said to myself "he sort of seems like Harvey Fierstein."

I thought the voiceover in Election Day did sound like Grace Jones but didn't know till now that it was.

05-21-2009, 02:59 PM
My brother's and my favorite one is "I'll be your knight in shining armor coming to your emotional rescue" said with cheesy English accent, of course.

05-21-2009, 03:24 PM
I like Wake Up Time (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiJIcNMD4aU) by Tom Petty

05-21-2009, 03:38 PM
Who can forget....

Valley Girl (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnVE3UTIgEM) by Moon Unit Zappa

05-21-2009, 03:42 PM
Elvis Costello from Kidney Now (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPXoMQZJdA8)

05-21-2009, 03:51 PM
Real, William Shatner and Brad Paisley. I think he pulled this one off.

05-21-2009, 03:55 PM
Heart and Soul (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJK7dMSd31k) by T'Pau

I don't know how, I don't know when. But I shall have my vengeance upon you.

05-21-2009, 03:55 PM
Mostly, I don't like 'em, but they sure are popular. In fact, for several years now, many performers do nothing but talk. They don't sing at all, they just talk and make peculiar gestures.


05-21-2009, 04:20 PM
I don't know how, I don't know when. But I shall have my vengeance upon you.


Doesn't Pink Floyd do this a lot?

Swallowed My Cellphone
05-21-2009, 04:31 PM
What about that awful "I've Never Been to Me (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhrIS01XFEk)" song? The talking part is so cheesy I can't even laugh at it as an ironic thing.

Mostly, the talking bits in songs is generally embarrassing, but there are exceptions.

05-21-2009, 04:55 PM
I can't think of any I really like. There's one in a Moody Blues song (the one that starts with "Breathe deep the gathering gloom") and a Poe song ("Hey Pretty" - the voice over is her brother Mark reading from his novel House of Leaves) that I don't hate, but that's about it.

05-21-2009, 08:01 PM
And then there's Rex Harrison in "My Fair Lady", for that matter.

Ok, then . . . Richard Burton in "Camelot."

05-21-2009, 08:34 PM
Talk, its only talk
Babble, burble, banter, bicker bicker bicker
Brouhaha, boulderdash, ballyhoo
Its only talk
Back talk

Talk, talk, its all talk
Too much talk
Small talk
Talk that trash
Expressions, editorials, expugnations, exclamations, enfadulations
Its all talk

(King Crimson, Elephant Talk)

The Tooth
05-21-2009, 08:43 PM
Go Fishing, my boy. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ3KtCHnEbo)

05-22-2009, 10:29 AM
And one of the funniest ones:
She's Talking Again (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6C95Vy8jeg)

05-22-2009, 01:01 PM
You want cheesy? Then you need the Partridge Family's "Doesn't Somebody Want to be Wanted," which features David Cassidy speaking a verse. The spoken part includes such deep philosophical insights as, "It gets real lonely when you're by yourself. Now where is love, and who is love? I gotta know."

Talking passages can work, but it's pretty obvious that they don't always.

05-22-2009, 01:15 PM
This is the perfect time to talk about one of my favourite cheesy songs of all time, "The Adventures of the Love Crusader", performed by a very young (and very disco-pop-y!) Sarah Brightman. If you can find the song somewhere I highly recommend listening to this 7 minute masterpiece at least once, but here's a page with more information than you would ever need on it (complete with comic book, Sarah Brightman in shiny clothes, and the lyrics-- omg the lyrics)-- anyway, there's a Barry White-like voice in the middle doing a talking passage-- it is insane.


05-22-2009, 04:24 PM
I've always liked "Candy" by Iggy Pop & Kate Pierson. Not overdone, IMO.

05-22-2009, 05:26 PM
Put me in the camp that thinks it is pretty hokey. I imagine there are a few I don't mind - maybe in one of Meatloaf's songs, but mostly it seems lame.

05-23-2009, 02:05 AM
I don't mind a talking line, as in "You Keep Me Hanging On," (as one poster noted) many versions say "And there ain't nothing I can do about it." To emphasize the line it's fine, it's an entire passage. Like "Heart And Soul" by T'pau that is more sing-talking the whole song. Madonna did that on her "Erotica" album.

I was mainly thinking about passages that are spoken in otherwise sung songs.

To me rap is just talking to a repetitive drum beat, but that is an entire art form rather than a piece of one song.

Like the song "I've Never Been To Me," that spoken part is so cheesey it ruins a decent song." But I have heard radio stations play that and omit the spoken part.

As I said in my OP I think if anyone can pull it off, Diana Ross comes closest.