Cracking the P.Y.T. code: New technology reveals hidden lyrics in Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit single
09:32 am

35 years after its release Thriller remains the best-selling album of the millennium. After a lifetime of repeated listening, the record’s sixth single “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” (produced by Quincy Jones and co-written with James Ingram) has definitely emerged as my favorite track. It’s unclear why Jackson never performed the song live, but it remains a fan favorite from its immediately catchy funk/pop synthesized bassline to the fun “call-and-response” vocals between Michael and his sisters. Janet and LaToya who sing back-up on the “repeat after me and sing na na na” breakdown make it nearly impossible not to sing along every time you hear it on the radio. However, my favorite part of the song has always been the high-pitched “chipmunk vocals” that only arrive during the song’s outro. After all, who didn’t get a kick out of playing 33rpm records at 45rpm as a kid? But even when Kanye West sampled the outro, slowed it down, and looped it as the basis of his 2007 single “Good Life,” I was still left wondering after all these years, what the hell are those chipmunk vocals singing exactly?

A few years ago, Los Angeles-based music copyright specialist Drew Seventeen used a program called Audacity to pitch-shift the “P.Y.T.” vocals using “stems” (isolated pieces of a multitrack recording) that are intermittently available on the internet. Drew explained his project via e-mail:

“‘Good Life’ by Kanye West featuring T-Pain (heavily sampling that section) is actually my iPhone morning alarm song. So after hearing the voice hundreds of times in the dream-wakefulness transition, I became obsessed with knowing what the actual lyric was. I assumed the ‘tee’ and ‘see’ were chopped off in the final mix due to timing limits on early sampling technology, but the exposed stem also makes it clear that he just hits a lower note there which becomes unclear in the master recording.”

The results of Drew’s efforts can be heard here:


“I wanna love, you P.Y.T.
I wanna give, you T.L.C.”

Not only are the hidden lyrics of “P.Y.T.” revealed for the first time (clearly sung by Michael himself), but as an added bonus we can hear these lyrics are divided up by a “kiss” which gets buried in the actual studio mix of the track. 

More after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones
09:32 am
Rare recording of Kenneth Williams reading Gogol’s ‘Diary of a Madman’, 1963

Here is a rare and rather wonderful piece of Kenneth Williams’ archive: his brilliant interpretation of Nikolai Gogol’s farcical short story Diary of a Madman .

In 1963, Kenneth Williams agreed to narrate an animated version of Gogol’s Diary of a Madman for film-maker Richard Williams. The pair had previously worked together on the short cartoon Love Me Love Me. According to the splendid biography Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams by Christopher Stevens:

Gogol’s story gave lunatic scope to [Kenneth] Williams’s voices. It told of a lonely clerk, who is driven out of his wits by unrequited love until he succumbs to delusions that, as the uncrowned king of Spain, he is spied upon by talking dogs.

In a recording session that stretched for more than six hours without a break, Williams read from the clerk’s diary in a halting voice, like a man on a window-ledge who cannot will himself to suicide. Other personalities pierced the reading - the sadism of the office supervisor, the contempt of the boss’s daughter, the shrill proclamations of King Ferdinand VIII. ‘I was pretty hard on him, and made him read passages again and again to get the right effect. It freaked him out,’ Richard Williams recalled. ‘At one point he walked out of the studio and I had to run after him. It was a block and a half before I caught up and persuaded him to come back.’ Full of repetition and bitter nonsense, the piece is almost nauseating as the clerk slops and flounders towards insanity. While no recordings exist of Williams in his most unsettling stage roles, Diary of a Madman is proof of his merciless gift for sustained, upsetting performance.

Sadly the animation was never completed, but this incredible recording was later re-edited by the BBC and broadcast on Radio 4 in 1991.

Dramatization by James Burke
Music by Peter Shade
Directed by Richard Williams
Produced by Ned Chaillet
Re-mixed for radio by John Whitehall

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Kenneth Williams: Stop Messin’ About

Bonus - Kenneth Williams reads a classic ‘Just William’ tale, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
06:42 pm