THROUGH THE HAZE | SING FOR YOUR SUPPER
By Marty Gleason
What is it about music? Why does it touch a spot inside us when it’s done just right?
It’s a spark that TV has tried, in vain, to package with its talent shows, mostly because being able to cover other people’s songs is not the same as producing your own new and wondrous vibe.
I have the dream like everybody else. Ten years ago I auditioned to be a starlet on a couple of these shows and I must say that the people auditioning there were all very cool – rockin’ dudes and poised, unattainable chicks. By definition, the winner from among this uber-rad crew must be ultra-cool. But of course they somehow devolve into the opposite. Examples: I wouldn’t piss on Guy Sebastian and Anthony Callea if they were on fire.
I quite liked Guy Sebastian when he won Australian Idol 2003 as a young, jazzy guy. But he then released an entire decade of bland, corporate songs and then began wearing a baseball cap and looking at people with his dead eyes.
It’s not completely his fault. The winner of these TV singing competitions is foisted with (handcuffed to) a blah new single to sing at the moment of her/his triumph and within a few days is forced to release a rushed, cash-grab, soulless album. No wonder everyone ends up hating them and they take a quick fall. Winning is like a long term curse.
I would argue these contestants’ live cover songs can be very moving, original or not. I have a lot of time for the likes of awesome local boy Dean Ray, powerful X Factor winners Dami Im and Marlisa who perhaps broke a mould for Asians to become visible in Australian TV culture , and idiosyncratic, quirky Kiyomi Vella.
For two minutes they tap into that particular feeling of emotion, truth and beauty that the rest of life obscures with its utter triviality. Then that triviality takes over when idiot judges talk vacuously to make the focus all about themselves.
The emotion’s not connected to the singing – of longing and loss and desire leading to suffering and so on – it is of course much contrived and as I read recently, “Feelings are potent shit. It doesn’t mean they’re real.” Still, I was moved by the sight of the beautiful women with their long, wavy blond and black hair, Reigan Derry and Marlisa, waiting next to each other to see who would be eliminated.
Reigan, a 26-year old from Perth, is everything a musician should be, every gesture, eye movement and voice pitch so aesthetically pure. But tell that to teenagers who have nothing to do but vote for people who remind them of themselves. On that day Reigan duelled with some nobody 14-year old named Marlisa who, week by week, had by the end unexpectedly become a lovely, full-voiced monster. The perfect star Reigan was outperformed by a kid who sang a version of the song Help.
They embraced for a few long seconds when Marlisa survived and Reigan didn’t. They are sweet kids who will probably be quickly forgotten.
Through the Haze is an entreaty to reason our way through the fog of misinformation and terrible thinking in which we’re drowning. More from Marty at sexiness.wordpress.com, contact him at [email protected]