Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Scarlett Johansson's Music Career Offends Me

I just took a little trip through the snippets of Scarlett Johansson's debut recording, "Anywhere I Lay My Head (Deluxe Edition)," courtesy of iTunes. She has got some nerve putting out this dreck! We all agree Tom Waits is a genius and that many of his songs would soar with a more "conventional" voice singing them, for example "Jersey Girl" in the hands of Springsteen or even "Downtown Train" as performed by Rod Stewart.

There are many examples (Linda Ronstadt on "Old Paint," The Eagles' version of "Ol' 55"). Waits own recordings are challenging and excellent, not many of them are alike, and he shows no signs of slowing down either in productivity or in his intense creative/business vibes. I had minimal dealings w/him when I worked at Island but the compilation I promoted, "Beautiful Maladies," compiles a lot of his weirder albums and would serve as a good intro to the man's music, as opposed to the millennial's Molly Ringwald.

I don't appreciate Scarlett Johansson very much as a movie star, already felt she was very overrated and a big reason was her deep and often monotone voice. This album might have been fun for them to make but it sure is not fun to listen to. As my friend Cheech would often say, "what is the purpose of this music?" If it gets some young people into the great Tom Waits, then hats off to Scarlett Johansson, but I'm not buying it.

In fact, this album is offensive to me because even though it is an indie movie star and Tom Waits, "Anywhere I Lay My Head (Deluxe Edition)" is no different from any co-branded, American Idol-style debut recording these days. We are only interested because of her name recognition, and judging by a few minutes with the album, there is not much more to appreciate. Who wants a techno Tom Waits?

Maybe Scarlett Johansson was signed for her ability to sell t shirts, get a GOOD band into a cool movie she is star of, generate alternative revenue streams or just general publicity, and I am offended by an industry that clamors for her. Maybe it just shows how dismal it is for new artists in general. Who wants to write or even worse, fund something that won't make a dent in the media or the bottom line?

Entertainment Weekly has a good bad review here and also provides a link to watch Scarlett on MTV here. She uses a music stand to remember lyrics but has a snazzy "S" logo on projected on to the walls. Terrible.

Reuters' summary of negative critical response made me feel better. Seems like they will take the opportunity to bring her down a few pegs for doing this album.

Now playing: "Young Man's Blues" by The Who.


Matthew Ebel said...

God bless you, sir.

To quote Henry Rollins, "[The major labels] can't get it through their thick, greedy heads that they've been overcharging people for music for so many years and cranking out so many alarmingly mediocre, tepid records...why would you want to pay $22.50 in a strip mall for a fucking J-Lo record?

THAT'S crime."


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