Re: Voted "Best All-Around" in the Yearbook

1

I like it when Janelle MonĂ¡e rhymed alligator with little rattlesnaker but I don't if that puts her on par with Michael Jackson.


Posted by: Andy R. | Link to this comment | 07-30-11 11:38 PM
horizontal rule
2

Prince, surely.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 12:12 AM
horizontal rule
3

I LOVE janelle monae but she needs about 8-10 more amazing records before we start having this conversation. mj really was an astounding dancer, and singer, but if we're throwing all this song-writing and producing into the mix, and start considering any "holy christ he can play the guitar" it's all about prince.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 1:34 AM
horizontal rule
4

but am I really just going to diss james brown like that? james brown is incomparable, and apparently and amazing (if terrifying) band director. still, we going with prince.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 1:36 AM
horizontal rule
5

Yeah, James Brown, definitely. Brown over Jackson any day of the week. Brown had what, 15-20 years?, at the top of his game, making exciting innovative music that pushed forward the boundaries of what was possible in popular music at the time. He was much more involved on the creative side of things than Jackson as a writer and bandleader, and he was also a business pioneer, too. Brown ran his own career in a way that was rare for black artists at the time.

Jackson, on the other hand, made what, two good albums? 3 at a push? The 'good' Jackson period only lasts about 6-7 years, from Off the Wall through to (arguable) Bad. Followed by decades of woeful shit. And how much of what's good/interesting about those records is Quincy Jones? Fantastic dancer/performer, yes, but he's not _that_ much of a singer, either. I'm not damming him, there's some really fantastic songs, and he sounds great on them. But there's also a lot of stuff where he sounds shrill, and like little more than a collection of vocal tics. Did he do anything after the mid to late 80s that was good? I can't think of any.

You could make a pretty good case for Smokey Robinson as producer/writer/performer. He's easily the best and most prolific writer of the people mentioned. Not only for himself -- obligatory Bob Dylan quote goes here* -- but also as one of the main in-house Motown writer/producers (and Motown vice-president) he's responsible for some of the best work of other artists. In fact, it'd be hard to think of a better and more prolific songwriter in the history of popular music, tbh. Also, his voice at it's peak was a thing of beauty.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLOB6B6vMTY

That could almost be a 70s Philly record -- the Chi-Lites, or Delfonics -- except it's from 1965.

And just for the sake of it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coh7n6dYj5Y
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWt4Hz1KGcQ

or some Little Anthony/Jimmy Scott style ethereal falsetto doo-wop action:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwtU73LdqFg


* the gist of which is, some sycophantic journalist asked Dylan what it was like to be America's greatest living poet, and he said, 'I don't know, you'll have to ask Smokey Robinson'.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 2:45 AM
horizontal rule
6

And definitely Prince over Jackson, no comparison.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 2:45 AM
horizontal rule
7

Erk, 5 is longer than I thought.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 2:47 AM
horizontal rule
8

Awesome. Smokey Robinson is a great way to start off a Sunday morning.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 5:30 AM
horizontal rule
9

But Dad, it's Smokey!

(Last video on the page. Go straight to 0:50 or so for the famous line.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 5:41 AM
horizontal rule
10

Hmm. Grumble. "Ever" is a very long time. Smokey, James Brown, and Prince clearly are in the running, but what about dead white males like George M. Cohan - different era, different media, but he was certainly an all-around all-star (sing, dance, choreograph,write, produce).


Posted by: bob | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 5:52 AM
horizontal rule
11

9: Bahaha.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 5:52 AM
horizontal rule
12

Smokey
James Brown/Prince in a tie
Janelle isn't close yet. But I love her.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 6:10 AM
horizontal rule
13

Great links, nattar!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 6:11 AM
horizontal rule
14

How much weight does each factor get? Because, depending, I think you've got at least to talk about Elvis.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 6:12 AM
horizontal rule
15

I think you've got at least to talk about Elvis.

Can't dance. Can't act. Can sing a little.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 6:18 AM
horizontal rule
16

How much weight does each factor get? Because, depending, I think you've got at least to talk about Elvis.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 6:27 AM
horizontal rule
17

9: His car is so perfectly '70s with the half-vinyl top and s"styling". Thought for a minute it was a Chrysler Cordoba, but window shape is not right. A scaled-down Buick or some other misguided Detroit attempt at a smaller "luxury" car.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 6:35 AM
horizontal rule
18

ttaM is right in 5. James Brown is so obviously the top in the genre we are focused on I don't know why we are having this discussion.

Now if you want to expand genres, may I suggest Gene Kelly? Singer, dancer, choreographer, director, actor...


