Wednesday, 12 November 2008


My Dear Sweet Harmonious Darlings, Irrespective of category or style music has a miraculous ability to transport you out of your world; it may act as catalyst for the expression of your suppressed and puzzling emotions it may enable you to dream of departing the confines of your human condition, it may even encourage you to move your body to the funky beat. Orchestra, band, trio or solo act all are capable of metamorphosing instrument or voice into a beautiful and inexplicably wondrous language of transformation; as a result the performers of great music are often admired, esteemed and rewarded for their attempts to enrich the world of melody.

Predictably your petty differences and social hierarchies choose to esteem some music over others. Music becomes a tribal signifier demonstrating a notion of cultural superiority and assists in the self deception that you are the possessor of ‘good taste’. Some may fanatically follow a band at the cost of all others. Others may diminish some for the inability to select music that they define as ‘good’. Some may even chastise a generation for the absence of music they deem unfit for human consumption. Others simply value the technical achievement of a guitar solo where some may connect with the emotional expression communicated by a human voice in song.

As you would expect I would never demean another for their musical taste, I may not connect with your favourite musician or singer but I would never dream of suggesting that you were less able to identify ‘good’ music because you choose not to enjoy my preferred selection of audible delights. Music is utterly and completely subjective entwined with memory and personal experience, as unique as finger print or DNA.

As with most of your culture the ability to entertain in this marvellous way has been packaged, sold and marketed, as a consequence a multi billion pound industry has evolved. The capability to connect with humanity in a unique and special way through music has created mythical mega-stars and understandably many of you attempt to get in on the act.

In a world of instant gratification and immediate reward there are some whose need for cultural acceptance and limitless fortune gained by vast musical success is overwhelming. The utterly deranged amongst you already believe you are a star just waiting to rise, you think the world will be enriched by your musical contributions. And so you embark on your own personal route to sweet success. You may frantically enter talent shows to prove your worth, believing that you are capable of becoming an international star, being adored and admired for your perceived talents. One current destination for such proceedings is ITV’s ‘The X Factor’. Some of you wholeheartedly believe that you deserve the ‘transformative’ experience of cultural recognition so much of your population queue for hours in the rain to display your ‘talents’ to a panel of judges.

And so begins the exploitation of the meek and mentally challenged a plethora of sociopathic lunatics screech and holler in endless auditions, jumping through emotional hoops to prove their worth. Revealing personal tragedy and challenge to a drama hungry audience. The few contestants that survive the belittlement and humiliation are then deemed worthy of performing live to huge prime time audiences. A cast of childlike misfits, social rejects and pop star wannabes are forced punch drunk and bewildered onto a professional stage. Some will be loved others despised as each transforms before your eyes into a manufactured pop-starlet.

Weekly themed performances and perfunctory evictions whittle down the cast of warblers to what is believed to be the pinnacle of performers. In an additional cruelty and as if to tease the desperate clambering amateurs with promised success the show’s producers regularly wheel out bona fide pop stars. in the most recent episode Mariah Carey (top) deigned to honour the show with her presence. One must assume that the program makers anticipated that the attendance of Ms Carey would inspire the debutantes into delivering the performance of a life time though unexpectedly Ms Carey revealed the travesty of her iconic standing as legendary Diva. Her performance of a song I cannot remember was so unbelievably underwhelming that this ‘legend’ had no more presence than a cardboard cut-out, teetering on heels in which she could barely walk and sewn into a dress she could hardly move in, she inexplicably revealed the inadequacies of her ‘Diva’s’ status and called into question the very industry these youngsters are clamouring to be a part of.

As contestant, judge and presenter laid undeserved praise on to the highly polished shoulders of Ms Carey the whole pop landscape appeared to crumble with the unexpected eviction of Laura White (above) widely believed to be a favourite to win the ‘coveted’ title of ‘The X Factor’ champion. Subsequently outrage has followed and campaigns are afoot to reinstate one of the few potentially talented contestants, though of course this is the nature of the beast, shock, revelation and drama everyday fodder at the cost of the dim witted contestants that place their heads on the chopping block of Saturday night TV.

What this episode unexpectedly revealed was the qualitative closeness of the amateur and professional. Ms Carey has spent several years happily inhabiting Diva status and as a result has jettisoned her uniqueness, she is now just a shell of her former self and has forgotten the desperation that fuelled her earlier performances which originally enabled her to escape her own modest beginnings, regrettably she is now guilty of continuously re-enacting the egomaniacal persona of ‘Mariah Carey’.In contrast the contestants of ‘The X factor’ are still just moments from the gutter, the threat of violent ejection onto the streets they came from imminent, each fights savagely for survival. Most are appalling but some female voices have been able to emote the feeling of their own personal journey and on Saturdays show the distance between professional and amateur shrank. These women miraculously performed the determination to maintain a dream they believe can only be granted by the all powerful ‘X Factor’, this reality is questionable but the authenticity of vocal performance contrasted starkly with the contrived and cynical performance of Ms Carey.

True Diva status is informed by an inexplicable and amorphous performance of authenticity. Truth in performance goes beyond all categories and is present in such individuals that are generally considered to possess greatness. Even in the defunct realms of the talent show potential Divas have been revealed, Leona Lewis (above), Jennifer Hudson just two examples. Some may baulk at the suggestion that these voices are worthy of Diva status though they have managed to articulately express the misery of contemporary life in a modern context more successfully than Mariah Carey, whose amnesia has deemed her mute in the expression of anything other than her contempt for you the public that persist in buying her vacuous product.

From Judy Garland to Billie Holiday (above) many have inspired the docile by communicating versions of their own personal hell. You so desperately need beacons of hope in your emotional turmoil, some form of comfort in the dark, where better to attain such consolation than in the tender tones of a beautifully authentic human voice in song.

Much Love as Always Ms Coco LaVerne x