TS: Beck's Debra vs D'angelo's Untitled (How Does It Feel) - battle of two classic Prince slow jam tributes

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i was obsessed with voodoo and midnite vultures for a while when they came out and did that typical thing of wishing prince would work with them or let one of them remix him at the least, but in the end it is probably better that never happened, for all parties. of these songs, its weird that the most explicitly prince songs on these albums were the ballads. idk if thats an easier prince mode to try and replicate or just something people missed more at this point in the 90s. obv beck prob finds part of prince writing about sex, or just songs about sex funny in general, and presumably could never see himself doing that sincerely, so debra has a slight air or snootiness and snobbery about the kind of song it is parodying/paying tribute to, which i would say is something like prince's international lover, which in itself was a kind of send up of seduction balladry, even as it is adding to that sub genre (prince managing to be humorous, and aloof as well as sincere and sexy, while beck cant quite do the last part, not because of the lyrics or the music, but the tone of his vocal). dangelos song reminds me most of prince's insatiable in melody, even if it sounds more like early/mid 80s prince in production/guitar. this song is far sexier than debra, more committed, more tender, and actually maybe more sincere than prince, who often sounded like he was preening, even on ballads (eg adore), and even manages to sound a bit demanding, constantly needing to know how it feels, which ends up like a rhetorical question, and perhaps one that could get a bit annoying after a while, if you were constantly asking your partner for a grading, mid-performance. ultimately id like to hear both dangelo and beck cover each other's prince tributes.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
D'angelo's Untitled (How Does It Feel) 36
Beck's Debra 9


candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 10:39 (one month ago) link

i love midnite vultures and all but who is possibly going to vote for "debra" here lol

ufo, Monday, 29 March 2021 10:44 (one month ago) link

It's not even in my top three D'Angelo but c'mon this isn't close

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 29 March 2021 11:42 (one month ago) link

If I made a playlist or mixtape of prince-not-prince songs, it is impossible that these would not both be essential.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 12:03 (one month ago) link

easiest vote in the history of this board

intern at pepe le pew research (Simon H.), Monday, 29 March 2021 12:51 (one month ago) link

ffs we could've saved 4 weeks here

Call of Scampi: Slack Nephrops (Noodle Vague), Monday, 29 March 2021 13:06 (one month ago) link

did you know that r&b slow jams exist as a concept separate from the music of prince?

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:06 (one month ago) link

Do wonder if this poll was in 2001, whether if the responses would be different.

Hold on, what, so slow jams weren't invented by prince? And there is rnb outside of prince? You have got to be shitting me.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:07 (one month ago) link

Consider this mind blown.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:08 (one month ago) link

Soon you'll be trying to tell me other singers used falsetto before prince and other alt facts

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:10 (one month ago) link

you’re the guy who complained about de la soul’s “boring voices” so im inclined to believe the worst in your tin-eared opinions

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:11 (one month ago) link

once again you’re proving your own empty-headedness by alleging that two completely unrelated are pastiches of prince and prince alone. d’angelo is obviously influenced by prince, but to call “untitled” a mere imitation is diminishing the song, which is as good as any ballad prince recorded in his lifetime

and to compare it to “debra,” which for all it’s virtues, is a clear pastiche with layers of irony that you can peel like an onion...you deserve to see this song get demolished in these results

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:15 (one month ago) link

What's with all the ad hominem crap?

enochroot, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:22 (one month ago) link

you’re right, I’m misdirecting the anger i should’ve been saving for his comments in the atliens thread

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:32 (one month ago) link

I'm not usually insulted on ILX anymore but ... I never!

avatar of a kind of respectability homosexual culture (Eric H.), Monday, 29 March 2021 13:41 (one month ago) link

Honestly you sound like a butt hurt dangelo fan aggrieved that someone could suggest that their hero might have made a song as a tribute to a guy who he has gone out of his way to say was his idol. On an album (voodoo) with another song (africa) where the drums are a direct replay of drums on a prince song (I wonder u). An album with a tour that included a lengthy passage on lady that was a direct, acknowledged lift from the parade tour.

I am not sure what your issue is here. If you hear other artists in untitled, then please do list them, rather than attack and mock me personally. Thank you in advance.

