an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

Two false notes as Katherine Jenkins strives to save the Queen

The Welsh Nightingale, fresh from her American stumbles, got to open the Epsom Derby with the national anthem.

She had pitch problems, to my ears, on victorious and glorious and managed four notes in one on the final top queen. No matter. She’s been booked for the Olympics. Hear for yourselves.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. richard carlisle says:

    Can anyone name ANYTHING she has sung without flaws– I’d like to hear something without a disappointing flub (either in pitch OR tone fluctuation)… I gave up after a few tries, have to rank her a half notch above Charlotte Church in voice, although terrific on her feet.

  2. Maybe if she were dressed for the weather, her voice might not have been trembling so much.

    • richard carlisle says:

      Was she counting on visual quality compensating for lack of same regarding vocal?

  3. Serves them right

    You get what you pay for

  4. From the performance I think it would have been about £1

  5. Emil Archambault says:

    Oh, come on, she has a right to sing.

    As long as she calls herself a crossover singer, and not an operatic mezzo.

    You may hate crossover, but that genre has a right to exist, and she has a right to sing it. God Save the Queen is not an opera aria.

    • That’s interesting – “a right to sing”. Any genre of singing depends on basic technique, unless “crossover” is supposed to mean an excuse for the lack of it and compensated by flashy visuals. “God Save the Queen”, however, existed way before “crossover” and doesn’t belong in that category.

    • Everyone has a right to sing. It doesn’t matter if it’s an aria, good intonation isn’t a style hallmark.

      • Anyone might have a right to sing, but the question is more rather why should we be forced to listen to it? Who actually chose KJ and why wasn’t her costume subject to some control?

    • Emil Archambault says:

      What I mean is that some people here seem to have a visceral hatred of KJ and find pleasure in unearthing all her minor flaws. If we all agree she is not an opera singer, it seems to me the discussion is over, and that there is no need to keep on bringing her up. If we agree she is not an opera singer, she has no business on a classical music blog (except related to her marketing as a ‘classical singe’, which is not the issue here).

      No other singer suffers this much scrutiny. N. Lebrecht would not have criticized a pop singer for “glorious” and “victorious”. Probably not even a real opera singer would have been worthy of a blog entry for such trifles.

      Would there have been that much uproar over her dress if it had been worn by another singer, classical or not? I doubt it.

      Some people, not content with kicking KJ out of the classical music world (very rightly so), seem to be on a vendetta against her and are not able to recognize any kind of music apart from classical music. Jenkins has no business singing Rossini, Verdi or Bizet. However, God Save The Queen has been sung by pop artists, rockers, crossover artists…and also opera singers. Why denounce only Jenkins? If your problem is with the poor singing of God Save The Queen, there are many cases you should bring up before hers.

      She’s not my type of singer. Her arias are not even worthy of consideration. God Save The Queen could have been better sung. But honestly, it was not as bad as some (including Mr. Lebrecht) make it seem.

      • richard carlisle says:

        My resentment is anchored in the fact if I were to hire someone to sing for a wedding reception I would expect better pitch control than hers; she is so extreme in her put-on of classical aria performance abiliy when she can’t even qualify for “pop” …perhaps her critics are offended because of the void between what she pretends to be and what she is… I for one cannot listen through anything she’s ever done.

        As a person she is delightful and with her fame she could switch to some other form of show business and do everyone a great favor… just avoid singing …hasn’t she had her chance and failed sufficiently for a sufficient time frame?

  6. Stuart Green says:

    From her comment Clair Balding must be tone deaf.

  7. Peter Freeman says:

    Small mercies: The Sky reprise I just tuned into referred to the steam loco as Prince Elizabeth, and to its whistle as a horn.

  8. RichardB says:

    In the words of another (and greater) singing Jenkins, the deathless Florence Foster J, “People may say that I did not sing well. But they can never say that I did not sing”.

  9. As if the voice wasn’t awful enough, did no one give her advice on proper dress for the occasion? Even had this been an evening event, her gown was on the edge of appropriateness, but for a daytime, this was all wrong. Makes me wonder how much Super Glue she employed to keep it in place!

