Beautiful Strangers, a pop rock song in need of your feedback

Hi all,

Here’s a new song by a Singaporean indie artist. I produced it (including mixing and mastering) so I’m more interested in your feedback on the production although I’m always curious about what you think of the song itself.

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I like it, very interesting. For some reason, during the early part of the song I got kind of a James Bond movie theme song feel to the key and melody. Later it’s more upbeat and jazzy, even somewhat reminiscent of early Mariah Carey with the vocal runs etc.

Production seems very good to me. My one critique on first listen is I find it hard to focus on the lyrics in the vocals as the piano seems in the same frequency range as her voice, and a little bit of ‘masking’ occurs that makes them kind of blend together. Her little scats and vocal riffs create the effect of an ‘instrument’ anyway, so it’s like they’re playing off of each other as, say, two ‘dueling’ guitars would. I think this also creates the sense that her vocals are pushed off to the left with the piano on the right. As best I can tell the vocals are center, but it seems like a psycho-acoustic perception that they’re vocals left/piano right.

The instrumentals work very well IMO. I really like that section at 2:25-2:45 where the guitar, bass, and electric piano interact. And the solos after that.

Really cool when her vocal run ending note at 3:57 intersects with the outro guitar solo note. Very smooth.

As to the song, I still didn’t ‘figure it out’ after several listens. I think her voice and vocal riffs and fills are astounding, very fun to listen to, and a lot of emotion in it. I just didn’t get a clear sense of a “story” that the lyrics were telling. It may be partly because of the vocal/piano frequency masking I mentioned earlier … but I did try to listen very carefully and only got a vague sense what the Beautiful Strangers were up to. It would probably help if I saw a lyric sheet. And maybe there wasn’t supposed to be a clear storyline there, it’s not a narrative ballad type of song at all, more of a fun Pop song I guess.

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Thank you so much for a detailed feedback.

Your comments on the piano/vocals interference are interesting, maybe I didn’t spend enough time listening to the mix outside the studio. Yes I confirm that the vocals are dead center (can be easily checked by switching from stereo to mono).

Really cool when her vocal run ending note at 3:57 intersects with the outro guitar solo note. Very smooth.

Haha that’s really pleasant to read, I wasn’t sure anyone would notice this little trick I used.

As to the song, I still didn’t ‘figure it out’ after several listens

I kind of agree with you here, it seems that either there’s not much of a story or the author failed to translate what she had in mind into words. It doesn’t prevent me from being a fan of the song though. :smile:

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The crazy thing about modern pop and jazz and even country is how much rock energy is included. Big guitar and bass and drums, but this is otherwise very soft, carried by her lovely voice and the piano.

The mix itself is spot on IMO, @Lophophora. The arrangement is strong, too, for an upbeat pop jazz work. Its lyrics are mainly a technical vehicle for her singing, with ‘beautiful sister’ almost a vocal hook, but barely. I’m not sure, @Stan_Halen, if the piano is holding back the message that much.

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If I had to make a guess, I’d probably say the song is an indulgent celebration of “two ships passing in the night” or something to that effect. That was just my perception/assumption. A song doesn’t have to have a story, but they usually need some kind of theme, and this one does have that. If this was played in a bar/club atmosphere nobody would be asking the kind of questions I did, they would just dance and enjoy it, and that’s the true test - if it accomplishes what it set out to do.

Per above, I don’t know that there’s even a message there. Just that I was looking for one. As I mentioned about the “dueling guitars” effect, it’s definitely something that catches the ear and entertains. And if that was the goal, it achieved it.

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I am digging it. Nicely done. Good fusion of jazz, r&b, and pop. Good mix.

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Good sound and good playing which you’ve handled well to my ears Lophophora. Is that a regular group or are they a studio combination?

The song is well done but for some reason my ears would like to hear it and this group doing less pop and more straight up funk. Just a thought

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This is mostly a studio combination, but most of the musicians regularly play with each other in various bands or studio work. I love the bass player and the singer so I am requesting their services quite regularly.

Interesting comment about straight up funk. I occasionally play (keys) with the bass player and the singer for gigs and we’re into funk music quite a lot.

This sounds excellent - Top job!

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Hey, first of all, I really like the singer voice, the recording really brings that very well to me.
The song is well written too and it’s easy to understand what the song suppose to say.
I also share previous ideas so I don’t write them all.

By the way, it’s a really nice job you did, congrats!!

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Woops. sorry I missed this. Looks like you have had a lot of help so far. Like the singer for sure. The mix sounds great to me. Like when it gets quiet and personal. I like when I can hear all the lyrics. First part of the lead break and a few keys parts were a little hot. Big sound for sure. Good job on your part.

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I missed this too. This is very nice. Love that bass guitar at 2:30, and the instrumental that follows. Nice song, great arrangement. The mix is very nice.

I’m thinking the vocals could use a little more low end, and just a few dB softer. A little more reverb or slap delay. Just a little thin to me. But I’m only listening right now on my laptop speakers, so feel free to ignore that. It really does sound quite nice, though.

Again, maybe cuz I’m on my laptop, but the bass could be louder IMO, but not much.

So, bottom line, those are some o’ my thoughts, but this really is a very well-done arrangement and mix. Well-balanced, professional sound.

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Thank you so much guys. If you like this singer I’ve just uploaded another song that features her vocals. The genre is more jazz/r&b this time. It’s called Lullaby and I co-wrote it.

Wow, really nice song, nice performance and tone…
When I gradually raise the volume up, it mght mean it sounds pretty good.

I really enjoy everything… maybe it has the same culprits as the previous mix :wink: