Best movie ever!!!!
"Oh Happy Day" is not an original song from the movie, OF COURSE. Although I can't find the original source. But it is a famous gospel piece.
Well the movie version rocks the most, because it is full-on gospel. This part of the movie comes when the Academy of the Sacred Heart (or something), a once run-down Catholic school with a terrible music program, sings in public for the first time under the choral direction of Whoopi Goldberg ... er ... Sister Mary Clarence. SAME DIFFERENCE!!! The point is, Whoopi gets the choir of teenage hoodlums to sing like ... adults ...? Luckily, Whoopi doesn't sing on this track. Though the star of the movie, her voice is somewhat lacking. Let's not forget that a young Lauryn Hill and Jennifer Love Hewitt appear in this movie!
The song begins with a vamp on the piano (the only accompaniment). Ahmal comes in hesitantly, complete with squeaks and a lack of enthusiasm. Come on Ahmal!!! Sing like we know you can! The choir also sucks. Oh happy day ... :( Whoopi encourages him by having the choir sing one of their (useless) vocalises. Surprisingly, it fits the piano's modulation. Suddenly, Ahmal sounds like he's been recorded in the studio. He's amazing, and he's got soul! Whoopi still sucks, though. Some more bad vocalises (the "Lah" syllable isn't the best to warm up on) and then the entire choir has got soul! The song modulates some more, and Ahmal rocks out. At one point, he busts out a high D# in falsetto, an amazing feat. The choir then "brings it down," and finishes with a full gospel chord. There's clapping at some point too.
The song is very repetitive, and relies on embellishment from the soloist to keep it exciting. It's basically modified strophic, with only the lyrics changing.
The moral of the story is, teach a lousy choir some lame vocalises, and they'll sing like this.