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Random Play: Sing like you’re winning

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  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh yes it does get harder, Russell. It's also the times that bands start, that I find hard. If they're supposed to be on at 8pm, they often start later, and I turn into a pumpkin after a certain time of night.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Yeah, starting time has crept from 8 or so in the 80s to 11 now, for whatever reason, and it pisses me right off. In the meanwhile, the only thing to do is to have a nap before you go out.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    If they devoted 2 or 2 years of full time training - 5 or 6 hours a day - they could approach a reasonable copy of the Fred 'N Ginger style. But even if you tried to do that with classical ballet, you would still look really, really bad. It is a discipline that you really have to be reared in from a very early age.

    OK, I'll buy that. Partially. Particularly as ballet isn't something I know much about. But remember that all those great Hollywood dancers were trained rigorously in the vaudeville circuit, often from an extremely young age. And Rudolf Nureyev, who was no balletic slouch himself, regarded Astaire as the greatest dancer of the twentieth century.

    (Obviously, I have a deep, deep love for Fred. And Gene Kelly, too. Sometimes I can't even believe Gene Kelly is real: he looks so perfect.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Yeah, starting time has crept from 8 or so in the 80s to 11 now, for whatever reason, and it pisses me right off. In the meanwhile, the only thing to do is to have a nap before you go out.

    It's just silly, actually, especially midweek. No one wants to see bands as late as they typically come on at most bars midweek.

    Back in the old days, of course, publicans were forbidden by law to keep you up past the late news on a Wednesday. That's what's changed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    If they devoted 2 or 2 years of full time training - 5 or 6 hours a day - they could approach a reasonable copy of the Fred 'N Ginger style. But even if you tried to do that with classical ballet, you would still look really, really bad. It is a discipline that you really have to be reared in from a very early age.

    Dyan, I don't mean to sound bitchy but have you ever taken a dance class in your life? I think Douglas Wright and Michael Parmenter would have a small mountain of bones to pick with the notion that the works they've choreographed for their own companies require dancers any less dedicated than those they've worked with when creating work for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. In the end, with ticket prices for live theatre being what they are, I'm not interested.

    Like you say, Deborah, each to their own but don't judge people like us who don't "get" whatever new music is trendy etc.

    Oh, I'm just sick of 'new' bands where I can guess what CDs they've been listening to over the last six months. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Oh, I'm just sick of 'new' bands where I can guess what CDs they've been listening to over the last six months.

    I agree, at least with the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who it was what imported R&B 45s they'd been listening to in the last six months :)

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • JP Hansen,

    Speaking of Obits and popular musicians, unfortunately rock/blues guitarist extraordinaire has passed away at age 41 after a battle with cancer. Full press release at www.jeffhealey.com

    I saw him at Logan Campbell on the Hell To Pay tour. It was stunning.

    I guess this is going on in Rack n Roll heaven about now...

    :-(

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Dyan, I don't mean to sound bitchy but have you ever taken a dance class in your life? I think Douglas Wright and Michael Parmenter would have a small mountain of bones to pick with the notion that the works they've choreographed for their own companies require dancers any less dedicated than those they've worked with when creating work for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

    I don't mean one discipline has more dedication than another - in singing or in dance, just that the art they teach them is in a different league.

    Classical ballet forces a dancer to train their joints to take horrifying levels of force while the limbs are in profoundly unnatural poses much as the rule in netball where they stop when they catch the ball, or in gymnastics when you land - the rule forbidding a bounce or a hop causes horrrible injuries, two other examples or arbitrary rules than contradict the natural biomechanics of movement... and similarly cause horrendous injuries.

    Similarly in ballet, the practice of holding thighs/knees at right angles to the hips while exerting force is insane and very, very difficult to learn, and must be undertaken (like bound feet) at an early age. Likewise the type of operatic singing that Dame K does requires a feat of strength that must be painstakingly learned by someone with an already huge voice, and is a different thing than simply singing loud.

