Once upon a time, before musicians were "emancipated" from the stability of permanent work and board known as Patronage, the great and the wealthy who employed these musicians sometimes found themselves praised in music. And why not? They were paying for the privilege.
In sharp contrast we have the unusual presentation of music in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne. The concert included a variety of acts and a variety of music. It praised many things. But oddly enough, not the Queen herself. Eric Coates' Three Elizabeths Suite is perhaps the last music written specifically to honour a living Monarch. We can play music to a Queen. We can play music in the presence of a Queen. But music for a Queen is something else. In short, it is nothing like the specially composed Jubilee song called "Sing" (by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gary Barlow).
This was not a concert for the Queen but to make the people happy in conjunction with the Queen. Likewise this was not a song for the Queen but a sentimental, schmalzy piece of Eurovision style hairdressers music, contrived to be popular but not to praise the Queen.
We approach the throne too lightly in Sing.
We also blaspheme in saying that she brought light, hope and conquered fear.
This is an unusual combination: on the one hand the Queen is not respected and yet she is afforded too much praise, that which is due to God.
Musically speaking, there is nothing to commend this song:
- The melody is not composed to be sung with ease. The line has hard edges and terribly forced syncopation.
- The word-setting is amateurship, with lines stretched too far.
- The structure is mystifying.
- There is no harmonic sense to the melody. Sing it without the backing track and what do you have?
- The performances are not good enough. This is the Queen. If any mortal should have a professional performance it should be the Queen. This is not a national grandmother who pats us all on the head and says we are wonderful. For the honour of the position, the performers ought to be the best, not well-meaning but nervous-through-lack-of-experience amateurs.
- Men were excluded from singing. Why?
It says so much about the people of the U.K. that the YouTube versions of the song have near unanimous support. We are too much in love with mediocrity.