Saturday, January 23, 2010

Helping Haiti

Last night, the "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon aired. It was amazing to see the list of people who came out to support the efforts put together by George Clooney and the execs at MTV. But some of the musical acts were lackluster and song choices depressing to say the least. I was disappointed. We all know that this tragedy is overwhelmingly sad, but as an audience, we needed to be uplifted. You want our support? Ignite us to give, don't drag us down.

There were a few stand out performances though. (Sadly, I can't embed all the videos because they play automatically. Please follow the links.)

Mary J. Blige was as composed and elegant as she always is. This is what a true diva looks and acts like. Her rendition of "Hard Times Come Again No More" showed her strength both as a singer and performer. Never overstated, but most definitely having the presence needed.

Jennifer Hudson also sang with as much gusto and prowess on the Beatles "Let it Be". It's a shame these two women have yet to perform together. That would be an amazing collaboration.

John Legend's "A Motherless Child" was beautifully scored with a string quartet supporting his haunting voice and delicate piano playing. Its wonderful to see that someone as busy as John (who is currently in the middle of a tour) take time out to do his part.

Christina Aguilera, with her trademark red lipstick and platinum blond hair, was vocally at the top of her game. The girl has vocal chords of steel. Her new ballad "Life Me Up" was a beautiful choice for the evening.

Does Sting ever age? It's kinda creepy. Thankfully, his voice isn't aging either. He sounds just as good as he did thirty years ago. His "Driven to Tears" was one of the few upbeat and musically interesting pieces of the night, that send a very strong message that we all need to heed.

And a few quick notes on what I believed to be some seriously poor choices:

Beyonce? What the hell were you thinking singing "Halo"? Hundreds of thousands of people DIED. We've all heard that song a million times over. You couldn't have found someone else's song to sing for once? That was a huge disappointment. HUGE.

Bruce Springsteen, I love you, really I do. But please don't ever sing that song again. Or any word that has the syllable "er" in it. I had to turn you off it was that bad.

Madonna, what were you wearing? You've always been on the cutting edge of fashion. Tonight? Not so much. And the vocals sounded truly forced. Thank god you had that chorus behind you. They saved it.

And most depressing song of the evening goes to my favorite artist, Dave Matthews. Along with Neil Young, he sang Hank Williams' utterly sad ballad "Alone and Forsaken". Hate the song choice, love the collaboration.

One of the most beautiful performance of the night though, surprisingly came from Justin Timberlake and his protege Matt Morris singing the Leonard Cohen classic "Hallelujah". This is where we see Justin at his best; quiet, subdued, emoting behind the piano. We see the performer that many have forgotten about due to his widely loved sex/pop appeal. The performance is beautiful to watch and listen to. This one deserves to be seen.

And on a personal note:
One of my dear friends from college, Jamie, lives in Port-au-Prince. The school where she was teaching is taking donations online through Paypal. See their website for more details. Her parents also have a mission there and are taking donations by check through the mail. If you'd like to support them, please contact me for information.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

RIP Teddy

I woke up this morning to find the news that Teddy Pendergrass has died. It's a sad day, not just for music but for the world in general. He was a talented (and did I mention sexy?) man who was also a great role model after suffering a paralyzing spinal cord injury. He kept singing and recording, and started a charitable fund to help others with the same circumstances.

While this video only has one picture, it's easy to see why he had such a strong pull as a performer. His voice is pure sex and the girls are constantly screaming from ecstasy.

What many people of my generation don't realize is that If You Don't Know Me By Now, made popular by Simply Red in the 80's, was actually first released by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, where Teddy was the lead singer. Take a look at this flashback from an old episode of Soul Train.

Man, I miss the Soul Train. Here they are again with Wake Up, Everybody.

Teddy also did collaborative work with amazing women. Here he is with Stephanie Mills in Two Hearts.

Before she became a legend (and tabloid train wreck), Whitney Houston also sang with Teddy. Hold Me from Whitney's first self-titled album.

RIP Teddy. You will be missed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Death of Pop

I'm seriously in shock.

This article claims that "rookie pop singer Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" shifted 610,000 digital tracks for the week ending December 27, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's the highest weekly sum by a female artist since tracking began in 2003, and the second-best overall after Flo Rida's "Right Round" sold 636,000 this past February. Coincidentally, Ke$ha was an uncredited singer on the track."

Is this some bad joke? The girl barely sings. I will admit that the chorus is slightly catchy, but it sounds like a bunch of other choruses that I've heard before. There's no originality and no talent. How did Gaga get beat by this little blond nothing?

Someone please explain. I'm seriously at a loss for words.