Christina Aguilera: Star Spangled Style Over Substance

I’m aware that I’m not the only one commenting on the vocal fireworks display put on by Ms. Aguilera at the Super Bowl that ultimately was an equally shining example of style over substance.

Known for her supernatural singing talent and incredible feats of vocal ability, she has perfected melismatic singing (which is the style of singing that so many R&B singers employ – and almost every American Idol wanna be, which is the singing of multiple notes over one syllable). Most people would consider it just “runs” but in fact the style is called melisma  – or what I call it – oversinging.

Not a huge fan of the technique – especially when it’s sooooo overused in pop and R&B – think Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, etc. The trend of  employing melisma by mostly R&B singers emerged with the 1990 release of Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” – which was resplendent in multi-octave runs that dazzled listeners and critics both. I’ve always liked the song – here it is for those who don’t know:

Mariah Carey – Vision of Love

But getting back to the point of this post. Although Ms. Aquilera has sung the anthem countless numbers of times over her career and despite the fact that the Star Spangled Banner is considered one of the hardest songs to sing (lyrically, sonically and performance-wise – which is typically in a large echo-ey stadium/arena) – she so over-delivered on the style while flubbing the essence of the song’s meaning – which is predicated on the lyrics. Had she been trying out during Hollywood Week on Idol (where the standing rule is “don’t forget the words)  – Christina Aguilera move have been kicked-off.

I’m not a die-hard patriot who holds the anthem sacred but it irks me that she’s being paid to deliver the song and what she provided was a wrenchingly over-sung version that transformed the song into a melodically unrecognizable series of vocal runs stitched together into one auditory splurge of sound that was – in the end – sung incorrectly.

A teachable moment… get the basics down first before you try to impress and add your own flourishes. I’m all for originality and bringing one’s own style to anything/everything one does but not at the cost of f**king-up the words.

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Five Kid Friendly Sports Movies

Here’s a short but sweet list of some sports flicks that I’ve seen with my nine year old that are both entertaining for the two of us while also providing a boat-load of positive messaging around hard-work, commitment, team work and all around good sportsmanship. I know there are a ton others out there but here are the five that we’ve seen most recently. If you’ve got any suggestions to add to the list, please submit.

 

Rudy – just saw this again for maybe the 5th time with my son. Despite a few cuss words here and there – it’s a straight-out true story no-brainer for a young kid.  I still get a bit teary-eyed at the end when they carry the young Samwise Gamgee off the field – which is BTW, the last time anyone has ever been carried off the field at Notre Dame.

Express – great entry point for the discussion of racism. The true story of Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. Nice historical view of early ’60s college ball.  and the determination it took for Davis to withstand the hostility, threats and ignorance that ruled the day. Dennis Quaid does a pretty good job as Coach Ben Schwartzwalder of Syracuse University who recruited Davis amid a lot of resistance from his peers and associates.

 

Hoosiers – love, love, love this movie. Always been a big Gene Hackman fan and Barbara Hershey is down-home beautiful in this movie (which is nice to see given her recent performance in Black Swan!). Totally inspiring story of the underdog triumphing through sheer will and determination. Great period piece capturing the spirit of 1950’s era mid-west basketball.

Blind Side – given Sandra Bullock’s Academy Award most everyone has heard of or seen this picture, which is based on Michael Lewis’ book about the true story of Michael Oher, who was a poor, over-sized and under-educated teenager, taken in by a upper middle class family and is supported, encouraged and academically and physically trained to play college-level football and eventually becomes the first-round pick for the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL draft. Another A+ sports movie with strong messaging.

Miracle – Kurt Russell takes on the role of Herb Brooks, the coach for the 1980 US Olympic hockey team that went on and per the namesake of the movie, seemingly miraculously beat the unbeatable Russian team for the gold. Tons of great hockey action and pretty good capture of Coach Brooks’ highly unconventional, intense but effective training style and methods.