    I am no dancer - I have feet like a duck (flat, triangular) and you need "feet like exclaimation points" as Balanchine put it - high arcj, narrow and very straight. My feet barely make the grade for everyday life, they are so deformed, I could never have danced classical ballet.

    But I have known quite a few dancers - and took enough lessons to improve a few other pursuits, especially skateboarding and soccer. And my dancer friends all devoted ridiculous amounts of their childhood to become... part of the corps de ballet, no hope of ever being an actual principal dancer.

    One, like Audrey Hepburn, had a promising career ruined by simply growing too big, and of the other two - one male, Aaron went logging for one summer and became too bulky to put his limbs through the required paces at speed, and lost his place in the company he danced for, the other one I knew danced pretty successfully for about 5 seasons, always in the corps.

    She did make a ton of money during Gold Rush Days in the Northwest Territories as one of the Can-Can dancers in a Klondike show. Now that's a strenuous dance, she taught it to me. But skinned knees, pulled hamstrings - the whole dance, like modern dance, only requires stength and agility, while classical ballet requires strength and agility while your hips are pointing in one direction and your knees and thighs are pointing in another. That's hard to do while standing still. And you can't really do that in full flight without being trained from an early age.

    But to get back to the original point about Dame K and her behaviour - gee, isn't there an awfully high standard set for women? Cricket players can be abusive to emergency room staff, iconic writers can shoot their own dog to intimidate their family, athletes can crush their own children to death with their bare hands, politicians can drunkenly whip out their dicks and urinate on the floor in front of horrified hotel staff and everyone will make excuses for them, but if KTK ventures an opinion - an opinion she was asked to state - she's a monster.

    I'll agree HW seems to have better manners and a sweeter disposition, from what I've seen in interviews, but I don't think the bile that is heaped on someone like KTK is accurate or fair.

    And what's the problem with her spitting her gum into a dresser's hand before she takes the stage? Do we criticise a prize fighter for not removing his mouthpiece and locking eyes with his trainer and saying "gee, I know it's gross, and I'm sorry to ask you while you're busy watching me, but do you suppose you could hold this for a little while while a have a drink and rinse my mouth? Thanks so much for that". From what I've seen they just spit it into a waiting hand, their gaze fixed in the middle distance.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think that while there might be a case to answer in terms of opera's popular appeal compared to 'fake' popera stuff, I really don't think that there is in terms of actual technical skill

    No musos, please. Some things are more important than ability
    (1988 advert placed by the first three members of Suede in the NME, prior to recruiting Bernard Butler).

    The above is one of my fave quotes. Many people of impeccable musical talent, like heavy rock guitarists, produce the most appalingly eye-closing music. See also jazz.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Also, wasn't the whole Ti Kanawa/Westenra thing just the extension of hip-hop style "dissin" into the opera/popera/granny pop genres? I'm wondering when the drive-bys are gonna start?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    No musos, please. Some things are more important than ability
    (1988 advert placed by the first three members of Suede in the NME, prior to recruiting Bernard Butler).

    The above is one of my fave quotes. Many people of impeccable musical talent, like heavy rock guitarists, produce the most appalingly eye-closing music. See also jazz.

    I was thinking exactly the same thing but wasn't brave enough to post it. Practised perfection can often equal dull.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Giles Reid,

    Practised perfection can be dull, yes, but it can also result in masterpieces. Even mechanical perfection doesn't have to be dull: Conlon Nancarrow's studies for player piano are some of the most exhilarating (and unpredictable) pieces of music I've heard.

    There are tons of rock albums in which every part was recorded separately with a click track, endlessly repeated until it was just right. Does this perfectionism make those bands boring? Need I mention electronic music? Drum machines have pretty good technique.

    There's an endless amount of musical snobbery in the world: Rock is better than jazz because jazz is boring, Pavarotti is a better singer than Bob Dylan because he can hit high C, Blackalicious is better than 50 Cent because he uses bigger words. None of it is any more interesting than Dame Kiri's dislike of Hayley Westenra's singing.

