Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Miss Chatelaine and other illusions

Would you have a little trouble believing this is k. d. lang? I do. It's from her infamous Ingenue album, which still ranks as (I think) the best of its kind (as if there is anyone else in that category).

Here she looks like an unusually attractive man in drag, or maybe a transsexual. She always did have aspects of beauty that she played on, like great cheekbones and a smile like the sunny slopes of her native Alberta. She could flip back and forth from exotically androgynous to just plain butch.

Here she reminds me, bizarrely, of January Jones in Mad Men, girl-next-door with a bit of sultry glamour thrown in. She could almost pass as Audrey Hepburn's aunt.

And here she is playing Loretta Young, probably the only time she has ever worn a prom dress.

Now comes the hard part. Here is k. d. performing the same song, Miss Chatelaine, a few years ago in Dublin. The raucous crowd sings along with her as she camps it up in a baggy white suit that really does resemble Wayne Newton's pajamas. 


Turn, turn, kick, kick!  k. d. has always danced during her songs - if you can call her boisterous knee-lifting and uninhibited little-kid-on-the-playground twirls dancing. But here she looks like a whole thundering herd. It's unfortunate.

I don't like to see great performers become parodies of themselves. All that thudding around barely resembles the girlish whirling-dervish moves of fifteen years ago. We don't expect time to stand still, but couldn't someone (for God's sake) dress her once in a while, or at least show her a video of herself? Beyond the screams and catcalls from the audience, I was deeply dismayed to hear that she wasn't singing very well. She was flat. This was something I hoped I'd never hear.

OK. So maybe she's Wayne Newton's. . . great-nephew?