  10. She wants to show in every decolletage inch of the dress she can manage without embarrassment that she is a lady who sings – she barely makes it on either count without invoking some laughter . Didn’t some one advise her you don’t dress this way when attending a horse race . Reminded me of a hilarious long ago movie in which Louis of France came to court dressed as a chicken .

    • ALICE CHUTE says:

      Airel, that movie was called “Start the revolution without me” and Louis went around the ball telling everyone he met that he had been told it was a costume party.

  11. “Katherine Jenkins hitting all the right notes….”

    Is it permitted to write “LMAO” in a comment on this blog? Ms. Jenkins would have gotten more publicity if she had sung in a wet white T shirt and bikini bottoms (especially considering the obviously cold and windy weather). Why bother with a dress that makes her look like Morticia from “The Munsters?”

    Katherine also obviously got her knickers bunched up when hitting that last wobbling high note, which one of the old biddies in HM’s entourage could have done just as well at their age of 80+

    I am SO tuning this royal baloney out today.

    Thank god for the French Open! Vive la republique! Allons enfants de la patrie……

  12. Reggie Benstein says:

    I think this video says less about Ms Jenkins and more about Britain taking the louche route.

    The Queen’s Jubilee should have been the epitome of class. Clearly, however, the bar has been lowered, perhaps permanently. I suppose this will set everyone up for the tastes of the incoming royal generation. Inauguration Coldplay, anyone ?

    • Talking of he louche route – somewhat more dismaying than the singing was surely seeing swathes of people rudely remaining seated while the National Anthem was playing!

  13. mark winn says:

    i’ve heard more ‘in tune’ rugby second row forwards……….truly appaling…….

  14. These comments are sickeningly mean-spirited. Did this woman threaten your family? Did she kill one of your best friends?

    As an aside, parsing each note that is sung by every singer(opera, crossover, or pop) is why many people hate to go to performances. The snarky, mean, and cynical attitude of people who criticize every note and seem to enjoy bashing performers more than enjoying the music create a pall on the music world that must be lifted. All of the snark and cynicism affects more than just the performance you are gleefully picking apart.
    Performers don’t take risks because they are worried about being criticized for missing a note, and then audiences who rip musicians who miss once in a while claim that they are bored with risk averse musicians. They claim that artists of the past were just as technically proficient and yet were artists at the same time. Listen to Heifetz, who misses notes all the time. Oistrakh, who badly botches many notes in one of the most famous performances of all time(Shostakovich Violin Concerto Cadenza). Fischer-Dieskau, in the famous video of Ich Bin Der Welt Abhanden Gekommen does not sing perfectly. All of these performances are near the pinnacle of their art, and they are by no means “perfect,” technically, whatever that means.
    Of course, I don’t mean to compare these great artists to Ms. Jenkins, but realize that every time people spend hours and words parsing one note at “0:32-0:33,” musicians of all stripes shudder.

    • Reggie Benstein says:

      Waldo, I think the point of this discussion is that there are more, many more, deserving artists that could have sung God Save the Queen for an event as important as a Jubilee. There are finer singers that have not had the luxury of main-stream publicity as Ms Jenkins has either.

      There should be room to criticize the choice and to criticize the choice of dress without insinuating that Ms Jenkins is a mass murderer at the same time.

      And I’d be interested to hear an example of Heifetz missing notes, if you have one to share.

      • Well said Reggie

        For Waldo to compare soloists like Oistrakh, Heifitz & Fischer-Dieskau ti Miss Jenkins is I’m afraid like compairing a Rolls Royce to a Lada

        • “Of course, I don’t mean to compare these great artists to Ms. Jenkins.”

          I don’t mean to be rude, but please read my whole post before commenting inaccurately on it. I did NOT compare those three to Jenkins.

          • No, but you made wild allegations about Heifetz. We made precise ones about Ms Jenkins. The reason for doing so is that she persists in having herself falsely described by her PRs as an opera singer. Were she to cease doing so, she would be of no further interest to the writers and readers of this blogsite.

