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Sunday, August 22, 2010


This Youtube video shows what was maybe the greatest female group ever, the Supremes:

This clip shows what an artist Diana Ross was in every sense. First, she was an excellent singer. Her voice may not have been the powerful instrument that Florence Ballard's was, as has been amply noted elsewhere. But Ross's tremulous, slightly reedy voice evoked a sense of unrequited longing that was perfect for the songs she sang. (Love songs are always about unrequited love; I have yet to listen to lyrics which express the sentiment, "Well, it's been great, but I have to admit, I'm getting a little bored with you sexually.")

But Ross's artistry went far beyond her voice. Her face and body language were perfect for the role as well. First, her natural feminity matched her voice. The young Ross was also very pretty, and like all good-looking people, she didn't look quite real. But she also knew how to use that face to simultaneously express vulnerability and a winking concupiescence. At times her face seems as if she's on the verge of tears, and her eyes glitter -- but in a glamorous sort of way. Each word that leaves her mouth seems to be a sensual pleasure for her: she seems to almost kiss the music as it leaves her lips.

Put it all together and she was a walking aphrodisiac. Or rather, a singing, dancing, vamping aphrodisiac.

It sounds ridiculous, I know, but watch the closeups and you'll see what I mean.

Hard to blame Berry Gordy for having put her center stage, ahead of Ballard and Mary Wilson.


Anonymous said...

John, on behalf of the very many readers of your blog, I must draw your attention to a developing issue.

Only a few posts ago, you were bemoaning your own intellectual prowess relative to geniuses. Well, I expect most of the rest of us are in the same boat, particularly in my case in the literary and linguistic departments. So I must draw your attention to this:
according to which a vocabulary of 15,000-30,000 words would put one in the realm of University professors and spelling bee winners.

So coming across "shibboleth" in your antepenultimate post puts some strain on the brain. In fact, according to this:
it is the 71,005th most frequently used word, so one can be forgiven for not knowing exactly what it means, though one might have seen it along the way with the thought "that's an interesting/odd/cool word but WTF does it mean?"

However, your last post goes just too far! Concupiescence?? GMAFB!
It doesn't make it by a mile to the 86,000 in WordCount and according to Websters online it occurs only 6 times in every 100million words in spoken or written English (and 3 of those were in the King James Bible)!

Well, thank you Lord for Google.

John Craig said...

Guy --
I suppose I should say first that your sarcasm ("the very many readers of your blog") has been noted. And hey, btw, the number of people who've clicked on the "About Me" page (to discover there's nothing there) is now up to something like 1340 -- so there!

But I do appreciate your taking the trouble to look up the frequency of usage for my two words. That's something I never would have thought to do. The reason I use "shibboleth" is because it's a word which is used occasionally by liberals and so I like to throw it back at them.

As far as concupiescence, I'll admit I had to look it up to make sure I was using it correctly (I was, it means lustfulness) and also to make sure I was spelling it correctly. I've always subscribed to the theory that if you're not really sure of your subject material or you're basically BS-ing people, it's better to use big words to obfuscate the issues at hand, and I guess that's what I've done here.

Now you'll have to explain GMAFB to me -- I'm not as up to date with the hip internet lingo as you are.

Anonymous said...

A little friendly sarcasm never hurt.

Now, are you seriously arguing that the man who finished an earlier post with "Wasn't this a great post?! LOL! LMFAO!! ROTFLMGDAO!!!" needs help with these stupic acronyms?

If so, this should do the trick:
The acronym was chosen to reduce the risk of offending the sensibilities of your many erudite and editorially demanding readers.

As far as my being up to date with anything, it only goes as far a knowing how to use Google.

John Craig said...

Guy --
Thank you for that reference site, I just looked up GMAFB, and yes, I guess it was appropriate. And actually, it would have been appropriate in your last post as well, as a response to my question asking what it meant.

Yes, friendly sarcasm, I was just using the same to put you on the defensive.

Oh, btw, I just found out a few days ago that the "editorially demanding" reader who called himself "College Promoter" a while back turned out to be one of my nephews. (Had I known that, I wouldn't have responded nearly as politely.)

Anonymous said...

John, Did you ever see Dreamgirls when it was on Broadway? One of the best shows ever. The movie didn't live up to the Broadway production, in my opinion, but Beyonce played a pretty good Diana Ross. Julie

John Craig said...

Julie --
I'm a little embarrassed to say I've only seen bits and pieces of the movie(it didn't hold my interest). I remember hearing at the time that the play made the Diana Ross character out to be a conniving lowlife. But when I checked the Wikipedia entry while writing this post, she sounded more like a victim in their outline of the plot. It's common knowledge that she had a long term affair with Berry Gordy and even had his child (while married to someone else), and that was part of the reason he made her the lead singer (the other reason was simply smart marketing, for the reasons outlined in the post). Anyway, this post wasn't a comment on any of that, really, more just a description of her abilities as a performer.

I find it interesting to go back and look at the Youtube videos of performers I liked as a teenager. I generally still like the music, it's a fun trip down Memory Lane, and I often see stuff I hadn't really noticed when I was young.

John Craig said...

PS -- My impression of Beyonce is that she expresses passion well, but is also more capable of belting out a song. Ross more warbled a song. Beyonce also gives a different impression physically, she's sort of a healthy, pretty island girl. Ross was much more fragile, and always reminded me more of a beautiful spider, if you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that Beyonce was able to adjust her voice and singing style enough to be convincing. Eddie Murphy was even better in that movie, and deserved his Oscar nomination. I suppose I'm moving off-topic now....

John Craig said...

Anonymous (Julie?) --
You're not off topic at all; I didn't see the movie in its entirety, so I'll defer to your judgment.

I just had an argument with a friend earlier this summer about whether or not Eddie Murphy was a great actor. He said that he thought Murphy was a great actor, and that the way he played all those different roles so well in The Nutty Professor movies was incredible. I disagreed. I said that Murphy was a great mimic, but not a great actor. What he did in those roles, as he has done in his comedy act and elsewhere, is show that he is a great mimic. He basically makes fun of everyone he plays, and he does that extremely well. But he doesn't really BECOME those people, which is what a great actor does. Not enough emotional depth. Again, I'll reserve judgment on his acting in the Dreamgirls movie, since I only saw snatches of it.

Anonymous said...

John, I understand and agree with what you are saying about Eddie Murphy (at least as to his goofball movies), but I have to tell you that, in this movie, he really acts. Jamie Foxx was the one who couldn't seem to pull it off in Dreamgirls. Julie

John Craig said...

Julie --
Thanks, I'll take your word on Murphy.

Surprising about Foxx, I always thought he was a pretty good actor. He was very impressive in the bits of that Ray Charles movie that I saw. Funny story about that: I happened to watch the Golden Globes back in 2004, and he gave this incredibly good, heartfelt acceptance speech for getting the Best Actor award, even seeming to break down in tears at a couple points. Then I watched the Academy Awards, and he gave the exact same speech, to the point where he seemed to break down in tears at the exact same points. That sealed it for me: he was a great actor -- as well as a complete phony.

Anonymous said...

Love songs are always about unrequited love; I have yet to listen to lyrics which express the sentiment, "Well, it's been great, but I have to admit, I'm getting a little bored with you sexually."

Great line, lol.