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Authentic BS

June 12, 2007   |   2 Comments

Some years ago, The New York Times ran an op-ed piece entitled, “Authentic? Never Mind” by Paul Krugman. It’s about how presidential candidates are trying to appear authentic. (Oxymoron.) One candidate, for example, switched from a Lincoln Continental to a pickup truck to appear authentic during his Senate run. Does anyone really fall for #(@) like this?

Substituting the image of authenticity for authenticity is dangerous. When you can’t tell the difference, anyone can lie to you about anything. You can lie to yourself.

Some examples:
Ladies with Wedding Scrapbooks. When I was on the Oprah show a few years ago (talking about The Hard Questions to ask before marriage), one of the guests was a woman who had a bridal scrapbook. In it were pictures of gowns, flower arrangements, and wedding rings that she might like. There were lists of caterers and business cards of wedding bands (music, not rings). For the groom, she had selected photos of various tuxedos. The problem? She didn’t even have a boyfriend. I felt sad. Instead of looking for love, this young woman was seeking to cast someone in the role of groom. She had the costumes all picked out and the script written. Mr. Husband was a staging necessity.

Christina Aguilera. (Or Mariah Carey) Whenever I hear one of these singers, I want them to SHUT UP. Do they have astonishing voices? Yes. Range, power, technique: check, check, check. But there is no feel. They’re pretending to be singers. There is no sense of anything but performance, nothing of soulfulness. All the melisma, escalating hand flutters, and pained expressions in the world will never make one single moment of authenticity, the kind that you hear when the song is emanating from the inside out, not the other way around. You can excuse Britney or Madonna (whom I love) because they don’t have a choice. They aren’t gifted with great voices. They can carry a tune and surround themselves with beats, style, dancers, and costumes and it’s all good. But when you hear someone pimping a real voice, it makes me VERY UPSET.

We seem to have lost all common sense about what is genuine and what is pretending to be genuine.

We suffer from image poisoning.

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  • Posted by:  J

    I think most singers are “imitations”.
    That’s why auditions are so great.
    The performers are real.Then they leave themselves on the stage and enter the world of fake.
    Sorry to be so cynical.I am actually a very happy person who loves music. but your thoughts touched me.

  • Posted by:  susan piver

    dear fellow music lover,
    hi and thanks for the thoughts. i agree–the freshest performances can be at rehearsals and the like. but there are some performers, sometimes, who seem to transcend all that and are just singing to sing or playing to play. as opposed to singing or playing to “get a deal.” which makes for really bad music.

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