Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Long live the Diva Ballad!

No matter how things change,some forms of art still persist and reinvent themselves over time,showing back up when and where you least expect them. In music,that happens frequently and one of the best examples of The Song That Won't Die is what I like to call the Diva Ballad.

Diva Ballads are not just slow songs by singers with big voices,they're tender medleys performed by those who are seen as only glammed up stage presences. Their true vocal talents are revealed by these tunes that strip away some of the glitz and glitter to bare open the driving emotional forces that made he or she the person they truly are,on and off stage.

Adam Lambert's new release from his For Your Entertainment album is called "What Do You Want From Me?" and it's the best of the bunch,if you ask me. Most people will tend to think his whole playlist is as raunchy as the title song infamously performed at the AMAs but they'd change their tune pretty fast after a good listen to this heartfelt plead for love and acceptance:

As a compare and contrast,take a listen to Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors",which is a tad milder in tone but shares a similar yearning for looking beyond the outer surface of a person and seeing their inner worth:

Even more over the top than Lambert is Lady Gaga,whose wild costumes and bizarre stage antics are accessories to her real voice as an artist. I first thought she was just a flash in the pan on the pop scene until I saw and heard her play the piano for "Speechless",a song inspired by an accident that left her father hospitalized with a wired jaw. Granted,it doesn't sound like something you'd sing to your dad but the sentiments are in the right place:

In an odd way(rather fitting when talking about Lady Gaga),that song puts me in mind of "I'll Stand By You" from The Pretenders. Chrissie Hynde has that motorcycle mama vibe about her and yet she's incredibly eloquent in this melodic pledge to stay true to whoever is the loved one in question here:

Even the beautiful trainwreck that is Amy Winehouse made her diva bones with more than just her catchy tributes to rehab, gin and bad girls.

"Back to Black" evokes the old school sorrows of female singers who mourned their broken hearts in front of the mike and paid the piper in more ways than one with their bittersweet performances:

Granted,it's too soon to say that she is in the same league but Shirley Bassey's "I Who Have Nothing"(made fashionable a couple of American Idol seasons ago)does play in the same emotional ballpark there. Bassey has had her own portion of personal traumas to deal with but unlike Winehouse,didn't let them interfere with her work. Not passing judgement here,folks-just making an observation. Shirley Bassey is still with us and my hopes are that Amy Winehouse will be,too,for a long time to come:

Diva Ballads are a time honored tradition that can and should be appreciated as soon they lift up their heads and sing their hearts out. Remember,folks,that they can strike without warning and come from the most unlikely people in the least appropriate moments,public and private. Yet,without them,the world would be a truly heartless haven for those yearning to express what they can not say to others but need to,oh so much:

1 comment:

Ladytink_534 said...

Great picks! I enjoy all of these songs.