Friday, October 25th, 2019

Andrea Bocelli ft. Ellie Goulding – Return to Love

Partirò means partirò…


Ian Mathers: All I can muster for this turgid pile is “great voices, beautiful voices”.

Hazel Southwell: This is absolutely not my bag on any level but it extremely is the bag of the massive demographic that both listen to musical soundtracks and love The Killers. It does what it does with almost cynical precision and both Bocelli and Goulding deliver performances that are the opposite of career-defining but craft the theatre expertly. Prepare to hear it as the soundtrack to many, probably very happy, first dances.

Katherine St Asaph: For years, Sarah Brightman was my favorite musician, yet virtually the only intersection she ever had with the world outside my laptop speakers was the Andrea Bocelli duet “Time to Say Goodbye,” which I despise. The song is not single-handedly responsible for wrenching classical crossover away from the likes of Malcolm McLaren and The Fifth Element and other actually interesting music — for that you must blame the Three Tenors, or the advertising industry’s ’80s trend of mass-commercializing arias. But the song compounded that tranquilizing, balladizing, McMansion-gala-with-fake-columns-izing, desexing (ironic because it’s removing the sex from opera, doubly ironic because one big name was a sexual harasser for decades and another has been whispered about for years), and adult-contemporizing effect, a hollowing out of the genre that will persist as long as the boring stuff has a relatively massive audience, which it still does. Ellie Goulding has another, largely separate massive audience, and a separate musical style — these days, more like five. So you’d think “Return to Love” would be the sort of futile grab for Adult Hits radio play that the likes of Céline Dion or Renee Fleming occasionally attempt. But no, “Return to Love” is a return to standard Andrea Bocelli, and here Ellie Goulding in particular sounds startlingly like Sarah Brightman in pop mode. It’s an act that sounds like it took a lot of conscious effort, and you can hear the spots where Goulding’s voice slips (like the sudden shipment of avocaydies in the first few notes of “no, I’m still afraid”). I’m sure it’ll get her the “wow, she can really sing!”s she undoubtedly seeks, although given how low she’s mixed, maybe not. The arrangement takes no chances, but that’s only half the reason why I despise “Time to Say Goodbye” and dislike this. Like the earlier duet, this is a presumably dramatic lyric, only given a dramatic arrangement for like thirty seconds, mixed like everyone’s ashamed the strings started sweeping and the music started swelling and the beat started to almost exist. It’s classical crossing over to Christina Perri; I would legitimately rather hear Andrea Bocelli ft. Juice WRLD.

Alfred Soto: Ellie Goulding’s chalky yearning works fine. The problem is the star’s overqualified pipes, quashing the banalities of what he might think is mere pop. When the reverse happens — see Donna Summer’s “I Will Return to You” — the results are better. 

Scott Mildenhall: Return? When you said partirò it sounded like you meant it. In fact, nothing here really suggests you’ve changed your mind.

Stephen Eisermann: Like a duet from a Disney animated film, where it’s very easy to tell who the professional singer is and who the professional actor is. Ellie doesn’t sound bad, she just sounds oh so out of place. 

Alex Clifton: So you’re telling me this isn’t an advert for PBS’s winter music specials? From a technical standpoint it’s quite good, but it’s a long ballad to slog through and I don’t have the patience to return to this song again.

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