04 February 2010

Dol on the Dial - Rising Above the Big Top

by guest columnist Dolores Dagenais.  Follow her on Twitter. 
I’m watching Pink singing, suspended near nude and soaking wet in a sling of white fabric. She spins and reels and twists and when finally landing safely back on the Grammy Awards stage looks decidedly proud and self satisfied. Why shouldn’t she, she’s just given a performance unlike any we’ve ever seen, worthy of a circus performer or an athlete.  I am impressed but I also realise that I have absolutely no idea what she was singing about past the first few moments when her feet were still earth bound. Or what the actual song had to do with being trusted up and flown about like bundle in a stork’s beak.  I realize that I have been WATCHING her sing which is a contradictory action.  Singers, sing to be heard, not watched, a lesson Susan Boyle surely must have taught us by now.
The disturbing trend in modern performance is to be more flash than substance, the unfortunate thing is that Pink is actually talented, she can sing and she can write...so why the flying acrobat act?  Now if they’d suspended Taylor Swift a few hundred feet in the air to distract us from her very pitchy performance and near annihilation of Stevie Nick’s “Rhiannon” I might have been able to appreciate that as a necessary sleight of hand,  I’m not panning Ms. Swift, she’s done some incredible work marketing herself in the last couple of years, but the girl can’t sing and shouldn’t pretend to be able to, she wouldn’t be the first songwriter with limited vocal prowess to find a place in music history.
Lady Gaga who can actually belt a good vocal was typically....uh...shall we say...interesting”, she certainly has a strong sense of the theatrical, but what I long to see from her more than the flash and fire nightmare of a   cabaret show pulled from the darkest regions of purgatory is a straight on unadorned performance.  Girl and piano empty stage, so much braver than dangling from wires.  To me there’s something vulnerable and appealing to a good performer who can strip it all down to the bare essentials of the song rather than swinging nude from banners or poles.
There is a kind of sweet almost painful irony to this year’s Grammy’s where a long overdue tribute to Neil Young the very antithesis of flash and glitter sits alongside performances that rival Cirque du Soleil.  It gives me hope that maybe somewhere someone is actually still listening instead of staring jaw agape at the spangles and thighs.  It gives me hope then when all the sequins fall off the industry and the glitter rusts away...music...real music will still rise above the big top. 
Dolores Dagenais' songs are a blend of insightful, poetic lyrics and sweetly crafted Blues/Folk/Rock fusion. They cover every topic, often straying into the realms of her childhood, exploring relationships, spirituality, politics and even delving into the lives of her friends and family, she takes her inspiration where she finds it and it finds her often. She has collected a catalogue of over 200 finished songs and always has a new idea brewing on the back burner. Dolores has connected with audiences at countless venues in Nova Scotia, Toronto, Barrie and Northern Ontario including Northern Lights Festival Boreal, Brampton Folk Festival,  Sudbury SummerFest, Tall Grass Festival, and New Glasgow Jubilee, OCFF, CBC Radio, CKLU and CKEC. Her fans span all ages and social stratas and live as far away as China, Germany and the UK.


S P Tatum said...

Musician though she may be, Pink's performance was remarkable but not intrinsically musical. Her message was "I'm Pink!" and, save for a hammock and a few strategic ribbons, she was.

But then, the Grammy broadcast is not intrinsically musical either. It's a show about music not a show of music.Its job is to promote the participating artists and the music industry in general.

It's a commercial, not a concert. Like the Oscars and the Golden Globes, the show is, at its core, about exposure. And in every sense of the word, Pink got plenty of that.

Good piece. More please!

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