    I find the most useful musical opinions (ie. reviews) to be those that treat the music on its own terms and explain the things that make a particular recording worth listening to, or give really good reasons why it isn't worth listening to. Reviews like "this album sucks, I hate death metal singing" are just pointless, no matter what your opinion of death metal is.

    Christchurch • Since May 2007 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Spinner,

    But to get back to the original point about Dame K and her behaviour - gee, isn't there an awfully high standard set for women? Cricket players can be abusive to emergency room staff, iconic writers can shoot their own dog to intimidate their family, athletes can crush their own children to death with their bare hands, politicians can drunkenly whip out their dicks and urinate on the floor in front of horrified hotel staff and everyone will make excuses for them, but if KTK ventures an opinion - an opinion she was asked to state - she's a monster.

    I'll agree HW seems to have better manners and a sweeter disposition, from what I've seen in interviews, but I don't think the bile that is heaped on someone like KTK is accurate or fair.

    And what's the problem with her spitting her gum into a dresser's hand before she takes the stage? Do we criticise a prize fighter for not removing his mouthpiece and locking eyes with his trainer and saying "gee, I know it's gross, and I'm sorry to ask you while you're busy watching me, but do you suppose you could hold this for a little while while a have a drink and rinse my mouth? Thanks so much for that". From what I've seen they just spit it into a waiting hand, their gaze fixed in the middle distance.

    For a start what the hell has this to do with gender????

    the examples you trotted out are all reprehensible and utterly unacceptable (and some far more so than spitting gum) i agree...and they should all be thoroughly disapproved on in the strongest terms possible.....and those perpetrating such acts brought to account and shamed for their dispicable actions/behaviour...as should that pompous windbag kiri!!!
    As for the utterly pointless and innane comparison of a boxer with an opera singer well for a start there is a very big difference in the relationship between a boxer and their trainer...there is likely to be a long standing relationship of MUTUAL RESPECT and ongoing familiarity between those two people...wheras in the relationship between a pompous cow like kiri and her dresser (usually a junior memeber of staff at a place such as the aotea or other such venue) there is no ongoing professional relationship...the wardrobe staff/dressers go from production to production....and in the instances where i have personally witnessed kiri behave in such a manner there was absolutely no mutual respect shown by her holiness.....in fact it was an act of abuse...
    also in the context of a prizefight the mouthguard is both necessary and mandatory and expected so therfore provisions are made to allow for such an act....(antibacterial soap on hand etc).....chewing gum in opera is not!!!!...
    As well as that she only seems to perform such an act when and where it suits her...to be rude or to make some petulant point...
    and to further labor the point...she is the only performer i have ever seen do that....it would be equally unacceptable behaviour on any stage for any performer....ive never witnessed such a thing on any of the innumerable rock/metal/rap etc stages i have stood at the side of!!! (tho i have witnessed some fantastic tanties in my time..all of which received the level of contempt and derision they deserved!

    it is unhygenic, revolting, abusive, unnecessary and utterly REVOLTING!!!!

    Remmers • Since Jul 2007 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    And what's the problem with her spitting her gum into a dresser's hand before she takes the stage? Do we criticise a prize fighter for not removing his mouthpiece and locking eyes with his trainer and saying "gee, I know it's gross, and I'm sorry to ask you while you're busy watching me, but do you suppose you could hold this for a little while while a have a drink and rinse my mouth? Thanks so much for that". From what I've seen they just spit it into a waiting hand, their gaze fixed in the middle distance.

    I think the problem is, Kiri probably had a rubbish bin to put her gum into, and boxers don't have their own hands to take their own mouthguard out.

    If I was the dresser, I'd have to restrain myself a great deal not to smile and rub the gum into her hair.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Spinner,

    .in fact only one american soprano came even close [nb: edited: just slightly too hard on the reputation for the publisher's comfort ... RB]

    apologies RB.....i certainly do not wish to in any way cause any issue for you with regard to my observations/opinions etc.....
    to quote southpark....
    "Parental Advisory!!!!

