We don’t do much music criticism on this blog, which is kind of strange since I’m very much into music. Admittedly, my tastes are somewhat more exacting than most (just as I’m a notoriously picky movie-watcher), but having high standards shouldn’t be a disqualifier.
I don’t drive much (what with living close to work) but when I do, the radio comes on and I hop from station to station looking for something decent. During this process I came to hear “Womanizer” by Britney Spears.
Let there be no mistake, I don’t think Spears will ever go down as a great musical talent. She is, as the phrase goes, a “pop tart,” but for all that, she’s a good one.
That is to say, her tunes tend to have excellent production values. I recall an earlier song by her – “Toxic,” I think, that basically used a string/guitar riff right out of a 60s James Bond score by John Barry. Her vocals were essentially irrelevant. Indeed, I have no idea if the woman can sing. But for overproduced pop, it’s pretty good. Better than the Kelly Clarkson shriekfests that seem overpopulate the airwaves. Clarkson is Celine Dion with the accent.
Speaking of female vocalists, I’ll put a plug in for Jo Stafford, who passed away this summer in her 90s. I’ve got her Christmas/Winter album and it is outstanding. My grandparents had “Ski Trails,” on vinyl, and we listened to it every year on Christmas Day – usually late in the day as the guests were leaving and things were winding down.
“Ski Trails” wasn’t strictly a Christmas album, but rather a bunch of winter songs – a genre that has pretty much disappeared these days. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is still heard from time to time, but “Moonlight in Vermont” and “By the Fireside” are much neglected. Indeed, some aspiring diva should cover booth of these – Nora Jones would do a good job – and sell a few million copies. I will warn our readers that “By the Fireside” pretty much requires a low-burning blaze, an armchair – and, if possible - a partner.