NPR logo Just Sing The Damn Song!

Just Sing The Damn Song!

Paul Gregg/iStock
angry little boy
Paul Gregg/iStock

If you missed it, on our recent SXSW preview show, I revealed one of the secret ingredients you can add to a song to get Bob Boilen to love it: speak singing. He's a total sucker for it. If an artist rattles off his or her lyrics in more of a spoken monotone than a sung melody (like Lou Reed), you can reel Bob in, hook, line and sinker.

Conversely, I can't think of anything that turns me off from a song faster. I don't want to mention any names, but let's just say albums by Leonard Cohen or the Joy Division or The Hold Steady aren't exactly the first records I reach for (all brilliant artists, just not my thing).

This is probably because of another difference between Bob's music listening habits and my own. He listens first for the lyrics and if the lyrics aren't strong, regardless of the music, he'll move on. I on the other hand listen first for melody and chord progression, followed immediately by instrumentation and production and then, lastly, the lyrics. Someone can sing names out of a phonebook and as long as the music and melody are awesome, I probably won't even notice. The further you get away from an actual melody, the closer you get to performance art. And I'm not a big fan of performance art.

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But tell us what you think. We're looking to do a show about speak singing. Tell us your favorite songs that feature this (irritating-but-I-know-Bob-and-others-love) style and why you like them. We'll feature some of the picks on an upcoming edition of All Songs Considered.