in LiveJournal

How I like my divas: The way Village Voice’s Frank Kogan doesn’t: “There’s a style of female singing that I’ll call post-Lena Horne vocal mastery: a strong, cool, dignified sound that uses jazz timing to drift above the beat in a stately manner. By the ’50s this had become a major style for high-end, supposedly sophisticated pop singing. Of course, rock’n’roll came along and redefined pop away from this stuff, but later, in the ’70s, rockers like Bowie and Ferry set out to reclaim such pre-rock stylings; and then as a further development in the ’80s and ’90s you get all these blank British bores like Sade and Lisa Stansfield and Tracey Thorn putting retro jazz-pop mastery on top of modern dance tracks. This new mastery doesn’t have the chops of ’50s sirens like, say, Chris Connor or Rosemary Clooney, but it doesn’t need to: The big lie of ’40s and ’50s sophisticated pop was that the performer had control over sound, whereas the big lie of sophisticated Brits is that they have control over style. So even weak-voiced singers like the chanteuse in St. Etienne and that whispering idiot in Black Box Recorder can come on with this empty Britcool and seem masterful in doing so.”

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