NELLY FURTADO: “I’M LIKE A BIRD”
Portuguese-Canadian songstress Nelly Furtado hit the Top 10 back in 2000 with her sultry debut single “I’m Like a Bird,” a deceptively melancholy flight-of-fancy kiss-off of sorts that soars even higher in its Dolby Atmos form. (“Bird” ultimately appeared on Furtado’s acclaimed October 2000 debut album, Whoa, Nelly!)
The song’s dramatically programmed, Mellotron-inspired opening is spread wide across the stage, at first unfolding like an homage to some of the most legendary progressive bands of yore. Then Furtado changes the song’s direction completely by entering the fray right down the middle with her sinewy opening line, “You’re beautiful / That’s for sure.” Concurrently, a clear bell-like ping goes off to the right of center and continues resonating further off to the right, while a 21st century kind of beat takes over the rhythm, mostly centered by subtly moving right to left in a tautly contained fashion. The beat laid down by Russ Miller is so forceful, in fact, that it should feel like he’s just one hit away from busting a drumhead and bursting through your speakers and/or headphones in the process.
The ping returns to swirl its position around while programmed effects and guitar lines echo and pinwheel outward behind her vocals. When Furtado gets to the title line and chorus, her layered voice rises even higher above the plane, her layered responses spreading wider and wider.
Furtado extends the vowels in the words “faith” and “true” in her second verse, with an even stronger layered vocal split on the second chorus. Listen for how she warbles her way through the now multi-syllabic word “through” and the way the Mellotron figure returns behind her in the mix in the song’s back half. The more she repeats the chorus lines, the higher and wider she ascends.
Indeed, this “Bird” flies true and free across the skies and fields in Atmos, easily making it our favorite Made for Spatial Audio track of the week.
IMAGINE DRAGONS: “BONES”
Last Friday, March 11, Las Vegas’ favorite sons Imagine Dragons hit us with “Bones,” the lead single from their forthcoming sixth album, Mercury – Act 2, and it’s a real desert-burner in Dolby Atmos, in turn reinforcing the band’s acumen for consistently producing anthemic singalongs for these muddled modern times.
“Bones” opens with a whoosh of a volume swell like a spaceship readying for takeoff before vocalist Dan Reynolds chimes in with “Gimme gimme gimme some time to think,” anchored in the center but also somewhat above the field and filled in all around. A lone keyboard riff fills in behind him as his next line starts in the right and then shifts to the left, and back. His “oohs” fly to the sky before the “aie-ee-aie” chorus kicks in with the layered background vocals just a step behind Reynolds’ leads—not to mention the slam of the rhythm section behind it all.
The pounding drum beat—think Art of Noise, “Close (to the Edit)”—slams hard behind Reynolds on the second verse, as other voices travel around him. When the Dragons get to the bridge, the vocal moves with additional effects somewhat behind and around, but quite supportive of, the main action, all in the name of building to a big, wide payoff until everything drops out and the spaceship noises sizzle and fade back into the distance—and/or to the next adjacent sonic galaxy.
“Is this entertaining?” Reynolds queries with various inflections, and field placements, all throughout the track. Thanks to Spatial Audio, I can feel the song’s magic in my bones.
5 SECONDS OF SUMMER: “TEETH”
Australian pop-rock superstars 5 Seconds of Summer hit it out of the park with “Teeth,” an energetic track initially sprung as the second single released almost seven full months ahead of their March 2020 album CALM—and it display even more of an industrialized chomp in Atmos.
A centered, melodic bassline sets the table for Luke Hemmings’ whispery vocal entry, with each of his mostly centered words enunciated crisp and clear to start. And then said vocal gets manipulated with effects and placement shifts as the track carries onward—the result of some truly savvy mixing moves courtesy the notable production tandem of Andrew Watt and Louis Bell.
A reggae-like chucka-chucka guitar line enters on the second verse, dominant in the left and delayed in the right, before Hemmings takes his vocal into the stratosphere of the field, as a full keyboard bed runs all aswirl behind him before it breaks outward—and then 5SOS really kick it into overdrive. The title word “Teeth” literally opens wide across the stage, as the backing percussion becomes more prominent in the center.