          • Reggie Benstein says:

            Waldo, you may not be comparing Jenkins to Heifetz, but you ARE making a comparison of Jenkins hitting a bad note with Heifetz hitting a bad note (theoretically) which is equally as ridiculous.

      • Hi Reggie,

        I’m not saying Ms. Jenkins is a genius, and yes, I’m sure there are many better singers who would be incredibly deserving of this chance. But it seems to me that those on this blog and other places seem to take great pleasure in insinuating Ms. Jenkins is a terrible person, a singer worthy of Florence Foster Jenkins, and a prostitute.

        I might have overstated about Heifetz “missing” notes :) but…he does play sloppily at times. If you listen to his Tchaikovsky Concerto Recording he plays the obnoxiously difficult Auer edition, and he certainly flubs some of it, though I can’t imagine anyone but Superman wouldn’t. I also heard a great story from Itzhak Perlman about listening to a recording of the Glazunov concerto by Heifetz. He was listening to the recording for the hundredth time when he suddenly became suspicious about a run of thirds during the concerto. He decided to slow the recording down, and lo and behold, Heiftez COMPLETELY missed it. But Heifetz played the run with such bravura and intensity that an ear as fine-tuned as Perlman didn’t hear it for many years. His point was, “miss, but with bravura!” I think it’s a brilliant lesson, and one that musicians should say to themselves every time as they walk out on stage.

    • richard carlisle says:

      @ Waldo:

      Can you name one performance that she completed without a flagrant error… I’ve been longing to hear one, so far no luck.

      • This is the first time I’ve ever heard her sing. I don’t think she’s anything to write home about, but as I’ve said above, I don’t think she’s a prostitute war criminal either. Do other people deserve the chance? Of course, but that’s not the point of my post! My post has nothing to do with Ms. Jenkins herself, it’s more to do with the general tone of criticism here and other places, and it’s negative effects on musicians, and by extension, the music.

        • richard carlisle says:

          @Waldo:

          OK then, try some of her other youtube performances and you’ll understand our level of exasperation… it’s a wonder her singing has been accepted by enough of the public to get her where she is; or that so many people are tone insensitive and count looks above sound.

  15. @Norman

    I understand your point, but again, I really couldn’t care less about Ms. Jenkins herself. The point is the nitpicky culture of gleefully listening to hear if someone misses one note or wobbles for a moment on a high c is pervasive across the musical world, and I find it incredibly frustrating. My point was a larger one than about a crossover singer who isn’t a spectacular musician.

    Re: Heifetz. He is one of my favorite violinists, but to say I made wild allegations is a little silly, don’t you think? He does miss notes, more frequently than he’s given credit for. I related a story below about Perlman realizing this himself. I’m not going to get into a debate over whether Heifetz missed notes or not. Again, my point is broader than about one musician, it is about the the comments here that are snarky and mean-spirited.

  16. I do believe what colours all the criticism is the dress she wore to the event- she certainly wanted us to
    know way way up front what an unusual dress it was , most of the notes were fine with no fall out -never the less
    the dress was in thoughtless taste for a horse race ,it might have caused them to bolt , as for Heifetz and the rest
    however uplifting the case none of them would ever have worn comparable outfit to a horse race… I hope .

  17. mark winn says:

    Look….she isn’t a real singer, merely a product of the sad times in which we live where mediocrity (such as a performing dog) is held up by the media as something to aspire to, whereas the Young Musician of the Year is virtually ignored by the very organisation running the show. No, the REAL villains of the piece are those who manipulate and manufacture vast swathes of public ‘opinion/perception’ as to bypass what is fine musicianship, as opposed to the crap that they promote…..THEY are the people who should be held to account…….

    • Stuart Green says:

      Absolutely right,well said. What is wrong with Britain when a dancing dog wins 1/2 million pounds,sad,so no wonder KJ gets as far as she has in the entertainment/music business.

