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.