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:19 AM
horizontal rule
19

Other possibilities: Johnny Cash, who can include TV talk show host among his skills, and Leadbelly.

How far back in history can we go? If we don't need direct recordings of performances, we could go with Mozart.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:35 AM
horizontal rule
20

I was thinking about people like Sinatra. Oscar-winning actor, music career that lasted decades. But not much of a song-writer (at all), and his musically creative period isn't really super long. The mid-to-late 50s Capital stuff is, I think, among the best stuff in all of popular music, but after the mid-60s he was a stale parody of his earlier self. That's not a bad run, I suppose. Longer than Jackson, and arguably Prince [whose best days, after all, are long behind him]. But the latter was, in his day, a great writer/producer/musician, and Sinatra was not.

Miles Davis? Arguably made interesting music for longer than anyone, and sparked at least two or three total shifts in an entire genre of music.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:35 AM
horizontal rule
21

ooh yeah, Miles Davis!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:39 AM
horizontal rule
22

Maybe someone who knows more about country music can suggest some? But Willie Nelson springs to mind. Or Kris Kristofferson? As song-writer, performer and actor. Dolly Parton, even?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:39 AM
horizontal rule
23

Miles Davis? Arguably made interesting music for longer than anyone, and sparked at least two or three total shifts in an entire genre of music.

Only an average dancer.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:39 AM
horizontal rule
24

I guess he couldn't sing or dance, though.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:40 AM
horizontal rule
25

Could barely speak. Was apparently a pretty fair boxer, though. So he might win the Michael Jackson/Miles Davis zombie cage fight.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:44 AM
horizontal rule
26

I think that including dancing in the mix will probably rule out most country singers.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
27

Rules Sinatra back in, though:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5TR38Pg6qA


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
28

That's it. You'd better bring it because it is on now.


Posted by: Opinionated Line Dancer | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 8:38 AM
horizontal rule
29

In country music I don't think anybody comes close to Willie Nelson for the depth and range of his creativity as a singer and songwriter (I'm actually working on another willie Nelson post at the moment). Mayby Ralph Stanley. If you want to include contributions as a band leader I'd think about Bill Monroe as well.

From motown I think Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye deserve to be in the conversation, though not necessarily ahead of Smokey.

What about George Clinton?

None of those people are known as dancers however.

I'd agree that Elvis has to be in the conversation.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
30

I don't really buy Elvis for this sort of thing. Not a writer, not someone in creative control of much of his own career, and any peak period when his music was good/interesting is pretty damn short. You could definitely argue for that short period being really influential, but that's not quite what people have in mind, is it?

What about Bowie? [As another person with a fairly sustained period of creative output, although I don't think any sane people are big fans of his acting.]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
31

You know who I'm forgetting, David Bowie -- singer, songwriter, actor, and, if not really a dancer he had a lot of visual creativity in designing a show.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:09 AM
horizontal rule
32

I think we should include being good-looking as a part of being an all-around performer, both in the sense of being able to project a sexy/compelling/interesting image on stage and in the sense of having physical features that are sexy, compelling or interesting. That would give Elvis a leg up.

I think Bjork should be in the conversation, too. She has talent as a producer/knob twiddler, singer, songwriter, and showwoman.

I don't think she can dance and I haven't seen any of her acting, though.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:09 AM
horizontal rule
33

I don't think any sane people are big fans of his acting.

It's a safe bet that he beats out Michael Jackson in this category, however.


Posted by: lurkey | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
34

Also, Sammy Davis Jr.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
35

Bowie also produced hit records for other people (Iggy Pop and Lou Reed), which should count for something.

And, darn it, he worked in the man who fell to earth. Not great acting, no, but still a good performance.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
36

||
Roberta and our 4-year-old were watching a movie about not judging a book by its cover, and afterward Roberta was talking to her about not judging people by the way they look. Her (very serious) response: "Okay, but mom: what about zombies?"
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
37

Laurie Anderson.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
38

Madonna?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
39

GWAR.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
40

Beyonce? She doesn't have the track record as a producer or songwriter as many of the people mentioned, but she also has more success as a movie actor than most.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:30 AM
horizontal rule
41

40: I'd say still being in your twenties rules you out of the race due to insufficient data. Plus, if Beyonce's in the running, then so is Will Smith and that would be ridiculous.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
42

re: 32.2

Yeah, I think Bjork is up there with anyone recent in terms of sustained creative output. From this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noXYiNo5TOo
to this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZhkfwrxNOc
is 24 years.

Or you could count this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yahaX0kB0wA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXKw3Y1Ie_E
and make it 34 years.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
43

Dancer in the Dark is, otoh, a pretty bad film,* but the things that make it bad are Lars von Trier things, rather than Bjork this.