    Warning contains offensive material and explicit language!!!!
    the following program contains coarse language and due to its content should not be viewed by anyone!!!!!"

    i stand by what i say etc but realise the potential issues for anothers blogspace that may result.

    Mike Skinner (in case anyone felt i was hiding behind a pseudonym)

    Remmers • Since Jul 2007 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Mike Skinner

    You've moved to Remuera? Are you going to rename The Streets to The Avenues?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    There are tons of rock albums in which every part was recorded separately with a click track, endlessly repeated until it was just right. Does this perfectionism make those bands boring?

    Not always, but, sadly, often. The US album charts have been full of such beautifully recorded abominations for decades. Perfect for hi-fi salesmen though.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    As I've said before. Haley Westenra certainly does seen to have nicer manners and a sweeter disposition than Dame K - that is evident in their demeanour even in photographs - but the invective and malice that is heaped on Dame K at every turn seems out of proportion to the behavioiur that has been recounted.

    It's true that poor treatment of employees and those in menial stations in life is pretty ugly - it would be nice if there were more people like Lillie Langtry, the late 19thC actress who paid her staff so handsomely and was so kind to them that when she lost her fortune her whole household of servants chose to stay and work for her, without pay. Or Elvis Presley, whose kindness and generousity was legendary. Even Elvis, in his dark days, threw tantrums and once shot his television, though that last act seems to me more a symptom of wealth and access to firearms than bad behaviour.

    Then there is the dreadful telephone-hurlers of the acting and supermodelling world, they inflice genuine injuries. One supermodel is alleged to have hurled a jar of mayonnaise at the 5 year old daughter of her maid. And there is the very funny example of Elton John, running around in a towering rage at his staff, incensed at the weather outside.

    And then there are the heartening examples - a maid who'd worked for many wealthy actresses and models and had fleeced them of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewellery, when finally being prosecuted told the court that while working for Isabella Rossellini she had never taken a single thing, as IR was "such a good, kind gentle person" she couldn't bring herself to steal from her. Or eccentric pianist Glenn Gould who adored his elderly housekeeper, making her the beneficiary of his will (despite being a generation younger he died before her).

    But mostly divas and stars - and toddlers - whose every whim is satisfied often wind up terribly unhappy and badly behaved.

    As long as the don't commit fraud, mistreat animals, drive drunk, rape or beat someone up, It doesn't seem fair to judge them on the 2nd or 3rd hand account of someone's quibble over their behavour or tone of voice.

    I once saw Barry Humphfries have a HUGE tantrum at the airport because the flavour of icecream he desired was not available, and he was taking out his rage on his unhappy PA at the time. I was tempted to yell "HEY BARRY" because, quite by coincidence, he was standing next to someone I knew named Barry I'd just taken to the airport, but I didn't as I was afraid I would get his PA fired... or killed. I don't think this necessarily defines Barry Humphries as a person, but it was very funny.

    Dane K offered a terse, tactless, and no doubt honest opinion to a question she was asked, and is called a "monster" a "bitch" a "cow" and "an old bag". This seems out of proportion to her comment.

    I would agree she does not seem to have the excellent manners and sweet disposition of other performers, and most I've met do
    seem to have better manners than the average joe. Perphaps not Dame K, I've never met her. Though my mother in law used to babysit her many, many years ago. She said she was a sweet, insecure and slightly clingly little thing, anxious to please.

    As for the utterly pointless and innane comparison of a boxer with an opera singer well for a start there is a very big difference in the relationship between a boxer and their trainer...there is likely to be a long standing relationship of MUTUAL RESPECT and ongoing familiarity between those two people...wheras in the relationship between a pompous cow like kiri and her dresser (usually a junior memeber of staff at a place such as the aotea or other such venue) there is no ongoing professional relationship

    Going into a ring to fight and going on stage to perform are not so vastly different. Each requires physical and mental preparation, concentration and a host of behind the scene-ers to get them there, both require huge mental and physical effort.

