Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Compare and Contrast

Today, let's do a little show-biz exegesis, shall we? Herewith, three versions of one song, spanning, in various ways, three eras of entertainment and of interpretation.

First up, Judy. Her rendition - complete with an almost never-heard intro - is a reminder, among other things, of what a superb band singer she was. She brings all she's got to this number, but never for a moment lets you really think she believes it - a very Vaudeville attitude toward what could be a pretty cynical number.

Barbra's version is, as you'll see at the very end, actually from her appearance on The Judy Garland Show; in fact, it aired the fall before Judy's. Still, it's light years away from her hostess's playful but faithful rendition, poised as it is on the edge of mid-sixties "kookiness", as if just waiting for Laugh-In to happen.

Streisand at this age - just 21 - is amazing to watch; she's not so much performing as possessed by a talent she's still trying to figure out how to handle. That makes the bridge of this arrangement, a mishmash of other love songs, so odd and so oddly effective. How is it possible that this awkward, basically uneducated and unworldly girl can be at succeeding moments the gawkiest thing since My Friend Flicka and a one-woman compendium of twentieth-century show-biz?

Finally, the state of the art, turn of the century edition. Audra McDonald has the most "trained" voice of these three, and she gives a sense of acting the part of a nightclub belter rather than being one. Still, she's got the chops to put this one over, and her manic break midsong is if anything even more fun than Babs's.

What does it all prove? Honestly, I'm not at all sure, although I do know that I adore all three. I've never understood the need to choose one diva and automatically shower filth on any other. I think that maybe the lesson is: talent will out.

1 comment:

  1. judy's like the popular kid who it all comes so easy to, barbra acts the cut-up, the JD laughing it off and audra is the bookworm who studys hard and is determined to ace the test because she always makes As in school. judy's is the most appealing to me.