As for the differences in the two approaches to prince balladry, well while I appreciate your parsing, I noted that in my original post.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:49 (one month ago) link

"you’re the guy who complained about de la soul’s “boring voices” so im inclined to believe the worst in your tin-eared opinions"

Might be a transatlantic tonal issue, but that was just flippancy. And as I commented on that thread, de la are clearly NOT vocal characters on par with other guys from that period. Doesnt mean their music isn't good.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:51 (one month ago) link

i don’t really have musical heroes or whatever, but what i take issue with is the way you engage with black music from such a clinical remove and with such chin-stroking pedantry

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:52 (one month ago) link

Candyman have you listened to the Isley Brothers' 70s stuff?

J. Sam, Monday, 29 March 2021 13:58 (one month ago) link

Clinical remove? You want me to write all warm and fuzzies? frankly I don't much care for what you think of my tone. Respond to the content, not your specious inference. I write how i write. I think the music deserves as much scrutiny as any other because it deserves to be taken seriously and debated, not just blandly respected. I'm not mocking or sneering or derisive. I dont look down on it. You want to show me where I'm being pedantic, please do. I suspect your idea of pedantry is simply not being 'oh shit this song gives me the feels'or whatever.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:05 (one month ago) link

"Candyman have you listened to the Isley Brothers' 70s stuff?"

Are you asking because you want to tell me untitled is in fact a tribute to between the sheets and footsteps in the dark?

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:06 (one month ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTqzLbK85pI

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:08 (one month ago) link

Respond to the content, not your specious inference.

specious inference is saying that just because d'angelo worships prince and used prince music in other songs means that his biggest hit was written specifically as a tribute to another artist.

how is that not condescending, to divine the intentions of the artist in such a way?

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:13 (one month ago) link

prince was d'angelo's biggest artistic inspiration, and sure, a d'angelo ballad can resemble a prince ballad, but to put "untitled" in the same category as "debra" is just blatant disrespect.

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:15 (one month ago) link

this is the first time in history anyone has ever polled two unlike things on ILM. my pearls, i am clutching them

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Monday, 29 March 2021 14:21 (one month ago) link

xpost - i just made this poll as i was pretty excited when these songs came out to hear younger artists paying tribute to prince (i remember the fader interview between beck and dangelo, so clearly i wasnt the only one who didnt see these things as 'unlike'), who they both clearly adored, but honestly, it really does sound like you think i have blasphemed.

i used to lurk on the okayplayer website and pored over every single thing questlove would write about voodoo (he should know a thing or two as he was the co pilot on the sessions).

i remember all the little bits of gossip and tidbits of info he would leak.

i am not making it up when i say untitled was created as a tribute to prince.

why this is quite so offensive to you, i am not sure.

why it is disrespect to compare this with debra, you have not made clear. i would hazard a guess (white artist doing prince, not doing it totally for real, sideways doing it for lolz) but i dont think anyone needs any more assumptions being made here.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:23 (one month ago) link

i explained it right here, bub

“debra,” which for all it’s virtues, is a clear pastiche with layers of irony that you can peel like an onion

― voodoo chili, Monday, March 29, 2021 8:15 AM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:24 (one month ago) link

i used to lurk on the okayplayer website and pored over every single thing questlove would write about voodoo (he should know a thing or two as he was the co pilot on the sessions).

i remember all the little bits of gossip and tidbits of info he would leak.

the kids...are coming up from behind

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:28 (one month ago) link

xp no man, just think you'd like it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

J. Sam, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:33 (one month ago) link

"debra" is a solid pastiche while "untitled" is an absolutely all-time great. that's why everyone feels the comparison is ridiculous

ufo, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:34 (one month ago) link

tribute can be many things. it doesnt have to be all sincere and earnest. it can be a pastiche too. you seem to have a problem with the idea that untitled even IS a tribute though, which is something else entirely. no one is suggesting it doesnt stand on its own two feet, its a brilliant song, regardless of whether you know princes music or not. its not some boring rock n roll HOF 'tribute'. its just dangelo channelling prince so purely, while still sounding like dangelo, that i dont think anyone could say he is just 'copying' or trying to be prince. but it just FEELS like a prince seduction ballad - he knows prince so well, that he was able to nail it, without sounding at all self conscious about it.