  18. @Reggie

    Of course I know it’s a ridiculous comparison, that’s why I didn’t make it!! The point I made about the tone of the comments towards Ms. Jenkins and the point I made about risk-taking musicians were meant to be separate points. Unfortunately, they have been conflated together. The first point is, regardless of whether or not X musician is anywhere near to the musician Heifetz was; does that make it perfectly fine for you(not you, Reggie, the proverbial you) to hear a performance of X and compare him/her to a prostitute and parse every single note he/she plays? I guess it’s your right to do that, but I also have a right to not like it and call out the tone that you use.

    The second point(and it’s only related because of the tone argument) is that criticisms that are so pointed, rude, mean spirited, and targeted, only make musicians retreat farther into their shells, making sure that they don’t take any risks for fear of wobbling on the high c, or missing a run of octaves in the Sibelius Violin Concerto.
    Again, since the message seems to have not gone through. I am NOT comparing anyone to anyone. I was simply using examples of risk-taking musicians of the past who are lionized now who also made mistakes when they played. The points were completely separate from each other, and if I wrote that inartfully or unclearly, I apologize.

    • Apology accepted, wherever you are Waldo. I’m being snarky because I can’t believe that HM picked out Jenkins to sing the anthem when there are so many others more deserving of the honor – Susan Boyle or Andrea Bocelli, e.g.

      It’s not that “…this woman threated my family? Did she kill one of my best friends.” Rather, it’s a question of her threatening good taste in classical music and killing most of my favorite mezzo arias.

      Why isn’t she as smart as Janet Jackson? She could have had a magnificent “wardrobe malfunction” in that dress in front of the whole world! The fame! The added PR! All gone….all lost….

      “We are bits of stellar matter that got cold by accident, bits of a star gone wrong.”
      - Sir Arthur Eddington

    • “God Save the Queen” is not a difficult piece at all to sing, unlike virtuoso opera and jazz items. Therefore, a singer is expected to at least get the notes right and if he or she is an artist, do something special. There are plenty of excellent singers in the UK who could and should have done a much better job.

  19. TomV – don’t think that bad taste or not, the dress was not a careful think through and the vision of a malfunction
    doesn’t cross every ones mind however “refined ” .For anyone to deny the thought however fleet would have to have been declared dead especially since the famous Jackson “accident” in which a horrified nation played
    the accident over and over and yet once more on all tvnews broadcasts to show what makes a nation rise
    up in moral indignation. I believe most comments of outrage came from patrons who frequented topless bars .
    Whatever your politics, submitting HM to the sounds made by Bocelli is unkind , give HM the day ,for whatever\it’s worth . I would not in this context have referred to the Sibelius Violin concerto but rather the Bruch which if I am correct begins with an open G string . Don’t think for one moment the world hasn’t noticed the dress.

    • My dainty Ariel,

      To wit, the reruns of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” all blurred out th’offending nipple, so no harm was done to the morality of the vast majority of Americans who frequent strip joints.

      No doubt the next step these crazy brave new world colonial drop-outs will take shall be to merge strip joints with Chuck E. Cheese’s, so the entire family can be entertained after attending church on Sundays.

      You know Americans; when they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a stripper or eat oversize portions of fatty food, not to mention a dead Indian.

      You’re right about Bocelli, though. That was a dumb suggestion, since he’s not a Brit. I should have suggested Sarah Brightman instead.

      I also withdraw my remark about the bunched-up knickers. In a dress as tight as that, Jenkins no doubt began with an open G string, as you so pertinently allude. Some kinds of baseness are nobly undergone.

      Thank God that after today we can say about the diamond jubilee:

      Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
      As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
      Are melted into air, into thin air:
      And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
      The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
      The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
      Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
      And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
      Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
      As dreams are made on; and our little life
      Is rounded with a sleep.

      Melted and dissolved by one of those damn North Atlantic low pressure systems that regularly relieve themselves upon the great realm of Albion.

