Sunday, February 08, 2009

Etta James can say anything she wants to about Bey*nce. That's fine. Even if it's not quite nice or merited or whatever--fine. Especially about "At Last," because she is right--the way that people sing that song now is a variation on James' own version of it, not the song itself. It's like the "House Is Not a Home"/Luther phenom--now when people sing it, they are singing his version, which is I guess really half his and half Warwick's*, but still, he doesn't usually get the credit.

Plus, I don't really care how cookie-cutter, pro-forma, cultural grouchy pants this sounds, but bloody hell...ETTA JAMES ACTUALLY SINGS. She broke the singing ground in question. She sings with more real rebellion, sass, sex, fuck-you, raw pain, humor, personality, verve, talent, vocal agility,, I don't know now to say it in a way that's convincing. It just sounds stuffy. The more intense rokkritik adjectives you throw at it, the more meaningless the whole thing sounds. But if nothing else...for every second of attention James is getting now we've been forced to cough up hours of attention on, er, the other, and why is that always how it works? so fine. She deserves the attention. Plus, James is really funny. She's already apologized in a funny way, but I honestly wouldn't care if she chose to put her in her place even more. Plus? I have a little fat-girl anger for James in the mix about this, and that's fine. She is the one who got put on TV wearing hip-length wool sweaters over her dresses in the 60s even as she put her stamp all over American music...

(*Worth watching? Luther's version sung to Dionne Warwick at the NAACP Image Awards in 1980-something, laying it at her feet as Dionne accepts it in a NE PLUS ULTRA queen-bee gracious and completely fierce/ferocious fashion with demure little smiles and tears and hands in the's a performance. I've mentioned this link before, but it really is cool. Total tableau of gay cultural obesiance. Plus it is exciting to see his version as it begins blow up.)

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