* although it has its moments

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k72L2ZzfKT0


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:41 AM
horizontal rule
44

things.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:41 AM
horizontal rule
45

I saw a reference the other day to a gig in the early 1980s which had Miles Davies and New Order on the same bill.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:43 AM
horizontal rule
46

45: Those were the days, eh?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:49 AM
horizontal rule
47

Who should be in the running on the Latin front? Tito Puente? Ruben Blades? Gilberto Gil?

I ask because I have no real knowledge of the music.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
48

I think Dancer in the Dark is probably far more tolerable if you watch it as a comedy. I didn't get this until [extremely maudlin thing] happened near the end of the movie and I cracked up, and I didn't go back to test the hypothesis because really, what a steaming pile of filmic crap, but I suspect it is true.

As to the OP, I nominate Joan Crawford's character in Torch Song.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:59 AM
horizontal rule
49

Or Kris Kristofferson? As song-writer, performer and actor.

Kristofferson is a contender for baddest man on the planet. We're talking about a guy who prior to the whole show biz thing was a top notch rugby and football player, got his blue in boxing as a Rhodes scholar, and then flew helicopters in the Army.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:12 AM
horizontal rule
50

You know who I'm forgetting, David Bowie -- singer, songwriter, actor, and, if not really a dancer he had a lot of visual creativity in designing a show.

The first time I saw Bowie, his entire show was white face mime. He didn't sing or say a word. So there's that. Fortunately for posterity Havelock Vetinari wasn't in the audience.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:21 AM
horizontal rule
51

Caetano Veloso?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:22 AM
horizontal rule
52

Gil, surely. Because other people have been singers and songwriters and participated in creating an entirely new genre (bossa nova in his case), but few of them also ended up as cabinet ministers.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
53

That's it. You'd better bring it because it is on now.

Watch it, opinionated line dancer. I'm a mean 10 stepper, and not bad at the cotton eyed joe either. Partner or line versions.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
54

It's really hard to weight things equally if you're asking for best all-round performer rather than best musician: I tend to weight musicianship, including composition/production, pretty highly, and someone who's good at performing (to include dancing and choreography, on this definition) but isn't actually much of a musician doesn't get far in the ranking no matter how great he or she might be otherwise. That's the problem with Michael Jackson.

Anyway, Prince, David Bowie.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:27 AM
horizontal rule
55

Rfts and I have discussed how what Michael Jackson really needed in his career (other than, you know, a non-abusive father and a better therapist) was for the Hollywood musical not to have collapsed after the '60s. Can you have imagine Michael Jackson's An American in Paris?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:27 AM
horizontal rule
56

Jackson was in The Wiz, wasn't he? I don't know how the reviews on that were.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
57

54 will be funny.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
58

re: 45

John Lydon always claims that Miles Davis played at the sessions for 'Album' [which did also have Steve Vai, Jonas Hellborg, Tony Williams, Ginger Baker, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and others]. But, Lydon claims, they didn't use Davis' playing.

The other late-Davis super group thing is the Hot Spot soundtrack that Jack Nitzsche put together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzBQK2IBGm8

which is pretty great.

re: 49

Yeah. There's a great documentary about him, and after seeing it my opinion of Joan Baez [I didn't really have one before] became low. She was talking patronisingly about him like he was a hick idiot.

Yeah, the helicopter flying Rhodes scholar song-writing actor? That talentless idiot? The guy who wrote Help Make It Throught the Night, Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down, etc? What have you written, Baez?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
59

I guess my picks are really Prince and James Brown. Both of them intervened in a particular historical moment in pop music and created space for something that just didn't exist before--and more so in their performances, in what you could expect to see if you saw them, than in the music itself, which was also totally fantastic. They both reclaimed a piece of ground for perverts in public that had been lost since Little Richard stopped singing about buttsex.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
60

Watching the Cher video (which was linked in a recent Making Light thread linked here by Bob McManus), you have to say, there is somebody who loves performing.

To the OP, wikipedia notes

Referred to as the Goddess of Pop,[3][4][5] she has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globes and a Cannes Film Festival Award among others for her work in film, music and television. She is the only person in history to have received all of these awards. . . . She is the only artist to reach number one on the Billboard charts in each of the previous six decades, and also holds this record for four and five decades.
.

