Adventures In Audio

Is this the best song with the worst drums?

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@johnviera3884:  it’s drums.
and it’s made approximately $100 million
and it hasn’t made a comeback
it’s been a Christmas staple since it’s release.
everywhere radio, satellite, Musak services etc.

@RebeccaTurner-ny1xx:  Ah, the best Linn is, of course, the Sondek.

@xfoolsgoldx:  Drum machines was part of the 80s. I personally dislike the sound of autotune but it's so popular in the charts, artist use as a feature even when they can actually sing. I'm guessing we will look back one day and wonder why some artists used it.

@lokvagn3135:  This song is perfect as it is. The Linndrum was used on so many songs from the 80's that I and many with me love. There is a reason why they are so expensive today! I don't have a Linndrum in my collection but I do own a Roland Juno-60 though!

@user-vk1qs1bq2v:  I love these drum tracts. Audio perfection? Perhaps - but being an audio fossil I can't give up the Elvin Joneses, Jack DeJohnette's etc. - they are playing music not tracts. Perhaps there is a role for creativity - or maybe not.

@maurice7950:  i watched this while eating a banana!

@NicoJeanRas:  Fun-Fi

@NicoJeanRas:  Here is some food for thought. Try listening to a recording of the sea through your equipment, not white or pink noise, but the sea with waves crashing, the occasional gull flying buy and the scum breaking as it draws back,you will really know if your system makes the grade. I have never heard anyone whomever the designers were that can do this faithfully and convincingly, you just cannot create the distortionless dynamic range or frequency response.. When you get that right, come back here and tell us all about it. You may convince me that your system can produce music. At this moment, you are like a peacock bragging that he is the most beautiful bird.

@o_leksandr:  “Don’t call me Shirley!” 😂 but in all seriousness, thank you for this analysis. “Now I know what a fool I’ve been” all these years not noticing the obvious to some extent “simplicity” of the drum track which is likely hidden by all other rhythm-forming elements. Just shows his genius.

@gibson2623:  Best song? LoL, you are funny

@AudioMasterclass replies to @gibson2623: I'm inclined to say that if it were my song that is top of the UK singles chart at the moment, as 'Last Christmas' is, I'd be saying that - at least temporarily - it is the best song.

@EricB256:  The drums are fine on this track. It's the synth playing the rhythm parts that has sounded old hat to me even back in the early 90s. Mowadays, it gives the impression of being even older than a lot of 1970s music which has aged better. And that applies to a lot of similar synth sounds from the early to mid-80s. Is this just taste? I cannot tell.

@lefttoe6969:  I just cannot stop thinking about Radio Gaga, the rythm and tempo is so similar. Just never realised that linn drum was used by Queen 😅

@jongriffin2608:  Could it be better?
I once saw a session drummer demonstrate how much ‘better’ popular Beatles songs would be if he had played instead of Ringo. The result was predictable, sure - technically more refined, but then lacked the charm and idiosyncratic nature of Ringos musicality. In debates, it’s obvious to me that Ringo was the best possible drummer for that band, probably just as Lars Ulrich is for Metallica and, as this sound and drum pattern would be for Last Christmas.
To what end precisely anyway? Last Christmas clearly succeeds as a Christmas song, surely we live in a time where we have the ability to improve such things, but recognise there is no obvious reason why we would bother.

@Makinthadough:  I’m convinced that this song came back 2 years after Cookin Soul made it an underground hit on his MF Doom Christmas album which would argue for the value of sampling. Personally I never thought much about this song until I heard him sample it. Now it’s everywhere. Could it be connected? That’s all I’ve got.

@ericquasney8832:  Started boss dr. Rhythm 550. Program jazz beats. Set up to play with fingers in real time,
Like a kit. 🦧

@ericquasney8832:  They made great click tracks. 🐵

@SPINNINGMYWHEELS777:  I heard if you add a sleight bell you have a hit christ-mass song

@SPINNINGMYWHEELS777:  isn't that just a linn drum electronic pattern?