debra is a knowing pastiche, but its still fun. the narrative is ludicrous. but youre kind of in on the joke. at the risk of being disrespectful again, there are plenty of artists in R&B history who have had a lot of humour in their songs/performances (eg millie jackson), and i think they might appreciate debra.

just in case anyone missed this 20 years back, i did a quick google and it turns out its online -
https://www.thefader.com/2012/05/03/groove-theory-beck-and-dangelo

honestly, i had no idea this poll would be received quite so badly. hey ho.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:37 (one month ago) link

i like "debra" a lot though i don't think beck's knowing lyrical goofiness really does it any favours. like, it's the one point on the album where he just plays it straight musically, so it probably would have worked better if he'd done the same lyrically there too

ufo, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:44 (one month ago) link

xp don't fret, this being ILX, the results will be way closer than anyone here rn thinks

avatar of a kind of respectability homosexual culture (Eric H.), Monday, 29 March 2021 14:50 (one month ago) link

this thread hurts my eyes

John Cooper of Christian rock band Skillet (map), Monday, 29 March 2021 14:51 (one month ago) link

its just dangelo channelling prince so purely, while still sounding like dangelo, that i dont think anyone could say he is just 'copying' or trying to be prince. but it just FEELS like a prince seduction ballad - he knows prince so well, that he was able to nail it, without sounding at all self conscious about it.

this is all true, and this is part of the reason why i don't love the comparison to "debra" and its whole "look how ridiculous i'm being by trying to sound like prince" ethos

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 14:51 (one month ago) link

I'm not sure how one measures 'self-consciousness,' but when I listen to "Debra" I think, "This is a white dude singing." Nothing inherently wrong (Bowie, 1974).

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 29 March 2021 14:56 (one month ago) link

xp don't fret, this being ILX, the results will be way closer than anyone here rn thinks

I'd bet otherwise

intern at pepe le pew research (Simon H.), Monday, 29 March 2021 14:57 (one month ago) link

i just can't imagine being into beck's uptight and shallow thing at all after .. all the music the internet has allowed us to hear in the 20 years since. and i'm personally offended we have to have another beck thread floating around on sna to start the week. 'mixed bizness' was stuck in my head last night thanks to the other thread and i'm kinda pissed about it lol.

John Cooper of Christian rock band Skillet (map), Monday, 29 March 2021 14:59 (one month ago) link

tbf i feel like the beck song is a good corrective reminder that for all the reverence prince is also the 'masturbating with a magazine' guy

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Monday, 29 March 2021 15:00 (one month ago) link

idk i like "debra" but i feel like the song misunderstands the things that were actually funny about prince

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:03 (one month ago) link

xp isn’t that why he’s revered

nothing (Left), Monday, 29 March 2021 15:04 (one month ago) link

"I'm not sure how one measures 'self-consciousness,' but when I listen to "Debra" I think, "This is a white dude singing." Nothing inherently wrong (Bowie, 1974)."

have you heard becks cover of bowie's win? he does it very straight.

in fairness, the debra narrative, i.e. a guy trying to get with a girl and her sister, is arguably not one that should be sung about with a 100% straight face.

"tbf i feel like the beck song is a good corrective reminder that for all the reverence prince is also the 'masturbating with a magazine' guy"

also often camp AF. see: international lover's ending.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:05 (one month ago) link

never heard this beck song but i probably should to work out how offended i should be with this comparison

nothing (Left), Monday, 29 March 2021 15:06 (one month ago) link

prince is also the guy that made a song called wonderful ass, vibrator, and wrote gigolos get lonely too.

"never heard this beck song but i probably should to work out how offended i should be with this comparison"

please do.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:07 (one month ago) link

not trying to save-a-debra, ILMs most talked about & favorite song of 2021, but just sayin imo the stance "this ridiculously goofy ott song with strained sex rhymes is clearly intended to mock prince" is a little bit "you cant fight in here, this is the war room"

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Monday, 29 March 2021 15:12 (one month ago) link

for the hell of it, here is an exchange between beck and dre3000 (someone not above pastiches of prince, never mind bootsy, sugarfoot and who knows who else), which also discusses prince.
http://persojy.free.fr/fr/beck_outkast.html

