Friday 10 January 2014

It's only a matter of time until SHE is a Dame so if you can't beat ', I will never join 'em.

Happy New Year loyal followers and any newbies who have decided to partake of this prattle. With the New Year comes the New Year's Honours lists and FINALLY everyone's favourite mezzo and Welsh sweetheart, Katherine Jenkins, has bagged herself an OBE *Incompetent Soprano punches the air*.

Ever since this blonde bombshell exploded onto the classical music scene *coughs* I have had an unhealthy obsession with her abilities (or lack thereof - no, that is not entirely fair, she does have abilities). Had she become famous around 1980 I would, no doubt, have loved her (see my last post here to find out why). With her beautiful blonde hair and winning smile I would have dreamed about being her when I grew up. However, one performing arts degree and a stint on the Guildhall's Opera Course later, it takes more than a good head of hair and a pretty face to impress me.

Before we go any further this is not intended to be a character assassination of Miss Jenkins. I am, thankfully, past the irrational dislike and air of wonder at HOW this woman became famous as a singer. I get it, I see why. I still don't particularly like it but I have no real feelings about her as a person.

I spent the Christmas period near Blackpool, at my parents house, and on the long drive from the south side of the M25 then the M40, M42, M6 and M55 I listened to Radio 2 all the way there. On this day Robbie Williams was sitting in for someone and was presenting a three hour show (and smashing it was too). During the course of the show he talked to the comedian Jimmy Carr about "Mrs Brown's Boys" (which subsequently got the highest tv viewing figures for Christmas Day, beating all the soaps) and the subject of the delightful popular music combo "One Direction" came up. Neither of the two men speaking on the radio particularly enjoy the comedy produced in "Mrs Brown's Boy" but that is because it is "not for them". They spoke of how grown men get ridiculously angry at how successful the One Direction boys have become, how terrible their music is and how there are better groups out there. Why they get SO angry about them bemused Mr Williams and Mr Carr because, again, One Direction is not meant for grown men. As Robbie Williams went on to point out, "you don't hate Dora because she's gone off exploring again do you?" (Or words to that effect) Because she is not for you! 

That is now the way I am trying to think of Our Kath. I have no problem with her, because she is not for me. She does not produce music for the likes of me she is meant for people who know very little about classical music. She is merely an introduction to the genre.

I made myself listen to some of Miss Jenkins back catalogue before writing this and, if I am totally honest, her sound is not horrible. However, to my, allegedly, trained ear it is bland. It is all about keeping the sound sweet and smooth with no thought whatsoever put into what she is singing about. I also have a small issue with the likes of La Jenkins taking a well known pop song and translating it into Italian to make it sound, I imagine, more classical. To me, it sounds silly.

There is no doubt that Miss Jenkins' stunning looks have aided her in having the career she has had. And why shouldn't she have used what the universe gave her to further this career? If I had been blessed with movie star looks maybe I would be further along by now, maybe not, we will never know. Please believe me, I write none of this out of envy I truly do think "good for her". I admire the way she has not rested on her laurels. She could quite easily have hoodwinked the public into simply buying a new album every year and sung in the odd Royal Variety Performance but she hasn't done this. She took part in a successful tour with Darcey Bussell a few years back and I remember part of it being shown on my telly box. In one number both Jenkins and Bussell were dancing at the same time and I remember thinking that Jenkins was giving Bussell a run for her money. She also came second in the US version of Strictly. Have a look at this link here to see her in, quite impressive, action.

Now, all that said, it is great that there is someone out there attempting to get people interested in classical music however, there are better singers out there who are equally as beautiful. I was at college with two girls who are having very successful opera careers but have the looks to make themselves superstars should they choose to use them. That statement I just made is the problem. Why oh why is it always about looks? *reading audience taps Incompetent Soprano on the shoulder* "what about SuBo?", you ask.

Ah yes, SuBo (or Susan Boyle for the uninitiated). Well she is not a classical singer and has never said she is. She is bringing a different sort of music to a different, unsuspecting audience. She, along with Paul Potts, is at the other end of the scale. People who have a talent you don't expect them to have because they don't look like they could possibly be good at anything (I put myself in this category so I am allowed to say that). I remember where I was when SuBo first graced our telly boxes and I remember what I thought. I was on tour with "The Witches of Eastwick" (with Marti Pellow, oh yes!) and we were at the Birmingham Hippodrome. It was the interval and I was dressed in my "Dance with the Devil" outfit (red hot pants and fishnet stockings, you'd better believe it). We, ensemble girls (and superstar Jo Kirkland) were watching Britain's Got Talent and SuBo made her entrance. We all had the expected reaction, all ready to laugh at this funny looking woman singing. And then she began. We were all suitably surprised and bowled over by the fact she actually could sing. 

But that was just it. Yes she could sing but she is not a great singer. The public is still believing she is a good singer because she has a fantastic management company backing her and people writing plays about her (exactly the same can be said for Paul Potts). This does not make her a good singer. It does, however, make her a phenomenon and I think we (well, some of us) like to be swept up and taken on a "journey" with these people because it could so easily have been any one of us.

I digress (what a surprise I hear you cry), the thing about Katherine Jenkins is she has had classical training (her Italian is still not great though) and she does have some idea about performing. I hate the fact, though, that the uneducated (musically) are being forced to believe that she is the best we have to offer. She isn't. She is good at what she does but it has nothing whatsoever to do with classical music and even less to do with opera. *Incompetent Soprano let's out a sigh of relief at having finally got that off her chest*

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