Senseless Scribbling of an Idiot #34: Do You Or Don’t You, Which Is It?

Legendary singer Lena Horne is dead at 92 and the commentary is pouring in.

“She was so beautiful, so classy.”

“She was a top-notch performer.”

“Trailblazer, American Beauty, Civil Rights Hero and American Icon: We salute you Lena Horne and thank you for leaving this world better off than when you first found it.”

I agree with all those statements.  I will not lie and say that I was this huge Lena Horne fan.  No, I wasn’t, but since I sang in a jazz ensemble and danced as part of a show group, I knew of her music.  I thought she had a great voice.  The first time I ever heard Stormy Weather, it was sung by some white girl from Kansas at a jazz competition in New York City.  When I got home, I downloaded the song as it was sang by several different artists.  Lena Horne’s was the best.  But no, I never saw her perform live, or owned any CD or anything she ever did.  So I’m not going to pretend to be all “LENA HORNE FOREVER,” like some people do whenever a celebrity dies.

At any rate, I’m not here to talk about that.

Here is a comment I found on CNN.com.  (Yeah, I’m always on that site, so what?)

there is no way on god’s green earth that “entertainers” like beyonce and rihanna will clean up their acts and carry themselves as classy women like Lena..the money is too good setting us back to the stoneages, besides their pimp/handler jay Z won’t let them.

Lena..dorothy..eartha..and josephine will still remain the ones who have influenced MY life, and My daughters look up to them, and not beyonce rihanna, and lady (gag gag)..thank god!

I totally agree with this statement, but I have such a huge problem with it.  Like I said, I wasn’t an obsessed Lena Horne fan, or Dorothy Dandridge, but I love Josephone Baker and Eartha Kitt’s voice is just so sultry and mysterious.  I’m also into Billie, Ella and Dinah Washington.  I like that sort of music when I’m in the mood.  They can actually sing.  I’m inspired.  The music has some kind of meaning to it.  And if I knew how to foxtrot, I could dance to it.

Look, I don’t know Beyonce or Rihanna.  We didn’t go to grade school together.  I don’t know what they’re really like when they’re offstage.  I only know what I see from reading celebrity trash rags and whatever Perez Hilton tells me.  It doesn’t make it law, it just makes it all I know.  I think Beyonce can really sing, but she sells herself short as far as her talent goes.  Rihanna cannot sing at all to me.  She sounds like two cats in a cage match.  Both of them are attractive, only because they walk around with barely any clothes on and a face full of makeup.  Beyonce and all her weavey-wonder doesn’t possess very much natural beauty to me.  Whenever they get up and sing, I am not inspired in any way shape or form.  Yes, they have some songs that I like to dance to.  I might have a Beyonce moment where I blast her music while I’m cleaning.  Would I say I’m a die hard Beyonce fan?  No.  Would I go to her concerts?  No.  Would I actually buy her CD?  No.  Rihanna couldn’t get me to throw a cup of tepid water on her if she was on fire.  Her music is so uninspiring.  Everything about her is tin foil and fake.

Even Lady Ga Ga, her music is tin can.  She’s in heavy rotation, i.e., we’re being force-fed her music.  About a year ago, my boss kept saying she had a Lady Ga Ga song stuck in her head.  I was thinking to myself, “Who the hell is Lady Ga Ga?  What a stupid name.”  It is a stupid name.  She looks weird.  She dresses strangely (and I dress pretty strangely), but her music is popular because of the beats and because it doesn’t really require a whole lot of thought.  It sounds better turned up on volume blast and it’s perfect for mindless gyration in a club.  Do I think she can sing?  I don’t know.  I can’t really tell with all that auto-tuning going on and the synthesisers and whatever other electronic gizmos going on in the background.  Is she entertaining, yes?