@michaeldeloatch7461:  Wife was telling me Christmas day this song was from our teen years (70s / early 80s) -- which was wrong, wrong, wrong haha. It came out actually after we were married, and it was years before I heard it the first time because I wasn't listening to pop radio in those days. It was inflicted on me in public places presently and I despised it, and certainly the drum machine was an integral part of the overall experience.
Notwithstanding that, in holiday spirit I have given the song a short listen just now and I think I can analyze the genius of the music. The first time he sings the word "heart" at 0:20 there is a loud LUB-DUB sound, then at the words "gave it awahhh-y" the heart is syncopated wildly showing it has been broken and is in fact in fibrillation. That at the word "tears" we hear a THUD, THUD This is genius of nobel-prize level.

@fisherman9435 replies to @michaeldeloatch7461: Be thankful. My wife remembers everything, especially the things I did that she didn't like. And what I was wearing at the time. 😆

@andymouse:  I don't think you could make it better or worse as it is what it is but for the record I disliked it intensely at the time and still do, but I prefer this version with just the drums...cheers. Happy new year !

@artemario7116:  👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

@10sassafras:  Nothing like YouTube to have you listening critically to a song you’d barely noticed. George Michael’s singing is wonderful. The drum track might be the only other interesting thing on the song.

@robertbailey8003:  I would love to hear your comments on Angry by the Rolling Stones. A track that I have been listening to since I first heard it in September (so it's sort of Christmas release). It's the drums that get me, and then the guitar solo. The video isn't bad either 😜

@laika25:  Next tune to drummannalize... Queen's Radio Gaga 😊

@dangerzone007:  Now we're into Christmas songs when are you going to review Eric Idols Christmas song?

@aboveice247:  Ive just recently reconstructed this song -hobby (at least tried to my best ability), the unpredictable snare adds variety and syncopation to the repetitive synth string and bass. BTW - im no expert, i normally always add the original vocals to my re-constructions (using vocali.se) and perhaps the vocal stripping is not a perfect process and introduced more than normal artifacts for this song , but im sure the 1st few lines do not sound like George Micheal and therefore i assumed it was Andrew signing ? imo you can clearly hear George's fantastic voice alternating with another somewhat de-tuned singer .. Andrew ? Im sure they did not have an auto-tune process in those days that could have messed with the vocal stripping ?

@donmason356:  you lost me covering a G M song.

@phaenius:  It sounds fine. If you look with microscope you find faults in everything. And if you don't find, you invent them. Song is fine. Is was made for people to enjoy it and they did. You are not even pronouncing the name of the band right.

@guennadiyf1752:  The taste of George Michael as a producer is amazing. This minimalism of drums and groove at the same time works excellent.

@rabit818:  The first drum track sounds similar to Blondie’s “Rapture”.

@RebeccaTurner-ny1xx replies to @rabit818: Cloth ears? No Linn could approach the drumming perfection of Mr Clem Burke.

@rabit818 replies to @rabit818: "similar"@@RebeccaTurner-ny1xx

@peterevans202:  It occurred to me that the tune is almost Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” with a few wrong notes to make it different.

@michaeloconnor7849:  This is the best whamageddon to hear, cheers .

@schemkesa:  Exactly, very robotic and awfull, but there in the days... linndrums were very popular

@bba935:  The song is what it is. Whenever I listen to Christmas Pop music songs I like them to sound like the era they are from. That said, you've now ruined the song for me because I'm listening to the drums closely and noticed that the cymbal decays unrealistically fast. :D

@crazyprayingmantis5596:  If i hear this song or Mariah fking Carey one more time I'm gonna neck myself

@darryldouglas6004:  At 5 minutes I was convinced I was somehow being Rick rolled! 😂

@glynnp42:  I can't help but be confused. Why are you spending all of this time on analyzing a Wham! drum machine's programming from 40 years ago???? Who on earth cares? You still listen to this drivel??? I just don't understand.

@theresamellor9527:  Just thought I woukd give it a listen.....yes, of course would be better with a real drummer!

@RebeccaTurner-ny1xx replies to @theresamellor9527: Depending on the drummer...

