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Semi-Toned

University of Exeter

Candle in the Wind - Single (2017)

5.0

Review By Dom Otto Asís

February 2, 2018

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I have been a fan of Semi-Toned for a long time. This new single of the Elton John classic proves that my fandom remains solid.

How would you make a great a cappella cover of a song originally written to honor Marilyn Monroe and later used as a memorial for Princess Diana? Semi-Toned gives justice to its interpretation of Candle in the Wind. First, it's a tearjerker — I would not listen to this version when I'm sad. The lead singer Michael Luya sings with so much heart that he doesn't need to showcase fancy vocal tricks to send his message. Whatever your story in life is, Candle in the Wind gives such a feeling of loneliness and sorrow. It's a captured drama in the form of a song.

Arrangers Eddie Henley and Tommy Hamer have an effective formulaic arc for a nice built-up cover — starting with a single note, then backed up by several voices in closed vowel sounds before the open vowel sounds enter, and then back to "ooh". In theory, it's pretty easy to perfect that idea but it takes a lot of practice to really execute a well-blended vowel sound. And those random dissonant chords at the beginning could send the listener into a state of confusion before the chord resolutions that follow ahead feel satisfying. Technicality aside, the emotion contributed by each member is audible and these guys must have poured their hearts into their performance. Coming from a listener, the message is well-received.

I'm sure Sir Elton John would be very proud to hear Semi-Toned's version of Candle in the Wind.

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