Feist and Beauty & the Beast Duets

On this week's episode of Sound Opinions, Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot sit down with indie rock chanteuse, Feist. Jim and Greg also review the new duet record by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan and look back at some of rock's other great duet performances.

Leslie Feist
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This week Jim and Greg play scientist and talk to two professors, P. Jason Rentfrow of Cambridge University and Duncan Watts of Columbia University, about recent studies that seek to find out why we like the music we do. The first study asked college students to rate one another based on their favorite music. According to Dr. Rentfrow's findings, people who like music with a lot of vocals were found to be more extroverted. In addition, people who have eclectic taste in music were considered to be more open-minded and intellectually curious -- a fact that bodes well for Sound Opinions listeners.

The second experiment conducted at Columbia University confirmed two widely held suspicions: Most people are sheep, and you can't predict a hit. Duncan Watts and his graduate students asked participants to go online, listen to a selection of songs and download what they liked. The results showed that people tended to choose songs which had already been chosen a number of times. This may account for why some songs stay on the Billboard charts for as long they do. The study also found that there was really no formula for song popularity. One song, "Lockdown" by 52Metro, ranked first in one test, but only 40th out of 48 in another.

The next story involves the perpetual newsmaker Michael Jackson. After Hurricane Katrina first devastated the gulf coast, Jackson announced that he would produce a single to raise money for disaster relief. Well, that was many moons ago, and the world has yet to hear a tune. Recently, however, an announcement was made regarding the song's status by the Prince of Bahrain, the king of pop's newly crowned representative. Sheik Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, will release the record on his own 2 Seas label. While the song reunites Jackson with partner-in-crime R. Kelly, as well as Ciara and Snoop Dogg, it does not have the star power of previous releases like "We Are the World."


This week's guest is Leslie Feist, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter. Born in Calgary and bred in the Toronto music scene, Feist is one of many Canadian indie acts rising in popularity. It seems that our neighbor to the north is the next Seattle or Portland. Bands like Broken Social Scene and Peaches, who can both claim Feist as collaborators, plus The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Metric, Stars, The Constantines, Hidden Cameras, and Death from Above 1979, are all coming out of Canada (and are all a far cry from Shania Twain or Bryan Adams). During her interview with Jim and Greg, Feist performs "Gatekeeper," "Mushaboom," and a cover of "Secret Heart" by Ron Sexsmith. There are a number of covers on her latest album, Let It Die, including "In and Out" by The Bee Gees and "Now at Last" by Blossom Dearie.

"Beauty and the Beast" Duets

The album up for review this week is Ballad of the Broken Seas by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan. Before our hosts review the new record, they take a look back at a few of rock's other "Beauty and the Beast" duets:

  • Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, "Love Hurts"
  • Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot, "Bonnie and Clyde"
  • Ja Rule and Ashanti, "Always on Time"
  • Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, "Some Velvet Morning"

Ballad of the Broken Seas Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell

Ballad of the Broken Seas

After listening to some of Lanegan and Campbell's predecessors, Jim and Greg discuss their modern take on the "Beauty and the Beast" formula. Many people know Lanegan from his days with the Screaming Trees in the '90s. Campbell recently left Belle and Sebastian, a band Jim and Greg reviewed last week, and her first move was asking Lanegan to join her for a duet album, Ballad of the Broken Seas. While in many of the songs above, the Beast seems to be preying on the poor innocent female, it is Isobel Campbell who is controlling most of the content on the record. Her voice is a sweet counterpart to Lanegan's low, masculine rumble, but she was the songwriter and the producer. Both Jim and Greg give her efforts a "Buy It" rating.


Jim picks a song to add to the Desert Island Jukebox this week. All that talk about Canada got him thinking about one of his favorite bands—Rush. This band might not always get a lot of respect, but Jim believes they gave virtuoso prog rock performances. He chooses not to go with one of Rush's epic songs, which could take up half a show, and instead picks a track called "Trees." This song, released on the band's 1978 album Hemispheres, tells the story of a battle of the wills between maple trees and oak trees. If that doesn't convince you of the band's greatness, listen for drummer Neal Peart's woodblock solo!

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!