507 American Idol
This corner of the world has never expressed appreciation for Sinatra because there isn't all that much to appreciate. But when compared to the current crop of American Idol contenders, Sinatra is (a) unsurpassed and (b) never could have won the competition.
Today's singers confuse raw emotion with thought. Sinatra understood the difference. So did Ed Ames and Al Martino. So do Tony Bennett and Roger Whittaker.
Watching "Idol" is a wrenching affair. The so-called singers are all emotion and no thought. They are all volume without tone. They are all in-your-face without subtlety.
Frankie couldn't hold a note after, say, 1960. It didn't matter. His performances projected the poetry of the lyrics and the emotion of the music. So did or do the others above mentioned.
Turn on "Idol," and you hear and see a microcosm of what's wrong with us. It's raw power of voice and raw power of emotion. No timing, no phrasing, no humanity, no humility, no message.
There's no power in raw power. Today's "idol" singers are Germany crossing into Poland. Think Vic Damone or Barry Manilow or Jack Jones are vapid and bland? You're wrong.
Sure, they're low key. But they're delivering a message about themselves and OURselves.
What message? The message that raw power does not directly equate with either conquest or conviction. The message that raw emotion is for the insane.
Could any of these old timers have won the final round of "Idol?" Not terribly likely. Not today. But conversely, could any of today's Idol winners be thought of as a future Sinatra or Bennett?
Absurd. Of course not!
Sure, times change. So do tastes and styles.
But music is music and not music is not music.
If you like raw and immature and un-accomplished mock poetry in your songs, by all means, enjoy.
Otherwise, start writing music and lyrics that coordinate more easily with the real human experience.
--What does it say about a doctor's office when you wait forever and a day for an "appointments secretary?" Probably the office doesn't run well. But the background music is good and identifiable: "The Young and the Restless" by Percy Faith, "Sail Along Silvery Moon by Billy Vaughn, "Hey There" by David Rose, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by the 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett and "Walking in Rhythm" by the Living Strings.
--It's been about 24 years since the end of WRFM Radio. But the titles and artists stick in your head. Amazing what you retain -- and what you don't.
--It's February. When the "appointments secretary" finally answered, there was nothing open until May. I will find this doctor when she's shopping and cut ahead of her on the checkout line.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®