    If I was the dresser, I'd have to restrain myself a great deal not to smile and rub the gum into her hair.

    We don't know what went on here, as only Dame K and her dresser will really know what happened. Everything else is 2nd and 3rd hand accounts, and our own projections and assumptions.

    If the dresser stuck out a hand to receive the gum, this would suggest to me they were a willing participant in this - I will agree - unhygenic exchange. The dresser should probably 1) not stick out their hand 2) have a piece of paper ready to dispose of the gum 3)quit in a huff, depending on their own actual reaction to the event.

    But this does not strike me a nearly as offensive or as unhygenic as the actor who licked drunkenly licked a woman's face, with sour wine-and sushi smelling saliva breath, or a prominent (female) athlete I once observed in a Air NZ washroom changing her baby and leaving a filthy, soiled nappy beside the sink. Pretty unhygenic, pretty thoughtless.

    What does go on between a performer/actor/famous person and their staff is only known the the individuals involved. The rest is just gossip.

    But my original point is that whenever anyone famous - as in having made some success overseas - visits NZ they are greeted with endless challenges and often malicious gossip.

    Sometimes the crap they get is funny, even if I do sympathise. I remember reading an interview with a NZer who has become a big star on US TV who was out for a drink at the Viaduct and was drunkenly accosted by a guy who accused him of staring at his date. "I wasn't staring at your girl, mate" the TV star protested.
    The drunk was incensed and beat him up,yelling "WHATSAMATTER? SHE'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU!! YOU ARROGANT PRICK!!!"

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Spinner,

    We don't know what went on here, as only Dame K and her dresser will really know what happened. Everything else is 2nd and 3rd hand accounts, and our own projections and assumptions.

    ummm myself and the several other people within 6 feet of her performance have a fair idea what went down....

    Remmers • Since Jul 2007 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    If the dresser stuck out a hand to receive the gum, this would suggest to me they were a willing participant in this

    Years ago my then GF was a little too enebriated so I had to take her home and tuck her into bed. No sooner had she put her head on the pillow than she blurted out "Bucket!". It was my first time in her flat. I looked around but there was no bucket, no substitute, and no time left. I had to cup my two hands together in front of her face, and she filled them. Tenfold.

    I remember reading an interview with a NZer who has become a big star on US TV

    Alan Dale?

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Great post. I suppose that degree of difficulty does not, on its own, make something "better", even if it is more skilfully produced. (Unless the degree of difficulty allows the audience to enjoy the music more than it otherwise could. But enjoyment is pretty subjective.)

    I used to hate broccoli and red wine but now I think both are pretty good. I couldnt say whether liking brocolli is more sophisticated and mature than not liking broccoli, but I find it really offputting when people use wine to assert their social and cultural superiority in conversation. I wonder why Kiri felt the need to say what she said, it wasnt very nice and it doesn't make her seem especially magnanimous.

    I remember when the Smashing Pumpkins got bored of the repeated encores so treated the crowd to some of their "experimental" music. I remember the crowd filing out of the stadium on a low note. Still, I cant help but think of that scene from the Shawshank Redemption...

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    I remember reading an interview with a NZer who has become a big star on US TV

    Alan Dale?

    No, it was that Amazing Race guy, with the spiky hair. Phil Keogan (sp?) I think. His point was it can be a little... exhausting when he comes to NZ, they were talking about whether there really was a tall poppy syndrome, in the Listener about 5 years ago I think.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Heh heh ... my bad ... I fell into the trap of only thinking as far back as the recent TV schedule. A bit like how those 'Best Song of All Time' Polls invariably place a few of the current Top o' the Pops into the Top 10 All Time Best Songs ...

    Justin Timberlake, Rhianna, Mi-Rs ...

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Spinner,

    hardly a meaningfull comparison between a successful celeb getting harassed whilst enjoying a private meal..... and the public reacting to a persons observed behaviour or public comments....

    Remmers • Since Jul 2007 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Well, Kiri might not be in the same world as Hayley, but she's on the same album as Elizabeth Marvelly

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

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