Also, would you say that Cher or Dianna Ross was more successful at embracing their status as a queer icon (I love the audience cut-away shot at 0:24 of this video)?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
61

re: 60

Unlike a lot of acting singers, Cher can really act, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
62

56 - The movie version was pretty universally reviled, causing screenwriter Joel Schumacher to end a promising Hollywood career and become a film critic for Newsweek.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
63

ok, here's my list

1. Gene Kelly
2. James Brown
3. Leadbelly
4. Gilberto Gill
5. Laurie Anderson.

This basket contains apples, oranges, and some fruit I don't really know much about.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
64

62 - Also, director Sidney Lumet, who had achieved commercial success with movies like Sweet Sweetback's Badassss Song and Scream, Blacula, Scream, ended his career making car ads, although he was cited as an influence by later black directors such as Spike Lee and Gore Verbinski.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
65

I didn't know much about Cher before watching a bunch of youtube videos just now, but I do think she's a serious contender. Beyond that, I think 59 basically gets it right, but I'd probably vote for James Brown and David Bowie rather than Brown and Prince.

Also, the wikipedia entry for "Gay Icon" isn't as entertaining as you might hope (not nearly as entertaining as the Barry Manilow page, for example) but this picture of, "Cyndi Lauper performed in a rainbow dress at the closing ceremonies of Gay Games VII" is pretty amazing, and I do like the pull quote from Rufus Wainwright

Madonna subverts everything for her own gain. I went to see her London show and it was all so dour and humourless. She surpasses even Joan Crawford in terms of megalomania. Which in itself makes her a kind of dark, gay icon... I love Kylie, she's the anti-Madonna. Self-knowledge is a truly beautiful thing and Kylie knows herself inside out. She is what she is and there is no attempt to make quasi-intellectual statements to substantiate it. She is the gay shorthand for joy.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
66

Ry Cooder.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
67

This is a hard topic for me to weigh in on because I find almost always find musical performances pretty boring. You're just standing there staring at the back of other people's heads.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
68

I thought Melvin van Peebles directed Sweet Sweetback?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
69

Also, director Sidney Lumet, who had achieved commercial success with movies like Sweet Sweetback's Badassss Song

???

It was a commercial failure directed by Melvin van Peebles.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
70

Scream Blackula Scream was by Bob Kelljan.

I'm pretty sure the director of 12 Angry Men and Network never worked in Blacksploitation.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
71

Sidney Lumet didn't make Scream, Blacula, Scream, either, and that Schumacher kid finally made it in Hollywood. Sorry, I was just riffing on the fact that The Wiz killed the "black movie" market for more than ten years while some of the people involved didn't see their careers suffer, although I can't put my finger on what the key difference is.

Although to Parsi's question, Michael Jackson's acting and dancing were considered the only good things about The Wiz (Diana Ross and the screenplay were panned).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
72

Embarrassingly enough, I never actually associated Gordon Parks, the WPA photographer who took "American Gothic, Washington D.C." with the Gordon Parks who made "Shaft" until someone made a comment about it last week.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
73

God help me and hide the blunt objects if I have to hear gay men go on about Kylie Minogue.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
74

64 went right over my head!

But speaking of Melvin van Peebles, if you ever get the chance to see Story of a 3-Day Pass, don't pass it up.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 10:59 AM
horizontal rule
75

57: 54 will be funny.

?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
76

Oh My!

(Cher, from 1981, on the Tonight Show. Not what I would I call good music, but amazing, completely over the top camp. It's worth watching all the way through. Each time you think they've sort of settled down into a somewhat normal performance there's something else fabulous.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
77

Sorry, I was just riffing on the fact that The Wiz killed the "black movie" market for more than ten years while some of the people involved didn't see their careers suffer, although I can't put my finger on what the key difference is.

This could potentially explain my immense confusion at calling Gore Verbinski a black director, unless I'm missing something regarding his public persona.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
78

How exactly to gay men choose their icons? Is there a secret meeting where everyone votes?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
79

I've seen Van Peebles' Watermelon Man, which honestly is pretty terrible (although the final scene must have been pretty exhilarating for audiences in 1970).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:04 AM
horizontal rule
80

77 - I was trying to think of Hollywood's least black director, and I'm embarrassed to say that neither "Woody Allen" nor "Whit Stillman" came to mind first.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:04 AM
horizontal rule
81

Story of a 3-Day Pass subtle and well observed - pretty different from some of the later stuff.

At the showing where I saw it, I was part of a handful of people who went out for a drink with the director, who proceeded over the course of an hour or so to proposition most of the women in the group. He met with no success.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
82

You didn't think he was cute, Blume?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
83

nor "Whit Stillman" came to mind first

Harlem had some great lines: "Watch out, he's a Garveyist!"


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
84

He's a bit old for me!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
85

Surely there's got to be someone in musical theater to put in the discussion?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
86

85: Bob Fosse?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
87

Many would consider Judy Garland a good candidate. I've never really gotten the Judy thing, but certainly she was formidable in many areas and a devoutly beloved performer.


