Pure Music: Magma-Otis
For the first ninety seconds, Otis sounds like a classic Olive Garden thumper. Just something smooth and easy listening to enjoy while digging into a giant trash can full of iceberg lettuce with friends and family. But Magma lead singer Christian Vander veers away from family-style dining at 1:37.
If you were to cut the next two minutes of Otis into its own track some music fans might be convinced that Vander’s epic vocal run was the prolonged shrieks of a half-empty ketchup bottle on the squeeze. On a personal note, it reminds me of a short period around my first colonoscopy, a time of a great disturbance in the Caucasus mountain region of the bowels. But for others, Mr. Vander opens up a giant portal into another world where music is not defined by the rhythm or harmony of sound but by the ability to make you cry in an empty computer lab.
When dry heaving up sonic comparisons it can be super helpful to tap into karaoke theory. I come from the school of thought that there’s never enough O’Jays or Stevie Nicks songs to keep karaoke mics happy. But occasionally someone will dabble in fire and try to sing I Will Always Love You.
There are three people allowed to sing I Will Always Love You; Dolly, Whitney and whoever’s birthday it is. Otis sounds like what it feels like when you watch a regular citizen try out I Will Always Love You.
For a few brief moments everything seems possible but then about the 1:48 of I Will Always Love You the mask drops and it is abundantly clear that only the purest of the pure can ascend. Those who try this song out at karaoke and inevitably fail have two options; they can order an Uber mid-song or swing their Bud Light Lime around to ward off criticism.
I recognize that there’s a giant chasm of talent separating Otis from I Will Always Love You. There’s probably a pretty good bulk of humanity that can’t handle Christian Vander’s pterodactyl chops medically or stylistically but I fucking love this song. If I had a time machine I would travel to that French television station and camp out the night before. Why the night before? Because if I showed up five minutes prior to performance I just don’t think I would be ready for the grandeur of its ethos.