Surprising Cameos in Music
Have you ever been listening to a song and then you suddenly realized…you know the guest vocalist? You search through the CD leaflet or check on Wikipedia and…sure enough, it’s the person you thought it was. I’ve had a few of those revelations in the past and I’d like to take this week to share them with you.
TARJA TARUNEN (FINLAND) FEATURING JUSTIN FURSTENFIELD OF BLUE OCTOBER (UNITED STATES) – MEDUSA, FROM COLOURS IN THE DARK (2013)
Tarja is best known for being the original vocalist of Nightwish. Being kicked out of the band in 2005, Tarja continued to explore her creative ways and began a solo project simply called “Tarja” in 2006. Departing from the sounds of any power metal or gothic influence, her music has simply been symphonic metal and classical crossover. At the end of the second to most recent album, an eight minute song closes the record with a very haunting song. Midway through the song a male voice creeps in. I had absolutely no idea that it was Justin Furstenfield of Blue October. I was never a fan of Blue October, but the vocals he delivers on this album seem miles beyond anything he ever did before. I found it to be a very pleasant surprise. \
BAD RELIGION (UNITED STATES) FEATURING SAGE FRANCIS (UNITED STATES) – LET THEM EAT WAR, FROM THE EMPIRE STRIKES FAST (2004)
When you consider that Sage Francis and Bad Religion probably see eye to eye on many things (especially politics) and that a lot of the underground hip hop fanbase is converted skaters, this combination starts to make sense. This is a moment in a time when Bad Religion was really starting to pick up momentum in popularity (this album charted 40 on Billboard, the highest they attained to this point). Sage Francis was well established, but didn’t have a super strong following yet; he was still riding the coattails of tours with Atmosphere. Towards the end of this song, the band adjusts their tempo to fit Sage Francis’s voice and he molds his style to fit a more punk-oriented sound. It was something that I certainly did not expect.
AMASEFFER (ISRAEL) FEATURING ANGELA GOSSOW FROM (formerly) ARCH ENEMY (SWEDEN) – MIDIAN, FROM SLAVES FOR LIFE (2008)
Angela Gossow is certainly very known. In a time when bands were incorporating female singers left and right for an operatic and mellower feel, Arch Enemy decided that their female singer would take no prisoners and yield to no one. Though Amaseffer is from Israel, their singer, Mats Leven, is Swedish as well, so he may have run into her when he was in Therion, Candlemass, Krux, or any of the other myriad bands he played in. What I find really interesting is this album in itself is a masterpiece in my opinion. It’s the debut (and so far only) album from Amaseffer. This album is a story of the Israelites slavery in Egypt starting with the story of Moses’s birth and ending with the story of the Ten Plagues of Egypt. About five minutes into this twelve minute epic, Gossow lends some extremely brutal vocals that lend a much more intense tone to the song than it had previously. I wouldn’t have guessed it was her, but I also wasn’t surprised when I found out.
AYREON (NETHERLANDS) FEATURING BARRY HAY OF GOLDEN EARRING (NETHERLANDS) – SAIL AWAY TO AVALON, FROM THE FINAL EXPERIMENT (1995)
You may not recognize the name Barry Hay or maybe even Golden Earring for that matter. Being Dutch, it stands to reason that Ayreon would definitely feature him, especially in their debut album. Barry Hay and his band are famous for the songs “Radar Love” and “Bullet His the Bone”, the latter featuring lyrics about “stepping into the Twilight Zone”. Golden Earring has been around FOREVER, like literally. When time began, there was Golden Earring, sounding like a Beatles ripoff band before eventually developing their own distinct sound that sounded like a George Thorogood ripoff band. What’s really cool about this song is you hear Barry Hay stepping out of his comfort zone, really trying something new. Barry Hay also provided the flute for the song, which I thought was pretty awesome.
WITHIN TEMPTATION (NETHERLANDS) FEATURING XZIBIT (UNITED STATES) – AND WE RUN, FROM HYDRA (2014)
Within Temptation is a band that has been soaring in popularity lately. More than Epica and Nightwish, this is a band that features symphonic metal with a female singer and is doing even better commercially than the other two mentioned. The idea to feature a rapper in their song came from the guitarist and the idea was initially declined. After some persuading, they contacted Xzibit, who was unfamiliar with this style of music. He listened to some their work and decided that he would enjoy contributing to this song. They allowed him full lyrical control of his piece because they wanted to feature his artistic style as much as possible so long as the lyrical content fit the context of the rest of the song. Did it work out? You be the judge.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for joining me!