Posted by: Opinionated Ambivalent Gay | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:48 AM
horizontal rule
88

Cab Calloway! Award should be /named/ for him.

Cher might be the objective winner, looking through this; I had no idea.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:48 AM
horizontal rule
89

I love Bob Fosse. Also love Cher. Also Barbra Streisand, who is just outstanding even though she doesn't dance and her hairdo has been questionable at times; but partnered with Kris Kristofferson for a while, which counts.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:49 AM
horizontal rule
90

Melvin van Peebles is a pretty interesting guy. Probably hard to find, but I can recommend two of his books: A Bear for the FBI and A True American. According to Wikipedia he (at 78) has been doing shows with members of Burnt Sugar billed as Melvin van Peebles wid Laxative, because they "make shit happen."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
91

Gregory Hines is an amazing dancer. (I associated him with Bob Fosse for some reason.) I'm beginning to mourn the loss of these people now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:59 AM
horizontal rule
92

I though Van Peebles had something to do with Putney Swope but apparently not. It was directed by Robert Downey Jr.'s father. I wonder if he consulted on Tropic Thunder.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
93

God help me and hide the blunt objects if I have to hear gay men go on about Kylie Minogue.

Wasn't she the musician on SNL when Gandalf Magneto Ian McKellen was on? She is even smaller than the usual pop tart.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 12:03 PM
horizontal rule
94

92: I KNOW WHO I AM! I'M A DUDE PLAYIN' A DUDE DISGUISED AS ANOTHER DUDE!


Posted by: OPINIONATED SGT. LINCOLN OSIRIS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
95

Being selfish, doesn't anybody else find the video in 76 astonishing? It's just . . . words fail me.

I don't even know if it's good, but I'm definitely impressed, if that makes sense.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
96

re: 93

Australian soap opera star who initially had a string of cheesy manufactured UK pop hits in the late 80s, early 90s. Her later singles had quite a bit more critical acclaim, and are pretty good. She also duetted with Nick Cave.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tERnTxciar4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xSLpoQdRrU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjTY8ildtFU [with Nick Cave]

And yeah, she's tiny.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 12:19 PM
horizontal rule
97

I heard Melvin van Peebles do the closing monologue in Einstein on the Beach, but that is exactly all I know of him.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
98

95: I'm sure it's someone's fantasy. I held on until she started singing.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
99

One person I haven't seen mentioned in this conversation but who probably should be is Ray Charles (a great performer, though obvs not a MJ like dancer).

But basically, Prince, and Ttam gets it right in 5.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 2:40 PM
horizontal rule
100

NickS, yes, the video in 76 is astonishing. It resoundingly answers the question of what she is going to do in those shoes.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 2:50 PM
horizontal rule
101

And speaking of Janelle Monae, I was at this and it was pretty awesome.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 3:02 PM
horizontal rule
102

For dead white guy in the running, I vote Fred Astaire. And for living white guy, Bruce Springsteen.

But I'd take James Brown, Prince, Smokey, or Ray Charles over either one.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 3:15 PM
horizontal rule
103

i'm glad someone mentioned george clinton. i can appreciate james brown, but i rarely really need to listen to him. i don't really like polish.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 6:20 PM
horizontal rule
104

I suppose if Neil Patrick Harris formed an indie rock band, he'd be in the running. Go, Doogie!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:15 PM
horizontal rule
105

76 is fabulously campy. Love it.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:20 PM
horizontal rule
106

Was trying to think of anyone from Arabic music that would qualify. Pretty much would have to be Umm Kulthum.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 7:31 PM
horizontal rule
107

Was Bowie ever known for being a great live performer? He had a great style and persona, and voice, but it seems like a stretch to even mention him along with Prince or James Brown. I mean, here's a clip of him doing a great version of one of my favorite of his songs, from one of his top periods, and the performance doesn't seem that special.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 8:37 PM
horizontal rule
108

That is, here's the Bowie clip.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 8:38 PM
horizontal rule
109

the performance doesn't seem that special.

Are you kidding, that's a fantastic performance! I haven't watched that much video of Bowie live, but that's one of the best that I've seen.

But, no, Bowie's never had the reputation for being a remarkable performer*. I think that's partially because his music is so carefully constructed that it doesn't lend itself to improvisation live.

* though I remember seeing a clip from a BBC special from the mid-seventies which talked about the hordes of screaming girls at his shows, so clearly he had a certain charisma live.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:03 PM
horizontal rule
110

By the way, if you like Ziggy Stardust era Bowie, you should absolutely get Live in Santa Monica '72, it's great.

