Monday, October 12, 2009

October 13

Okay, breaking a rule tonight, but it's too good a chance to pass up. If your baby was born on October 13, they have a better than average chance of being an exceptional singer. If they don't look the part, so much the better. Here's three examples:

Nana Mouskouri
is one of the most popular singers you've probably never heard of. You may think this is my usual hyperbole, but how many other artists do you know in the 200 million sold range? On the plus side, she recently retired after a 50-year career, singing in 14 different languages (including her native Greek.) On the other hand, she has those 'substitute kindergarten teacher' glasses, and her songs tend to make soft rock sound like, well, rock. Plus, she was born with only one vocal cord; that's what makes the vibrato in her voice.
Here's a performance on a French TV show. Don't know why her entrance music is "Guantanamera":

The world sure could have used Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan after his death in 1997. Besides being Pakistan's biggest recording artist ever, he was the voice of Qawwali, from the Sufi branch of Islam - and the world could have certainly used a reminder that there's more than one way or another in Islam. His style garnered many Western admirers including Eddie Vedder, Alanis Morrisette, and Peter Gabriel.
Here's a duet with Peter Gabriel, live in concert:

Our third phenomenal singer born today is Paul Potts. Remember what I told you guys about Kurt Nilsson? (If not, click here.) Well, by the time Paul Potts auditioned for Britain's Got Talent, they got it right.
I'll explain in a moment. First, here's the moment that started it all for Paul...

The first ten times I watched this, I cried and laughed. I bet you did, too.
How do you sell a pop-saturated public on an extraordinary voice with an ordinary face? With a story arc I call the "three-minute underdog."
You don't have to be a music fan to appreciate this:
- a common schlub steps up to the spotlight, surrounded by jeers;
- Schlub opens his mouth and delivers something miraculous;
- the critics fall over themselves with apologies and praise.
It's the kind of story you expect in the movies, even makes your eyes roll when you see it coming. For some reason, realizing it's happening in real life (as real as a television program can be,) where it never happens, makes it ten times as potent. It worked for Susan Boyle the following season. It worked for America's Got Talent winner Neal Boyd, who not only won with the same story, but the same exact song. If I was a producer of American Idol, I'd be looking for a singer in a wheelchair with a five-octave range. Money in the bank...

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