      • The “vast majority of Americans” do not “frequent strip joints” and are more likely instead to help the unfortunate because of strong traditional values (church on Sunday!) that don’t make it to the big screen.
        Sorry to rain on your parade.

  20. Robert K. says:

    Meanwhile, last night on the Jubilee Concert, Renee Fleming sang from Madame Butterfly and she did not miss any notes.

    I notice, however, that while Jenkins and her off notes are promoted with a video and blog here, the real classical singer is not.

  21. True. It is perhaps more fun to critique than recognize real achievement.

    Still more than that, why was there only one classical singer? One cut aria? Perhaps we should be pleased there was any aria at all.

    Further, what does this say about the state of British classical singers that none was deemed to have enough stardom to appear at this event?

  22. There is no lack of good classical singers in this country.

    It is due to the ignorance and vapidness of those organising these extravaganzas

    • That was not my contention. Of course there are tremendous classical singers in the UK. My question regarded the requisite “star” level within the field to appear at an event like this. Who are the British classical singers most known internationally?

    • Robert K. says:

      No, it is partly our fault. Who are the classical singers being promoted today? Who do we see here? Jenkins. Evancho. Yet an authentic opera singer performed at one of the biggest concerts in the world and received no attention on this blog or for that matter others.

      • Renee Fleming’s appearance at the Royal concert was reported here some while back. She was mismatched with Alfie Boe.

        • Robert K. says:

          Very pleased to hear it! I’ve now seen the story announcing that she was a part of the line up, although no details were included. Thank you for the information.

          Her performance, of course, happened just last night during a major event. Is it likely that Jenkins’ appearance would not be posted here the day after, even though she was previously announced as part of the line-up? Or Evancho’s? I suspect both would be posted. I admit I may be incorrect in my assessment, but I feel fairly confident.

          This is not a particular criticism of any one person, but I suppose more of an observation about the classical media field and modern requirements.

  23. It just goes to show you much to “classical music lovers ” dismay how low “high ” art is held by general public,otherwise we’d have the likes of Beczala on display – rather than McCartney who looks more and more like someones’ granny to grand pa Jones with about 4 semi talking notes .Ms. Fleming was probably hired so the
    whole show wouldn’t look too low brow – then look what she sings at a festive brawl -like wearing sneakers at
    a formal dress occasion – a number totally out of place .She could have declined but I suppose ego rules the day .

  24. Tom v – For a start I ain’t nobodys’ dainty Ariel -not all TV’s blurred out the offending nipple . I suppose the
    Chuck E. Cheese observation can be equated with those who support the royal parasites and go weak when a royal parasite gives them a condescending glance . A real con job on a grand scale .
    I do know Americans and they are far kinder than my Upper Brook St. neighbours and believe it or not tend
    to eat as well if not better than the average or above average Brit .As humans they are more inclined to give
    the doit to a beggar than my neighbours, who would see to it that the beggar is gone post haste .
    I questioned Bocelli not on nationality but on lack of voice . I agree with you on” at last the revels are over”
    Celebrating a person who was forced after many years to at last pay taxes and one who wanted the nation
    to pay for fire damage to her house and whose cousins , sisters, aunts are on the dole , contrasting it to the
    American cousin puts one into the position
    of those who live in glass houses etc . otherwise it has been a great day and may HM outlive her mothers’ years or as the Poles who helped save England and then were betrayed would say “Sto lat “

  25. Wow! the sour grapes boys and girls are out in force, and must all belong to this blog’s club. Don’t you clowns know:

    “It is so much more productive to be for what you are for, and let others be for what they are for. It is counter-productive to be against. In fact, you just give more energy to that which you are against. My $ .02 worth. Take it or leave it.”
    – Wendy MacLoed Stokes

    So why don’t you just shut the hell up and go about your sour little lives without KJ in your ken.

    Btw you brits protest too much in your attempt to sound knowledgeable and classier than Katherine. Failed. And I can’t wait to see one of you on stage doing anything… let alone singing in front of the Queen at her specific invite.

    Katherine doesn’t care what you think. She’s laughing all the way to the bank.