I was actually thinking that the Bowie/Springsteen comparison is more interesting than I would have thought originally.

Both have had long, interesting, influential careers. Bowie is slightly more influential, Springsteen has been slightly more commercially successful.

Springsteen is a better musician, Bowie is a better producer.

Springsteen is a much better live performer, Bowie is a much better songwriter and singer.

I'd pick Bowie because IMO, I just think he has a significantly more substantial body of (recorded) work, but I understand picking Springsteen if you though that liver performance was the more important criterion.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:18 PM
horizontal rule
111

liver performance was the more important criterion

By that measure, Shane MacGowan is easily the greatest of all time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:23 PM
horizontal rule
112

No, I totally agree, it's a great version of a great song, just not something that made me think of a James Brown at the Apollo level performance or anything.

In other NickS news, I saw Steely Dan recently and have kind of lost my fandom. Turns out that they're boring perfectionists with no soul, not genius level masters of irony.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:23 PM
horizontal rule
113

Ah. I thought "performance" meant live performance, or at least a stage show.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:31 PM
horizontal rule
114

liver performance was the more important criterion

By that measure, Shane MacGowan is easily the greatest of all time.

while he's easily in the running, there is certainly some stiff competition.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:44 PM
horizontal rule
115

also, there are some serious race/class standards being used here.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 9:44 PM
horizontal rule
116

60,61: ugh, can't stand Cher. Proof that camp = bad taste. A decades long career of mediocricy.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 07-31-11 11:58 PM
horizontal rule
117

106: Pretty much would have to be Umm Kulthum.

Did she do much beside sing, though?

And Kristofferson may have been a rotorhead, but Oliver Stone was a LRRP. Advantage: Stone.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 1:25 AM
horizontal rule
118

'Harlem' had some great lines: "Watch out, he's a Garveyist!"

Heehee. God, I love that movie, and that line. The real one, I mean.


Posted by: trapnel | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 1:55 AM
horizontal rule
119

Oliver Stone was a LRRP

What, Oliver Stone wore fake armour and hung around in caves hitting his mates with a foam rubber battle-axe? That's fantastic.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 2:39 AM
horizontal rule
120

119: no, no, you're getting him mixed up with Werner Herzog.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 3:03 AM
horizontal rule
121

Herzog would insist on foam-rubber armour and a real battle-axe


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 3:35 AM
horizontal rule
122

TELL ME ABOUT IT!


Posted by: Opinionated Klaus Kinski | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 4:00 AM
horizontal rule
123

LRRPs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Range_Reconnaissance_Patrol


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 4:10 AM
horizontal rule
124

Name me one Michael jackson song with great lyrics.


Posted by: W. Kiernan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 6:00 AM
horizontal rule
125

"I am the damned! I am the dead! I am the agony inside a dying head!"


Posted by: King of Rock, Pop, Soul AND GOTH | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 6:37 AM
horizontal rule
126

124: Human Nature.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 6:52 AM
horizontal rule
127

Ah. I thought "performance" meant live performance, or at least a stage show.

We've been including studio production and movies all along. I took it to mean--all around best at entertaining people.

Springsteen's concerts are legendary, but they only get him points for music and storytelling. I'd like to see him give us some soft shoe.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 7:04 AM
horizontal rule
128

For dead white guy in the running, I vote Fred Astaire.

I was thinking about that. He's a better actor and singer than people give him credit for. Still, I've already nominated Gene Kelly repeatedly, and I think he is clearly more well rounded.

Who should we think about from Bollywood?

I will now check out Umm Kulthum.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 7:07 AM
horizontal rule
129

Does David Byrne produce things? He doesn't dance, exactly, but he is a pretty fun performer to watch.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 7:25 AM
horizontal rule
130

A fewe people I thought of that haven't been mentioned yet, I don't think.

Steve Martin -- stand-up comedian, actor, director, banjo picker, playwright, novelist etc.

Charlie Chaplin -- actor, director, composer.

Mick Jagger -- singer, songwriter, dancer


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 7:30 AM
horizontal rule
131

126: Heeber, please.

"Get me out into the nighttime
Four walls won't hold me tonight
If this town is just an apple
Then let me take a bite"

Also, not written by Michael Jackson.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 7:37 AM
horizontal rule
132

Who should we think about from Bollywood?

Bollywood actors lip sync the songs.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
133

Thanks for ruining Bollywood for me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
134

He's a better actor and singer than people give him credit for.