When the backing track drops out momentarily, drumstrick percussion taps insistently burrow off to the left, then rattle over to the middle. “Sweet” is the next word to get spread out. Hemmings’ ensuing vocals sound like they’re practically underwater before his huffy inflections—the style of which Michael Jackson surely would have approved—add to the percussive track behind him, ultimately bearing to the left.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about that guitar line I mentioned at the outset, the one that you’re also hearing all throughout the track that occasionally mimes the bassline as well? That’s courtesy of Rage Against the Machine’s activist guitar icon, Tom Morello.
Bottom line: 5SOS’s “Teeth” sure has a lotta bite in Atmos, that’s for sure.
JUSTIN BIEBER: “PEACHES (FEAT. DANIEL CAESAR & GIVĒON)”
Canadian vocal phenom Justin Bieber is officially all-in when it comes to Spatial Audio, as his entire discography is now available in our favorite format. In an official statement, Bieber acknowledged, “It’s great that fans can now experience my music with the same quality and dynamics we hear in the studio”—and who are we to argue with that brand of logic?
Fact is, the proof is in the pudding—or, in this case, it’s in the “Peaches,” the No. 1 single from his March 2021 album Justice, a trap-grooving track that makes the most of its mid-tempo groove. Bieber’s lead vocal is at top volume and way out front as he enters “Peaches” center left, his own counter vocal responses to himself a half-dB down at best in the same position, while both vocal lines get sweetened with a touch of cool reverb to boot. Vocal-tuned effects come into play on the second verse, which is now supported with full bass and minimalist percussion.
Canadian R&B singer/songwriter Daniel Caesar enters the vocal arena next with a sweet, sweet Maxwell-ian tone on his verse down the middle as supportive guitar lines spread wide on both sides. Also dig the fine vocal blend on words like “torture” and “hold her.” American R&B sensation Giveon follows Caesar, his mature, pleading tone nestled somewhat up high before Bieber and a swirling keyboard figure roll the last half home together, along with some additional percussion loops and an outro synth solo just right of center (with the briefest of a brief organ counterline off to the left).
“Peaches” is a natural treat in Atmos, without a doubt.
LUIS FONSI & DADDY YANKEE: “DESPACITO (FEAT. JUSTIN BIEBER) [REMIX]”
Puerto Rican vocalist Luis Fonsi spearheaded the international sensation known as “Despacito” back in 2017, aided and abetted by a fellow Puerto Rican, rapper Daddy Yankee, along with guest vocalist Justin Bieber on the super-popular remix—and now this chart-topping reggaeton classic springboards into a newer, fuller life in its Spatial Audio incarnation.
Cuatro and acoustic guitar open the track, and you can hear the string resonation that results from the individually plucked notes at center left before a fade-in cymbal enters and Bieber begins the first verse, replete with a few words perfectly inflected in Spanish. (Gotta give him props on how he inflects “laberinto,” most especially.) Fonsi takes the reins next, the reggaeton backing track and cymbal taps remaining minimalist to let his flow control the salsa-fied groove.
When all voices converge on the title word “Despacito” (which means “slowly”), it fills the stage up high and all around, with Daddy Yankee injecting one counter yelp deep on the right, then another to the left before moving to the forefront in Español and ping-ponging his rapped lines right to left, sometimes within the same line.
The track gets denser as Bieber sings more in Spanish, with whoops, hollers, and the guache and güira percussion spread even wider to broaden the track until everything drops out with Fonsi’s impassioned read on the title word. His voice gets doubled and the cuatro figure returns for the intro callback, initially behind him in the mix before splitting the channels, with Bieber getting the final word unto himself in full.
“Despacito” is fast becoming another Spatial Audio favorite.
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF SPATIAL AUDIO
For more about the specs, gear, and setup options you’ll need to experience the very best of the ever-expanding Apple Music universe of fully immersive Made for Spatial Audio Dolby Atmos mixes, go here.
Still want more Made for Spatial Audio options to listen to before an all-new Spatial Audio File returns next Friday? Go to Apple Music: Spatial Audio Relations to get an additional all-channel fill.