This article originally appeared on Noisey Germany.
We don’t have to explain what The Fifth Element is, right? Odds are you’ve seen this film, even if you were nothing but a wink in the eye of a sailor at the premiere of the 1997 blockbuster. So we’ll get straight to the point without boring you with a summary of the plot of giving up any spoilers: The singing blue alien opera singer kills it.
The story behind the scene goes that in order to capitalize on dramatic effect, both viewers and performers in the film were unable to catch a glimpse of the singing blue alien until the scene was actually shot. They were blown away when she took to the stage—because not only was her appearance superhuman, her voice was, too. Literally.
As Eric Serra, the composer of the film, explained during an interview that the soprano they’d hired to record the song, Inva Mula, was supposed to have smiled when Serra showed her the notes for the Diva Dance. Instead, Mula told him that it wasn’t humanly possibly to hit some of the notes, because a human voice couldn’t change so quickly between them.
This limitation can be explained like this: Imagine telling a pianist they’d have to play with only one of their hands, and they’d have to switch between the highest and lowest notes in the blink of an eye. The distance between the two keys makes it impossible to alternate between the two so quickly, and the same rule applies to human vocal chords. At higher tones, they expand and become long and thin; at deeper ones, they become short and thicker. But in order to successfully change between long and thin to short and thick, you’d need a lot more time than Serra had allowed for with his composition.
In order to record the song for the film, Mula had to sing the notes individually, at which point they were digitally combined into one track. The Chinese singer Jane Zhang, however, has done the impossible. She’s considered one of the biggest pop stars in China, has already been featured on Oprah, and it’s easy to see why in the video below. It doesn’t matter that Zhang’s performance was recorded five months ago, because it’s worth seeing and hearing. From the 3:15 mark, it’s nothing but goosebumps and the level of anticipation that rivals a bottle of champagne that’s dangerously close to exploding.
Translated by Meredith Balkus.
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