I thought he was a barely functional singer -- that "Cheek to Cheek" was written for him in an incredibly restricted range because he could only hit a couple of notes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 7:45 AM
horizontal rule
135

Janet Jackson is actually a much more plausible candidate for "best all around" than Michael. Long career, many solid albums, a creditable acting resume, great dancer, pretty good vocalist, great songwriter.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 7:55 AM
horizontal rule
136

Mick Jagger -- singer, songwriter, dancer

Oh perleeze! In that case I'm going to insist on Ringo - drummer, singer, songwriter, actor, director.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 7:58 AM
horizontal rule
137

136: I forgot to mention that Mick is an actor too!

Not a Rolling Stones fan, chris?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:00 AM
horizontal rule
138

Springsteen is a much better live performer, Bowie is a much better songwriter and singer.

Bowie as a better songwriter??? I'll have to give that some thought, but I have a hard time believing that he stacks up better than Bruce.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:01 AM
horizontal rule
139

138: A wider range of different kinds of songs? But I'm not a Springsteen fan at all -- I don't mind him more than anything else in whatever you call his genre, roughly, but my main reaction to Springsteen is "This is going to be loud."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
140

(Obviously, as previously noted, I don't actually have musical tastes and have no interest in defending the few vague preferences I've got.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:04 AM
horizontal rule
141

I'm still not sure I understand the goal of this exercise.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
142

Ringo - drummer, singer, songwriter, actor, director.

Mr. Conductor.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:12 AM
horizontal rule
143

142: Don't forget asshole.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:20 AM
horizontal rule
144

I just can't imagine thinking that Springsteen measures up to Bowie in any significant way.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
145

re: 138

It'd only personal taste, but shit yes. Bowie over Springsteen any day of the week. Of the fucking week. Just for emphasis.

I quite like Springsteen, but come on. Bowie's 10 - 12 year hot-streak is pretty unprecedented.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
146

Quite like maybe a bit strong. Like certain things quite a lot, find the vast bulk a bit 'meh'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:22 AM
horizontal rule
147

How can you not appreciate the irony in these lyrics?!?!?!


Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
'Til you spend half your life just covering up

[chorus:]
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

I got in a little hometown jam
And so they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to Vietnam
To go and kill the yellow man

[chorus]

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "Son if it was up to me"
I go down to see the V.A. man
He said "Son don't you understand"

[chorus]

I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a little girl in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years down the road
Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go

I'm a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:25 AM
horizontal rule
148

If this thread keeps going long enough, sooner or later someone is going to mention Elton John.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
149

Mostly because I can't tell what the words are beyond the chorus when I listen to the song. There's a reason everyone thinks it's patriotic -- if you have a copy of the lyrics to read, you wouldn't have any way of knowing what they were.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
150

Don't get me wrong: Bowie has some freaking amazing lyrics.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
151

Yeah. It's just not much to my personal taste. Eye-linered freaks over bombastic blue collar rock, any day. I do like the mid-70s Spector-ish stuff, and some of Nebraska, and similar things he's done in that vein. But, in general, it's not really for me.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
152

Throw a 'didn't' in there somewhere to make the sentence make sense, if you would?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
153

149:

Idiots think it is patriotic.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:28 AM
horizontal rule
154

Idiots and people who only heard the song rather than reading the lyrics.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:30 AM
horizontal rule
155

That said, he (Springsteen) isn't Mumford and Sons level of shite or anything.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:32 AM
horizontal rule
156

147: I actually reworked that song into a Wheel of Time fan song notmyproudestmoment.

Bruuuce over Bowie any day of the week preference wise, but the latter is surely more influential. Hard to think of any Springsteen imitators other than the Killers.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
157

As far as I know, no one in Nebraska has run a campaign trying to use music from Springsteen's Nebraska.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
158

101: Damn, that's a lot of talent on one stage.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
159

A fewe people I thought of that haven't been mentioned yet, I don't think.

Steve Martin -- stand-up comedian, actor, director, banjo picker, playwright, novelist etc.

Charlie Chaplin -- actor, director, composer.

Interesting. So far we've been basically looking a musicians and judging how well they branch out into other things. You get a whole different kind of person if you go another direction.

Really the conversation has grown by (shudder) analogy. We are looking for other people who are well rounded entertainers in the way that Michael Jackson and James Brown are credited for being well rounded entertainers.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
160

Starting with Michael Jackson includes something else that's sort of dropped out of the equation -- really, really massive popularity. Finding well rounded performers is going to be easier if you can go down the food chain to this incredibly talented guy you know who's a master juggler/tuba-player/conceptual artist/mime, but it's not really the same thing as a well-rounded performer who could also plausibly have been called the "King Of Pop".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
161

this incredibly talented guy you know who's a master juggler/tuba-player/conceptual artist/mime

Kind of an asshole, though.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
162

Yeah, there are a couple of ways that you might think about it the basic question. The way the thread has gone I can think about the following:

1) Who has had the most impressive entertainment career (in terms of breadth and significance of accomplishments). This isn't really the question that Stanley asked, but it's an interesting one, and many of the suggestions have been answers to that.

