As so comes every trend, it also goes. First it was auto-tune, followed by producers in particular who were done to death until their sound became ‘generic’ (electro-pop anyone?). Then, trends in lyrical subject matter stroke, especifically centered on self-esteem and promoting self empowerment, the use of saxophone in breakdowns had its mini stint, and now it is all about the whistle.

Mainstream songs number one aim is to be catchy, and what is catchier than what brings about the effect of the catchy but the whistle in itself. Britney Spears’ collaborating producer Max Martin incorporated a playful whistle in the pre-chorus of one of her Femme Fatale cuts, ‘I Wanna Go’; everyone praised the particular feat the most, calling it the song’s highlight. Maroon 5 have gone down the same road, and have flooded the verses of ‘Moves Like Jagger’ with cheerful whistles, converting what could’ve been just another Maroon 5 track, into earworm and a memorable sing-along. Mexican singer Ximena Sariñana also added a whistle in the main melody of her most recent offering, ‘Different’ off her eponymous sophomore album.

Whistles are certainly not a new thing. Before Spears, Maroon 5 and Sariñana, there was KT Tunstall, who featured diverse beats generated by mouth modulations in her most recent album Tiger Suit, a perfect sonic marriage of folk and electronic textures, termed as ‘Nature Techno’ by Tunstall herself. What Tunstall brought was not exactly beat boxing, but whistling and flairs of vocally modulated air to constitute for a beat sequence. There also is Mariah Carey, who widely flaunted her whistle register throughout tracks in Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel (personally, a very underrated album); those who found it too ‘old school’ and ‘forgettable’, did note the melodic whistling as its saving factor. And one could not forget Björk’s Medúlla, almost entirely a cappella and composed with human vocals as ‘instrumentation’.

The new strats to garner popularity are being effective and definitely appealing, but the problem comes in when everyone else does it and overplays it. Nelly Furtado was brought back to the charts with Loose in 2006, after Timbaland fastened the tempo in her sound (and when everything he touched turned to gold). After Loose and his own debut the following year, every production of his became expected and pretty much a less of a punch (Think the unimaginative and exhausted production of Madonna’s Hard Candy), in comparison to the shimmer he gave to the aforementioned bodies of work. Danja was mostly unknown in 2006 and had contributed in tracks for Loose, in an attempt of striking the iron while it was still hot, he hopped in to work with Britney Spears and gave the pop genre a darker electronic twist (resulting in Blackout); in no time everyone else was emulating the sound, thus ruining the brilliance and novelty in Spears’ work by overplaying the style, not to say what could’ve been properly a new landmark in pop music.

Whistling in melodic compositions were introduced approximately in the 1920’s, prominently used by Ronnie Ronalde and Fred Lowry, both British music hall singers. Let’s hope the innovative use of vocal modulations by these two musical pionneers doesn’t go down the drain in disposable pop songs in the coming future.

Creative strategies are always on the roll, it depends on how much producers and pseudo-artists are willing to sacrifice the sake of musical art, in order to achieve a momentaneous hit. Musical innovations should be treated in small doses, so they can be truly appreciated.

C.Perez