But for this lady who made that comment, you know why they are making money?  Because this is what people like!  People are buying their CDs.  I only know two or three people who don’t like Beyonce, but those two or three people know all of her songs by heart.  Why should they carry themselves as classy women when we are climbing all over ourselves to buy their CDs? Standing in line to go see their concerts?  Seriously.  This is what they put out because people like this sort of thing.  If the people want it, street trash like Beyonce and Rihanna will give it to them.

Old school singers like Lena Horne, even newer singers:  Anita Baker, Whitney Houston (before the crack), etc, are just not in these days because people nowadays are too stupid to appreciate real music with an emotional response.  I keep saying that I think most people are emotionally vacant.  People are so immature that they are not prepared to delve deeply into their own thoughts and emotions because what they might find there scares them.  If it requires too much thought, too much time, too much involvement, nobody is interested.  So what happens?  Throw some scantily clad scrawny women up on stage, singing trite pre-canned lyrics set to some booty-popping beats that somehow eradicates all thought from the mind and we’re hooked.

These trite songs are being aimed at a younger audience every year.  Look into your own family.  Think of your youngest child, your youngest cousin, the youngest person you know, and ask yourself, “Does this kid know the lyrics to any Beyonce song?”  I bet they do.  Start’em off young and they grow up on this crap.  By the time they’re teenagers, they aren’t even interested in anything else, because they’ve been spoon-fed straight from a can their whole lives.  These kids grow up into emotionally vacant adults with no real depth to their lives, having no idea what true talent is.  I know grown women who are like, “Oh my God, Beyonce can sing!  She is so talented.  I am really inspired by her.  I really look up to her.”

Really?

How sad.

I am a fan of real music, but yes, I shamefully admit, whenever a Beyonce song comes on the radio, I start singing along just like everybody else.  I even tried to do some dance moves in my living room once.  It wasn’t a pretty sight, but my point is that it’s easy to get sucked into it because I don’t have to put much thought into it.  I have to stop myself, remind myself that I don’t want to endorse this.  These temptations are everywhere though, and if I don’t stop myself, I’ll be a drone like everybody else.

If you hate it, don’t buy it.  Don’t let your kids buy it.  Don’t let your kids watch it on TV.  You can’t control every movement they make, but you can try to instill in them some other values and interests.  I learned to like Anita Baker, pre-crack Whitney, and Sade from my parents.  I got into jazz, classical and opera from singing and dancing in the high school chorus.  My parents are definitely not Beyonce fans and can’t stand to listen to the music in the house.  They didn’t let us buy music they didn’t want to hear and we didn’t get to sit around watching videos all day long to pick up on “crap.”

That is the reason they are so popular.  They are making money because the trash they sell is trash people want.  Nobody ever told them that there was actually something else out there.  Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Ga Ga, they are not singers.  They are entertainers.  There is a difference.  Most of the artists today are not singers, not in the classical sense.  They are merely entertainers.  Some of them can actually carry a note, but it’s drowned out with fancy beats.  Some of them can dance.  Some of them dress well.  Some of them are pretty to look at.  There’s a whole lot going on to distract you from the fact that they actually have no real talent.

And that is what people like.

They would not sell MILLIONS of records if people didn’t actually like it.  I’m just trying to tell people to stop comparing today’s artists with the talent of yesteryear.  They are not even in the same class.  If you don’t like it, stop buying it, stop listening to it.  I hate it when people say, “God, I hate Beyonce,” but then they own all of her CDs and just spent $200 to go to her concert.  If you hate her so much, you sure are helping to line her pockets.  Then next year she’ll put out another crappy ass album and that same person will be like, “Ugh, that song is terrible!” and then run out and buy that album as well. You’re not helping.

Promote the artists you really do like.  Turn someone on to your favourite singer.  No more of this wishy-washy, “I hate Rihanna, but then I want my haircut like hers, and I own all of her CDs, but I miss back in the day music and none of today’s artists can really sing, but I’m going to a Lady Ga Ga concert tomorrow and I just bought Beyonce’s box set.”

That doesn’t even make any sense.

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