    • Yes Addison says:

      Oh, yes. That highly original and ever-convincing argument — “You couldn’t do better, so you have no room to criticize.” (I remember reading this a lot when David Helfgott was getting a lot of hype from the movie “Shine,” and his messy recording of the Rachmaninoff 3 was selling well.) I always wonder if the person making the argument applies that logic to his or her daily life.

      “I took my car in for repairs and it isn’t running any better than before, but I don’t know the first thing about engines, so I’ll keep my trap shut.”

      “I ate at a new restaurant and the food was so bad that I couldn’t even finish my dish, but God knows I’m no chef; all I can make is spaghetti. The people in the kitchen surely know better than I.”

      “I keep going to this doctor and he doesn’t really listen to me, and I’m still sick after numerous visits, but hey, he graduated from med school; I never went for even one day!”

      There are people in all professions, even people successful by one standard or another, who always were or have become considerably less than great at what they do. That’s where judgment comes in.

  26. Oh dear what sad postings. I’m not clever enough or posh enough to reply in detail though I largely agree with KM and Waldorf. You see , despite the fact ive got a good degree from Durham and post graduate qualifications from Cambridge and Winchester, I must be stupid and have poor taste because I enjoy listening to both Katherine and
    Andre (Boccelli). No one has told me I shouldnt listsn to them to them or that they are ” bad” singers.Nor do I listen to them because of their reputation, good or bad. I happened to hear them I liked them so I listened again. And that’s surely one of the primary objectives of music to create and give pleasure. I like to sing , Katherine is much better than I so I listen to her, I will listen to anyone. I have a glass half full mentality, any music making is good and enjoyable. Sadly the main commentator has the attitude of moral and aesthetic superiority that I’ve come to dread in connection with areas of music ie the glass half empty wherein music is measured as being below a mythical perfection. And what’s sadder is most of those commentators can’t make music themselves . I can jam or improvise with my sax, though I’ve never had a lesson in my life. But I know people who are very knowledgeable about music but have no music in their soul. But the vitriol and the nastiness is unnecessary and unpleasant. I don’t lke Maria Callas…I know she is a “good opera singer” by whatever rule these critics live by…but I don’t like her, I don’t like many female Opera singers, they set my teeth on edge. I think there’s a certain amount of Moerors New Clothes syndrome amongst classical fans, and a age degree if snobbishness too. So I’m not really stupid, I’m not uneducated it’s just not to my taste like kidneys and quails eggs. The world is big enough for all this music but we don’t need more people being unkind, there are too many of those already.

    • Yes Addison says:

      I don’t know…in my opinion, there’s a big gulf between wanting “mythical perfection” and just pointing out fundamental things that are wrong.

      A lot of people who love opera don’t care for Maria Callas, as you don’t. I’ve never heard even the biggest Callas fan in the world claim she was mythically perfect — a lot of her contemporaries had more beautiful timbres, and as the career went on, she developed serious vocal problems, and even some people who love her will draw a line and say they won’t listen to her after a certain date. The first time I heard her, all I heard was the sound of the voice, and she didn’t do much for me either. I love her now, but it isn’t because I’ve changed my mind about her voice being beautiful. It’s because she was a great musical intelligence and a first-rate vocal actress. (And probably stage actress too, although sadly that was before my time and there is very little video evidence.)

      There’s a lot of disagreement even about the merits of people we all recognize as legitimate singers of opera and classical songs. There isn’t any one “set of rules these critics live by.” Well…I do have one. No one, in my opinion, has earned the right to be called an opera singer (or, for that matter, compared to people who are) without singing whole operatic roles. I’m aware that Bocelli actually has done it. Whether he’s done it well or not, this can be debated, but he’s put in some amount of the work to get through staged performances of Werther and Boheme, besides the crossover stuff that is his main channel.

  27. PS. I have very good pitch and can sing in tune, I am musically aware being brough up singing in a Choir, and basic lessons at school. I can recognise an out f tune singe and totally reje. He allegation tha Ms Jenkins I out of tune on every appearance…that’s just sheer nastiness. Finally, I could give a stuff what any singer wears.

