So there I was, in my car, on a Saturday afternoon, heading to a rehearsal for a play called “Rabbit Hole” that I am stage managing for and this song comes on that causes me to suffer a mild migraine (as if those ever come in the mild form).
Now the song started off nice and simple with the first voice doing his “speak/sing” style, which is somewhat acceptable, even though it wasn’t doing the song any favors. Then it happened, enter the second voice, a woman, and she began to wail and scream and riff in inappropriate places and one could not understand a word she was singing, but her voice was distinct enough that I knew the offender right off the bat. I know some people will call me sacrilegious for this but it needs to be said
ARETHA FRANKLIN NEEDS TO STOP SINGING!!
Phew there I said it.
She butchered her way through what was already a mediocre song that was initially done beautifully by James Ingram and Patti Austin. How Do You Keep The Music Playing is a nice lovely song that you hear at weddings, “Back in Times” parties, your parents’ house parties and occasionally on some Sunday night radio program. You must be familiar these Sunday night radio programs. They are the ones where at the announcers suddenly slow their speech patterns and lower their voices (vocal register) to give the impression that they are sexy but since English well standard English is not their native tongue, they just sound retarded. And don’t get me started on the callers to their programs:
“Hello GUHNITE! Ah just wanta say that I is guilty of loving meh man, Biscuit!”
“Can you play dah Whitney song I will always love you for him…?”
“Maam you know dat song is about losing someone “
“Nah daz me and meh man SONG!! We make Kai-esha to dah one!
“Oh ok, I’ll play it for you and Biscuit!”
Sigh..sorry I went off on a tangent there. Let me get back to my rant.
Where was I?…….Oh.
Offending Song: How Do You Keep The Music Playing?
Offending Singer – Aretha Franklin
Now I know there are some diehard Aretha fans out there but this lady has not changed her singing style since Ronald Reagan was in office. It’s the same breathy wailing, screaming nonsense that she has carried on with for years. It isn’t getting better and I cringe EVERYTIME I hear her.
I have one of her Greatest Hits Album (seen here) and it is filled with some sweet sweet music and it was reminiscent of a time when she actually took instruction from the producers and she made some beautiful arrangements that did her blessed vocal cords absolute justice.
Angel, Giving Him Something He Can Feel, Until You Come Back To Me , You’re All I Need To Get By, and Love All The Hurt Away just to name a few. She sings those like buttah and you appreciate the power and CLARITY of her voice and the emotions she conveys with every note.
Cut to 2011, and her voice has become that of cats in heat. Loud , annoying and never–ending. What happened?.
The clearest moment to me when I knew that this lady should stop singing or actually employ a vocal coach to help her steer her amazing voice in a different direction was in 1998 at the Grammy Awards when she butchered “Nessum Dorma” and the whole world seemed to cheer that she took on the song…..blah blah blah blah… It was awful!!!
She has sung at hundreds of functions since then, including at Obama’s inauguration in 2009, but I refused to even listen to her sing then and there hasn’t been any desire to even youtube it. Sigh….For such an amazing voice, why is it she thinks that there is nothing else to learn? Her treatment of music these days is tantamount to me trying to cooking a gourmet meal (messy, awkward and it is not going to be well presented).
If I am to try and understand what is going on, I would say that in her being given the WELL DESERVED title The QUEEN OF SOUL she has let her creativity slip into an area where people should be appreciative that she has sung in their presence or walked into a room. In this day and age, every royal person should know that continued respect is earned and ruling by fear doesn’t work anymore.
There will be no one as wonderful as her in terms of music but slowly her presence and stature is being diminished with mediocre performances that leave the new generation of music wondering what the hell were these older folks listening to back then.
While Aretha will never be forgotten in history, I still need her to show this musical generation that lip syncs, dances, and auto tunes almost every song the sing that there is a reason she was given the title and that no one alive today could even come close to removing the crown.
Oh And the Duets II album isn’t bad at all. There are some collaborations that are really nice. Among them the ones with Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, John Mayer, Mariah Carey (Amazing! Almost didn’t recognise her voice coming to the end of the song) and Sheryl Crow to name a few.
It’s not a must have but it doesn’t hurt to include it in your musical collection.