I can't recall a public performance more divisive than Aretha Franklin's cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" on the Sept. 29 episode of The Late Show with David Letterman. The conversations I had about it fell into two distinct camps: those who loved and those who hated it. Both were adamant. One person on the latter side suggested that anyone who posted praise of it was just traffic-whoring. One person on the former side jokingly called for a ban on opinions, specifically of those who suggested that Franklin's vocals on the studio version of "Deep" had been sweetened with Auto-tune .
This morning, the Queen of Soul/Surly Auntie of Pop Culture, Aretha Franklin, was beamed via satellite into a dozen or so different local and cable morning shows in a junket to promote her upcoming Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics album (featuring her divisive cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep"). As a result of the satellite delay, Franklin's faulty earpiece, her lack of sleep, and her general does-not-give-a-fuck-ness, a comedy of errors ensued. Highlights are above.
Audio of the purse-carrying gift from heaven Aretha Franklin's cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" (with a twist of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough") made the rounds on the internet yesterday. Later, she tore the roof off David Letterman's studio when she performed the medley on the Late Show (it's the first release off her upcoming Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics album). While her voice has noticably aged and isn't quite as acrobatic as it once was, the woman can still wail. Her pipes remain among our country's greatest natural resources.
In the '70s and '80s, Martha Wash was known for singing club hits alongside the legendary Sylvester. With Izora Rhodes, she formed the duo Two Tons o' Fun, which was renamed the Weather Girls when their indelible 1982 hit "It's Raining Men" took off. Her titanic soprano voice is unmistakable, but it didn't stop multiple producers from employing much thinner model types to lip synch Wash's vocals in videos without properly crediting Wash. And all because Wash is overweight and not your average girl in the video. These videos included Black Box's "Everybody Everybody" and "Strike It Up," as well as C+C Music Factory's global smash that helped define early '90s dance pop, "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)."
Before a full house at the Bryant Park Hotel's screening room last night, singer/songwriter/reality TV genius K. Michelle told the crowd that she wanted to find an "over-the-top" way to commemorate the first anniversary of her debut album, Rebellious Soul. Her solution was Rebellious Soul: The Musical, a 30-minute hip-hopera that interpolates songs from her album and weaves them into a narrative about a stripper who falls in love with one of her clients. Like most of her output, this is based on K. Michelle's story (early on in her career she financed her demos via dancing).
Here is Mariah Carey in the gown she wore to the Fresh Air Fund's Salute to American Heroes Gala last night deciding to take the subway. Just like a peasant. A peasant in a prom dress on public transportation. Isn't that funny?
It took almost 30 years for Larry Kramer's acclaimed play The Normal Heart to be adapted into a movie—Ryan Murphy's take on Kramer's autobiographical account of the early days of AIDS will premiere Sunday on HBO. In a rare interview with the New York Times, the now frail former Gay Men's Health Crisis/ACT UP activist Kramer explained his version of why Barbra Streisand's adaptation never got off the ground: She didn't want to portray gay men fucking.
Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse is latest in a long line of eccentric Mariah Carey album titles (including Butterfly, Glitter, Charmbracelet, The Emancipation of Mimi, E=MC², and Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel). Carey officially announced her long-delayed 14th studio album (out May 27) last night via the video above, explaining that the title comes from her "first and only self portrait," which she drew at age 3.
This weekend, a News Nerd story with the headline "Patti Labelle Arrested After Fist Fight with Aretha Franklin" made the rounds. As of right now, the post has been shared 1,700 times on Twitter and 41,000 times on Facebook. People gleefully spread the news that these ladies of soul, elegance, and attitude came to blows. Of course, if people thought for a second, "That's ridiculous! I've never heard of the News Nerd. Can I trust this source?" and then checked the site's home page, they would have seen more ridiculous headlines and a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen:
We already know that there are several things that Patti LaBelle does not give a fuck about. The latest entry in what is destined to be an overflowing file as age ripens Ms. LaBelle into the greatest crabby old lady pop culture has ever witnessed is the label of "diva." In a terrific interview for PrideSource, the 69-year-old living legend gave writer Chris Azzopardi an earful of thoughts about the watering down of a word she clearly once considered to be a big compliment:
Clown chanteuse Celine Dion recently appeared on the Canadian show Le Banquie (which her site describes as "a Quebec version of American game show Deal Or No Deal"), where she was treated to watching footage of herself rehearsing a song in a bathroom. And I do mean treated: In an oversized reaction, she turns hysterical while herself be her normal weird self. I want to see footage of her reacting to her reactions, and then footage of her reacting to that. I wonder how many it would take her to cease breathing from the exponential hilarity. Something tells me not very many at all.
Rapping. The woman who wrote "Jolene," "I Will Always Love You," several dead-baby jams in the early part of her career, and the rhythm of "9 to 5" on her nails, is turning a new musical corner and rapping. In a white afro. On the talk show of a woman who was once among the greatest rappers of her time.