@mattlm64:  Every time I hear this song I'm probably not going to be able to focus on anything but the drum track now.

Funny how the bells make a sudden reappearance at the end.

@JUST-ENJOY-THE-MUSIC:  I'm far too old to even know what a Wham is!???????

@stevengagnon4777:  The only version of this song I heard was last Christmas. Yeah didn't listen to commercial radio in the eighties. Anyway no drums in that version I heard a year ago. It was really nice with out them. Merry Christmas.

@fernandofonseca3354:  As primitive as the drum track in "Radio Gaga..."! Come on, it's the zeitgeist of the 80's! And yes I agree there is some real work done on that drum track (I once programmed the wee Yamaha QY10 by hand and it wasn't fun...) 😂 Not happy? Get Terry Bozzio to do it then! 😂😂😂

@DarkSideofSynth replies to @fernandofonseca3354: Programming the QY10 IS super fun ;) It makes you endure, and come out a better person :))) I still have mine from 1990.

@fernandofonseca3354 replies to @fernandofonseca3354: 😂😂😂 You may have a point. HNY !!!

@DarkSideofSynth replies to @fernandofonseca3354: The QY series rocks. Modern sequencers dream of having half the features those had back in the day. @@fernandofonseca3354

@Paul58069:  Hello Michael, you are absolutely right. The so called fills in this drumtrack are absolutely atrocious. It stumbles and stumbles and might sound 1/4 okay in isolation, but they are completely out of sync with the song. I noticed it the day the song came on the radio the first time, and I cannot un-notice it now, no matter how hard I try. Programming ? To me it sounds more like a preset rhythm from a home organ accompanying device, with a "fill" button. Cheap and cheesy. I doubt if even Phil would like it. How is he, btw ? Yes, this song can benefit from a new drumtrack. Leave out the stumbles next time please.

@credenza1 replies to @Paul58069: Perhaps the entire drum tack was created for another song? As you say, a home organ backing .

@myturkishlife1777:  Arrrgh, now im off to bed with this bloody song in my head 😳😳
Great video 😁👍

@maidsandmuses replies to @myturkishlife1777: That's why everyone needs a few "eraser" tracks in their song collection; tracks that instantly obliterate any undesirable song that may have got stuck in your head. Sort of the musical equivalent of prawn crackers, or pickeled ginger...
Try some very unique stand-out songs that you really like; they have to be quite different to most other music, nothing average or middle-of-the-road, or it won't work.

@myturkishlife1777 replies to @myturkishlife1777: @@maidsandmuses ah yes a good idea, I will try that 👍

@artysanmobile:  “Even Ringo?” Can’t imagine why a drum machine would bother your dullard senses.

@NeilVanceNeilVance:  The snare is tuned quite low in this song, this does make the snare sound more 'duff duff duff' just like Prince also did on the Linn LM-1.

@michelvondenhoff9673 replies to @NeilVanceNeilVance: Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins flashed the eproms with John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) samples.

@zloboslav_:  I don't mind drum machines, it's a vibe. :)

@axymoulm:  To me it's still appealing to hear these cheesy Kick and Snare hits of that old Linn box though we could have drums like these recorded with full dynamics in a 24 Bit/192kHz through converters with super SNR. We could talk about even more primitive vintage drum machines like a Korg Minipops – these do not even sound close to real drums but Jean Michel Jarre made a hit of them. Or think Shuggie Otis and the Maestro Rhythm King. By the way, I was born in ‘84 😀

@JohnFraserFindlay:  Different times🎉

@dazz1566:  I can tell you the worst song with the worst use of Linn Drum? Break Your Back by Ultravox. I would very much to hear your analysis of it. And try to argue it’s even exist? I did love your breakdown of the Wham Single. Significant for me as my eldest was born in November 1984. And I was just 18. Thank you for your videos. I thoroughly enjoy them. Happy New Year.

@RebeccaTurner-ny1xx replies to @dazz1566: I don't think that little-known Vox B-side has anything like the worst Linning around. At least Warren was trying something different and used Song Mode. Far more egregious to me were the many - including a Mr M. Jackson - who lazily found a groovy Linn pattern and recorded it for a few minutes and said, "That'll do".

