Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Music Stars Hit Different Notes

It was worth sitting through the too-long (as usual) Oscars telecast.  Lady Gaga was truly terrific as she proved her true artistry performing a medley of songs from The Sound of Music.  She was in amazing voice, revealing a new power we'd not heard before, she was sweetly poised and confident. What a great surprise on last weekend's Academy Awards.                                                                                                
The best part -- she committed to the truth of each song and sang each song with reverence.  She was not being ironic or mocking the material.  There was no snark. There were no unnecessary, show-off vocal gymnastics as if she was a finalist on American Idol.  She sang to promote the beloved Rodgers & Hammerstein work.  Lady Gaga was luminous and wowed the crowd with her heartfelt renditions.  Her gorgeously orchestrated The Sound of Music medley was an Oscars telecast highlight.
And then there was there moment that made us go "OhMyGosh!"  Lady Gaga introduced the former Best Actress Oscar winner who earned her second consecutive Oscar nomination for starring in the famous box office blockbuster version of the Broadway hit.  20th Century Fox's  The Sound of Music starred singer/dancer/actress Julie Andrews.  Dame Julie was a beautiful picture of class, grace, wit and elegance Sunday night.  Julie Andrews makes 79 look great.
Julie Andrews, having become a Broadway star in the original productions of My Fair Lady and Camelot, won the Best Actress Oscar for her first feature film, Disney's Mary Poppins (1964).
The Sound of Music made her an international movie star.  The 1965 classic is still quite popular.

I've watched the Oscars on TV ever since I was a kid.  I love the Oscars.  I get as excited about Oscar night as I do about Christmas.  Over the years, surely in recent years, the show seems to have lost a sense of warmth and regard for the history of film and its artists.  Case in point:  The special lifetime achievement Oscars are now given in a separate ceremony.  This year, we saw brief soundbite clips of the acceptance speeches from recipients Maureen O'Hara and Harry Belafonte.  I would've loved to hear more of Belafonte's speech.  He was a close friend to Dr. Martin Luther King.  He marched with Dr. King.  He was with him for the March on Washington.  He booked and interviewed Dr. King on NBC's The Tonight Show when Belafonte sat in for Johnny Carson one week in early 1968.  He sat next to Mrs. Coretta Scott King that same year during the funeral for her slain civil rights leader husband.  This year, SELMA was a nominee for Best Picture.  I would loved more from Harry Belafonte and less lame comedy bits from Neil Patrick Harris about a locked briefcase.  And I like Harris.  But that illustrates the show's hunger to be hip while starving the viewers of true humanity.

The moment between Lady Gaga and Julie Andrews was the kind of tender and memorable moment we used to expect every year on the Oscars.  It was rich in respect and affection.  Two different generations showed a lovely and true regard for each other's contributions.  Brava, Gaga.

Days before the Oscars on ABC, we saw the Grammys on CBS.  Madonna dressed as a toreador and surrounded herself with shirtless, musclebound bull dancers.  She sang to promote herself and her new album.  Her number was calculated to be edgy.

Two modern-day music stars hit different notes in their performances, in more ways than one.  Here's Lady Gaga, who wore some outlandish and attention-grabbing pop music star outfits in the past, on the Oscars telecast Sunday night.  She's 20-something.
Here's Madonna on the red carpet before the Grammys telecast.  She's 50-something.

Two different looks from pop stars of two different generations.  Thanks again, Lady Gaga.  Loved your performance.

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