Divine – Lately

First Hit #1: November 28, 1998

Lately is a gospel-inspired song, but I kind of wish it had more gospel in there. It’s got the church organ and the big vocal harmonies, and that’s good. But there’s also a bit of pandering to the popular musical movements in there as well, and that cuts the power of the song. Basically, there’s a synthesized beat that’s clearly trying to bring some contemporary hip-hop influence into Divine’s music, but it cuts what makes Divine unique. The vocal performances are great, this is a three woman choir that could easily carry the song on their own. They prove this multiple times, they prove it most effectively on a late-song vocal breakdown that goes almost instrument free. But that one instrumental element, while bringing it in line with popular trends, undermines the entire operation. It works to sap the uniqueness straight out of the song, since it’s not actually a particularly interesting variation on the idea and it’s just so blandly implemented. Divine would just work better with fewer elements to get in the way of their singing.

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One Response to Divine – Lately

  1. RBerman says:

    I didn’t think I knew this song, but I guess I did. I know they were going for the gospel music connection, but it’s still not image-smart to name a girl group after an obese transvestite, moreso now, in the age of Google.

    Another Supremes homage video, this time in the jungle. I wish they were a black Wilson Phillips, but the relative lack of harmony (mostly solo verses, and a mostly unison chorus, even during the breakdown) makes them the black Banarama instead. Still, each of them gets a verse, and it’s a great chorus melody. There’s that TR808 bass drum again too.

    Irish R&B singer Samantha Mumba had an international hit with her version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaS1zseI_hw), which does start and breakdown with the gospel vocals you were wanting, but she doesn’t carry them throughout the song either. She does have a little more harmony than Divine, though.

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