    • richard carlisle says:

      Do YOU dress like that for YOUR performances?

      I wonder if whoever informed you of your perfect pitch would have an opinion of KJ’s pitch control… but are you saying KJ has perfect pitch or that it is simply nasty to identify it for what it is?

    • Madam,

      Tis true that musical likes or dislikes are often irrational and based on personal tastes.

      For many years, I disliked Mozart because i found his music banale and lacking in zest, same as I found Haydn and Schubert.

      Strangely enough, my opinions changed as I performed the music of these composers, listened to many of their works and generally enhanced my knowledge of music history, counterpoint and harmonization.

      Just because someone mediocre can sing better than you and the fact that you sing in – I presume – an amateur choir does not make you musically knowledgeable. It is amazing that given your vocal activities you can’t hear that Bocelli and Jenkins have less than mediocre voices, and that somebody should have told you is rather staggering.

      I am herewith telling you that in my informed opinion, Bocelli and Jenkins have atrocious voices – Bocelli even worse than Jenkins, if that be possible – so now you have no excuse not to explore the pantheon of great singers and develop your taste of true vocal ability.

      Sure, you can say “I don’t give a rat’s ass about what others think – I like it so there,” but that has a number of detrimental effects.

      First of all, you are shutting yourself from experiencing truly great singing. Second, you may be passing your lack of judgement onto your friends, family and kids, who will thus either grow up or remain musically stunted. Surely you wouldn’t want to do that to them.

      Callas isn’t a particularly good choice of comparison for dislike. Her voice was always highly complicated to listen to, and a personal taste to a far greater extent tham other singers. But she did make some great recordings early on in her career. She also sang some atrocious recitals and was horrible to listen to in some operas later in her career.

      Those of us with a music education and trained ears can hear when a singer sucks, in spite of any number of adoring – and clueless – fans. We state our opinions not because we desire to be snobs, but because we are truly stunned by what a well-run management agency working in concert with the recording industry can pull over the heads of general audiences. It makes us rather disgusted, especially when we know that such people could hear far better singers who do not use mikes – and probably at a cheaper ticket price – at their nearest opera house. Management agencies and singers like that only dumb down the audience and contribute further to the decline in audience knowldege about and appreciation of classical music and/or good voices.

      If you want to listen to Bocelli making pitiful faces while he sings with closed eyes or prefer Jenkins showing off her boobs in low-cut, tight dresses, be my guest. Like you, I don’t really care. I will point out, though, that you are doing yourself a disservice because there are so many fantastic and beautiful choices out there.

      Just for the sake of argument and meaning no disrespect towards disabled people, I would ask you this: if given a choice, would you prefer to watch wheel chair basketball or the NBA? When we who understand the difference hear Bocelli, we see the equivalent of basketball players trying to throw a ball into a hoop high above them from wheel chairs. When we hear truly good singers, we see the NBA, and most would probably agree that watching a top NBA game is far more entertaining. This is not said to disparage anyone with a disability – I greatly admire athletes who overcome their disabilities and can still enjoy a sport and play at a very high level. But they’d presumably be the first ones themselves to say that they’re not the equivalent of NBA players for obvious reasons. Given this understanding of the difference, we can enjoy wheel chair basketball and be thrilled at players’ skills as much as we can NBA games, because we are able to put things into perspective.

      What bothers me is when management and recording companies find artists who people can pity, slobber over or who make them feel they have a chance to make it big even if they’re older and not particularly good-looking (Boyle), and then use such psychological methods to make fans believe that these singers are true superstars who additionally are heroes because they have overcome their lot in life (though Jenkins’ boobs is not something that needs overcoming except for the male audiences who may fantasize too much). That they simply are neither great singers nor heroes makes the psychological manaipulation underlying their fame highly tasteless and exploitative.

      But by all means, do go back to your Bocelli and Jenkins albums and find your joy there.

an ArtsJournal blog