The 10 Best Unreleased Regina Spektor Songs
Today (June 24), Regina Spektor released Home page, before and after, her eighth studio album and first in six years. Since its release 11:11 and The song in 2001 and 2002, respectively, the New York singer/songwriter had a very successful career, from landing songs on movie soundtracks to writing theme songs for Orange is the new black. She is an artist with many peers, but no one has replicated her unique ability to make listeners laugh and cry, individually or simultaneously, more than a piano and vocals. hers.
In addition to her eight studio albums, Spektor is also known for her songwriting abilities. During the 2012 promotion cycle What we see from cheap placesshe told NPR“I was lucky, because almost from the beginning, people were recording the shows… I am grateful to them, first of all, for taking the time and putting it online and sharing it with other listeners. , but also mainly. [for] myself, because there are so many songs I wouldn’t know how to play. I was so relieved to know that they were out there somewhere. Besides the many live recordings scattered throughout YouTube, many of Spektor’s unreleased songs exist as leaked demos, many of which are of unknown origin.
Sometimes these songs are brought back when she records a new album, as was the case with the two songs above Home page, before and after: “Raindrops” and “School love. The second one, in particular, was a fan favorite, and ended up being given a high-quality studio recording, pairing it with the lush strings that created the tension that before. the people in the room only felt when she performed live. Musicians with a variety of musical genres to explore are the most fun to become obsessed with. Having explored the depths of YouTube over the past decade to find as much as possible, I can say it’s a worthwhile endeavor.
Here are Spektor’s best unreleased songs. We can only hope they are never taken down or one day get the proper reception of an official release.
Religious examination is a common theme for Spektor, often performed in reflective songs like 2009’s “Laughing With” in 2009. In “Baby Jesus,” we get less humor and more wit. A poignantly poignant song, it tells the story of a figurine in a manger of Jesus that seems to come to life, growing 30 times its size and ringing in a new age. Spektor sounded pleased as she sang lines like, “All the unbelievers / They eat dirt / And the believers will spit in their graves,” with her tongue firmly planted on her cheek. In addition to its narrative, “Baby Jesus” is notable for its free shipping and staccato capabilities. Spektor sings fit and begins, alternating between a discreet whisper and a howl of joy.
The most striking thing about “Paris” is also what is immediately obvious. Spektor is rarely without her accompanying piano, but here she performs a cappella. It’s a succinct song, and while it’s unclear why Margaret Atwood or Virginia Woolf stopped her from knowing “sweet, sweet forever,” it’s still mesmerizing.
Perhaps the highest quality recording we have of an officially unreleased Spektor song, “A Cannon” exists in a swaying dream state. As she sings about bad omens and inevitable evasion, there’s an operatic drama about how the tune grows and shrinks. While the boat came to take her away, the cannon fired and the dagger she wielded in self-defense were all just fragments of vivid images, with no clear story to which they all fit. , it is undeniably beautiful.
While it’s functionally a song about songwriting, “Making Records” is also a song about the loneliness of making it. The chorus explores the specific freedoms we have when we’re alone with the many thoughts we have in mind, and how sometimes those freedoms aren’t necessarily positive. “Making Records” is one of Spektor’s more tortuous unreleased tracks, but its uncut nature makes it special.
Spektor immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union in 1989. It’s not something she writes a lot about in her music, it’s about “Rockland County”, she’s personal. She first spoke of her frustration with people, themselves immigrants, who think the United States should close its borders because they are “bad for the economy.” After the austere piano was rung again, she talked about how, unlike many who have been to Ellis Island, she had never seen the Statue of Liberty, instead she flew over in while looking Who framed Roger Rabbit?, despite not speaking English. It was captivating to hear her touch on this aspect of her childhood. This version on YouTube gets cut while Spektor plays, but it’s the only known version, so it will have to.
“School Is Out” was taken from a demo tape that was leaked in 1999, so it has a muffled sound quality. Even so, it’s a beautifully executed jazz ballad, with Spektor’s vocals having a warm, deep bass she’s rarely discovered since. 11:11by “Braille.” Its lyrics are more like scattered vignettes than an overarching narrative, like how many memories of our youth come back to us. In these flashy moments, Spektor walks halfway through the school, thinking about all the people she’s met there, and all the versions of herself that live there. While her performance was beautiful, it’s hard to imagine anyone else’s post could easily touch you while including the lines, “And there’s a nasty smell in the bathroom / Everyone hovering while the toilet is flushing / And there’s all this written on the bathroom wall.”
Spektor said at the start of a 2003 live performance of “Devil Come to Bethlehem”. It was a lovely moment. The warmth captured in them is what makes these recordings feel so special. At the start, she introduced us to Mary and Joseph, two of whom were just trying to save up to travel to Paris. The brief sketches that Spektor gives us make their love real. Biblical parables are densely packed here, but it’s all worth it for some of Spektor’s most inspirational lyrics: “Joseph and Mary have died so much / Honestly, it’s been years , it’s been years, it’s been many years / All their descendants have long since been buried and disappeared / And their closest relatives work in a Philadelphia Sears / Walk on water in a tub own bath / Turn that water into wine. It’s a verse that causes laughter in the audience, but speaks to the song’s broader message: No one really dies, because the things that keep us apart will live on in those who come after us. .
There’s a reason why this “Raindrops” video with hand-drawn illustrations has over six million views, and that’s because, no matter how simple the song, it’s one of the loveliest. that Regina Spektor used to do. The piano is delicate and delicate, and Spektor’s voice conveys the sweetness of every word she sings. It had a vintage feel to it that made it feel like she was singing a substandard piano piece, the kind of song a piano teacher might give a better student. “Raindrops” is one of the last two old songs that was officially released on Home, before and afterand its studio version doesn’t sacrifice its magic, just enhances it with some subtle strings.
For an artist whose song is best known as a retelling of Samson and Delilah, it’s perhaps surprising that there’s another song in her arsenal that focuses on haircuts. “I Cut Off My Hair” combines some of Spektor’s classic lyrical conventions, such as references to New York City landmarks, and a story that starts off simple before falling into surrealism. Its vibrating piano sound is simple yet effective in infusing a sense of magic into the song. It moves at a fast pace, but never feels rushed. There’s a sense of urgency in every note, as our narrator reels from her evening’s happenings. We’re lucky that this track was in such a state when its demo leaked, because it’s similar in quality to her previous albums. 11:11 and The songmake it possible to listen continuously.
A song ostensibly about Spektor’s astrological sign, “Aquarius” is one of her most impressively written songs, despite never making it off YouTube. As she cries out to anyone who will listen, she sings about her tendency to make quick judgments and her inability to understand herself, wondering if these traits were born to her. out or not. Although Aquarius is an air sign, it is still a water carrier sign. Here, Spektor demonstrates the difficulty of holding onto water as she “grabs the water in her fist”, only to let it escape her grasp quickly. It’s a song about fate, free will, and how cold February is.
Eric Bennett is a music critic with lines at After the trash, The Gray Estates and Replace. They are also co-hosts of Endless scroll, a weekly podcast about the intersection of music and internet culture. You can follow them on Twitter at @violet_by_hole.