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:17 (one month ago) link

Beck: I was gonna ask you about Prince because he was a big inspiration for Midnite Vultures.
Andre: Prince, to me, is the greatest of our time, as far as songwriting and producing and all that.
Beck: It's funny now because when I was making my last record, Prince wasn't somebody that people were talking much about. He kind of ebbs and flows. People don't cite him as an influence much these days, especially not in the rock world. For me, he represents possibilities, you know. He does it all.
Andre: Most definitely.
Beck: He has that sense of humor that I think you guys have, which is a rare commodity.
Andre: Yeah, man, you've got to keep it fun.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:28 (one month ago) link

i don't think anyone was saying "debra" was intended to mock prince

ufo, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:44 (one month ago) link

'i like prince but i cant be prince, i want to sing like prince but i cant sing like prince with conviction, i dont sing about sex so i cant sing about things prince does with sincerity, isnt singing about sex a bit silly lol, how can i do it? i will sing about it as if i know it is silly, that way i can get away with this without anyone saying i am just singing about sex like so many commercial artists do; also i think if you are too sincere and emotional, it means you are not intelligent, i am intelligent, and i want people to recognise this, so i will not succumb to such simplicity'

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:50 (one month ago) link

“step inside my hyundai”

voodoo chili, Monday, 29 March 2021 15:57 (one month ago) link

'i like prince but i cant be prince, i want to sing like prince but i cant sing like prince with conviction, i dont sing about sex so i cant sing about things prince does with sincerity, isnt singing about sex a bit silly lol, how can i do it?

two better answers are "write it for someone else to sing" or "maybe not"

intern at pepe le pew research (Simon H.), Monday, 29 March 2021 15:59 (one month ago) link

also, obv: hipsters gonna be hipsters.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 16:08 (one month ago) link

There’s probably something to unpack at length w/r/t Beck’s relationship to Black music in general (including hip-hop in his earlier stuff), but I’m not sure he’s an interesting enough artist to warrant it.

beer drops on my keytar (morrisp), Monday, 29 March 2021 17:05 (one month ago) link

his relationship to Black music is as fraught and interesting as any modestly intelligent regular dude's.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 29 March 2021 17:13 (one month ago) link

def interesting. and def warrants it. obv he likes it. but obv he also has some rockist supremacy in relation to it so i wonder how much he really respects it. i remember hearing live shows on bootleg mp3s from the 90s that he had where he was, IIRC, kind of taking the piss out of james brown somewhat, affecting JB-isms for comedic effect, which didnt sit that well with me at the time tbh. i think he has quite a detached relationship to it, i doubt he would ever get as ridiculously romantic about old bluesmen as someone like keith richards in that sort of over-affected indebtedness, he just sees it as something to keep up to date with as its doing new stuff that might be interesting for someone like him to utilise, which leads to things like his work with timbo and pharrell (though the pharrell stuff was years after the neptunes heyday). i think he has different relationships with the stuff thats rock canon that he did in his americana, bluesy folksy periods, then a diff relationship with whats come after.

candyman, Monday, 29 March 2021 17:24 (one month ago) link

four weeks pass...

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Tuesday, 27 April 2021 00:01 (two weeks ago) link

I am genuinely curious to see how many votes "Debra" will get

"Debra" voters, reveal yourselves

self-clowning oven (Murgatroid), Tuesday, 27 April 2021 01:41 (two weeks ago) link

NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF! SOMETHING TELLS ME YOU WANNA GO HOME!
Champagne, bibles, custom clothes you own
Calling up from special area codes
Hollywood notes with the Hollywood phones

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Tuesday, 27 April 2021 01:54 (two weeks ago) link

That's the part that always sticks with me from Midnite Vultures.

How Does It Feel obv. Silly poll but the beef upthread is also silly.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Tuesday, 27 April 2021 01:54 (two weeks ago) link

Not gonna vote, but when I saw Beck he encored with “Debra” and there were approximately zero layers of irony; shit was ridiculous but he was completely into it

Swag Heathen (theStalePrince), Tuesday, 27 April 2021 03:40 (two weeks ago) link

we'll finally know how many drive an elantra

devil sticks in trench coat (Sufjan Grafton), Tuesday, 27 April 2021 04:57 (two weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Wednesday, 28 April 2021 00:01 (one week ago) link

Okay, all nine of you reveal yourselves

self-clowning oven (Murgatroid), Wednesday, 28 April 2021 02:05 (one week ago) link


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