@dazz1566 replies to @dazz1566: @@RebeccaTurner-ny1xx Vox shuda concentrated on 'Face To Face' which was only played live with that spectacular Billy Currie ARP solo, by making it into a proper track / B-Side. As for MJ? As for simple loop of a groove? I spose we could blame him partly for a big %age of the trash we hear today. Lazyitus. And people buy / stream it. Ugh.

@RebeccaTurner-ny1xx replies to @dazz1566: @@dazz1566 Yes, 'Face to Face' deserved a studio recording - though without Billy's rather basic guitar playing, perhaps.

@nickmoranis2865:  A quaver is a crisp.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @nickmoranis2865: A wotsit is a note of indeterminate duration.

@D-C1 replies to @nickmoranis2865: 🤣🤣🤣@@AudioMasterclass

@nickmoranis2865:  The drum track was made by Bill Ward on a Casio Digital Drum.

@EgoShredder:  1980s YouTuber Espen Kraft covered the drum aspect in his recent video. You might want to compare and contrast your findings https://youtu.be/orXG2NEFq_A

@ac81017:  I've always hated this song just because of that lifeless sounding drum machine. I bet even Ringo could do a better job.

@richardsinger01 replies to @ac81017: You don't rate Ringo then?

@CaptainDarrick replies to @ac81017: @ac81017
Are you insane ? Ringo was the antithesis of this awful garbage song . He was the exact OPPOSITE of everything this drum machine sounded like . In fact , of all the drummers on earth, Ringo is probably the only one who could have brought this awful awful dirge of a song to life . Don't you DARE slag off Ringo..

@user-st8bk4sk9i:  What a coincidence - I heard the song on the radio two days ago and the drum track (drum machine) really made me cringe. How strange I really didn't notice back in 1984 - even though I hated the song even back then. The drum track is intricate, but many fills and variations combined with song and melody sound awkward and misplaced🙂 Happy New Year, David!!!

@davebullard:  I am a drummer! My brain keeps expecting to hear "come on, vogue" after some of those drum "fills". Also for some reason I keep thinking of Ringo. Thank you for this very interesting review. Many hemi-demi-semi quavers to you and yours...

@LVeAV replies to @davebullard: Ringo is so underrated as a drummer. Maybe not the most technical drummer but he drums like a machine, I hate drummers who always end up speeding up songs live and forcing the other members of the band to keep up.

Ringo can be counted on to play like it like he recorded. Makes the live version from him like hearing a studio performance. He's a drummer's drummer.

@djretro83:  Here is what the LinnDrum has: Kick (with and without accent), Snare (without and with 2 varying accents), Closed HiHat (with and without accent) Open HiHat (same level as the accented Closed Hat), Crash Cymbal, Ride Cymbal (with and without accent), 3 Toms, Sidestick, Claps, Cowbell, 2 Congas, Tambourine (with and without accent) and finally the Cabasa (with and without accent). I own all 3 Linn machines plus the LinnSequencer.

Yes, they are all the same samples.

@radman8321:  It has come back several times since its original release, but in recent years has benefitted from playlist streams. This year, because they wanted to give it an extra push, they rereleased it on CD single, for those of us of a certain age :-)

@johnviera3884 replies to @radman8321: comeback?
yes. every December since 1985

@Somulo:  And Raunchy (a Denmark band) got best metal cover of this song :D

@AudioMasterclass replies to @Somulo: A good demonstration of why the double kick drum pedal should never have been invented.

@Somulo replies to @Somulo: @@AudioMasterclass yet skill of metal drummer and just a drummer is crucial in a way of skill

@EgoShredder replies to @Somulo: @@AudioMasterclass I have a lot of Metal music in my collection that uses double kick patterns, but I have very rarely included any double kick pattern sections in my own music. It's just not that versatile or creative enough to use with most musical ideas, and it tends to dominate and fill up too much space, rather than integrate and combine using the space more imaginatively. Even world class drummers like Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater fame, can only do so much with double kick patterns.

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Thursday January 4, 2024

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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