Bad Singing As Good

If there are no standards and everyone is equally good at everything then where are we? If holding standards makes you a snob, and having an education makes you an elitist, and speaking up about standards makes you a boor, where are we?

I recently heard a version of “O Holy Night” from 2013 by Patti Smith. It was, in every possible way, horrid.

Don’t get me wrong, Patti Smith is great at what she does and she has a powerful career behind her but this rendition of the song was unmitigatingly awful. She was attempting this with a classical orchestra. Surely, there were coaches to help her that should have stopped this embarrassment, but there she was anyway. My question is “WHY?” [See paragraph one.]

Artists have a right to do whatever they do however they do it. That is what artistic license is supposed to be. But, if we, as artists supposedly with some kind of expertise, allow people to do whatever they want when they get famous at something, just to show how “open minded” or “flexible” we are, is that valid?

Things being what they are in the music business at the moment, fame supersedes everything else. If you somehow manage to be a “CELEBRITY” you are given permission to do things because as you do, you will generate  M O N E Y for the promoters or the producers or someone somewhere and that is the end of the discussion.

Years ago I saw Joe Namath in a production of “Damn Yankees” at the old Jones Beach Summer Theater. The production starred Donald O’Connor as “Mr. Applegate” and Joe as the romantic lead, Joe Hardy. By then, Namath could hardly walk, his knees were so shot, let alone dance, and sing……well, I won’t say but you can imagine. Why was he cast? Because he was just out of football as one of the most successful players of all time and he was bankable. Poor Donald O’Connor, a supremely talented and experienced man, dealing with Broadway Joe as an equal!

I saw Rosie O’Donnell as Rizzo in Grease on Broadway. She didn’t dance, she moved her arms standing stock still. She couldn’t sing (by her own admission), but there she was. I saw Melanie Griffith in Chicago. She was a good actress, but she couldn’t dance or sing at all.  The list is long and growing. OK. Not going to go away.

The point is that the singers involved have to have enough self-knowledge, humility and decency to admit they have limits and that the music has integrity of its own that has to be respected. As long as  people don’t know and don’t know they don’t know and don’t bother to investigate, and those same people are in charge of presenting ill-informed and poorly prepared artists to the public, things can only go downhill. That’s bad, since we are already in a trough.

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One thought on “Bad Singing As Good”

  1. After last night’s debacle at the Rockefeller Center, you can add Mariah Carey to that list. Her problem was any combination of illness, mental fatigue/stress, or just simply bad technique. In that case, when you are an artist of a certain level, you’d better perform at that level, or you just draw ridicule.

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