2) If you were trying to imagine some famous entertainer in miniature, as a High School classmate, who is the person who would clearly be the best in the school (or best in the city) in the most areas of performance.

3) If you were going to be organizing "enormous charity concert that nobody will decline" 19xx, which will take place in a stadium with 18,000 people, and be broadcast live around the world, who would you pick the be the headlining act. 30-40 minutes onstage, and you want them to be jaw-dropping.

4) If you were organizing a revue with music, dance, some skits, and banter and you could get one celebrity guest who was willing to be in 70% of the scenes, who would you pick? (somebody like Steve Martin would really shine in that role).

5) If you were organizing a 3-day music festival, and you could pick one celebrity headliner who would open and close the festival and play a 40-50 minute set twice a day who would you pick who could both be jaw droppingly good, and who could vary their act so they wouldn't get old over the course of the weekend, and they would leave space for each day to have its own personality.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
163

Noel Coward: incredibly successful singer, pianist, playwright, actor, director, spy - more successful in any of these pursuits, I'd say, than Chaplin as a composer or Steve Martin as a novelist.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:21 AM
horizontal rule
164

162 is sort of a longer version of 141.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
165

Starting with Michael Jackson includes something else that's sort of dropped out of the equation -- really, really massive popularity

Most of the names mentioned (James Brown, Prince, Bowie, Smokey Robinson, Springsteen, Cher, Steve Martin) would qualify by that criteria.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
166

re: 163

Nice one.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
167

162 is sort of a longer version of 141.

Not at all.

I think the exercise does make sense, I was just trying to be helpful to anybody who was at a loss by suggesting some possible criteria that they could use to argue for a preferred candidate.

(also I thought it could be interesting to get nominations that were specific to some of those sub-categories)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
168

165: Yeah, I was mostly reacting to the proposal of Janet Jackson. Who may have been a better artist than her brother, I have no judgment at all, but certainly wasn't the same caliber of star.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
169

Reading "entertainer" broadly, and especially considering that we seem to be including production credits, and sticking with the "massivley popular" theme, and also successful across a number of genres, I'm gonna say Spielberg.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
170

I keep coming back to the conclusion that the actual person with most talent is probably some Broadway performer I never heard of.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
171

Hoagy Carmichael was a singer/composer/pianist/actor who was also the model for James Bond.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
172

Let me be the first to mention Neil Diamond.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:35 AM
horizontal rule
173

Why?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:38 AM
horizontal rule
174

And I ask that as a fan.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
175

Well, because nobody had previously mentioned him.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
176

170: I'm sure you've heard of Stephen Colbert.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
177

This list seems helpful.

I'll tell you what I want to know, though: who will be first to win an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Nobel?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:42 AM
horizontal rule
178

Without 177, I bet this conversation could have continued for a very long time without anyone mentioning Whoopi Goldberg.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
179

OK, Noel Coward. Actor (stage and screen), dancer, playwright, sketch writer, revue artist, cabaret artist, short story writer, director...


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
180

Louis Armstrong.

Nat King Cole.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
181

Jennifer Lopez.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
182

I thought the original question asked for "performer," which I'd take to mean someone who has the quality that used to be called "showmanship"* -- i.e., the ability to put on an amazing musical performance, both through singing, dancing, charisma, etc. Perhaps as reflected in film performance, perhaps in live performance. Longevity over time and excellent albums would help, but recorded output alone can't qualify, which is why James Brown would be in the discussion but not the Beatles.**

*It's interesting that most of the artists mentioned come from genres where, originally, live performance was the key -- musical theater and soul music in particular, with Prince kind of the last artist in his genre to grow up on a live theater circuit. Hip-hop, which I love, just isn't creating that kind of showmanship, nor, with a few exceptions like maybe Daft Punk, is electronic music.

**The Beatles are one of the first, and still the greatest, primary-output-is-recorded-albums bands. But the Hamburg tapes make clear that they started off as a kickass live band.

***And I'd say musical showmanship is quite distinct from, just being an acting/dancing/singing "triple threat." If we're going into the latter category we have to start looking at people like John Travolta, which just seems wrong.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
183

It's interesting that most of the artists mentioned come from genres where, originally, live performance was the key [...] Hip-hop, which I love, just isn't creating that kind of showmanship

Wait, what? How is live performance not key to hip hop? And how is hip-hop lacking in showmanship?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:12 AM
horizontal rule
184

Vanilla Ice was never much of a live performer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:13 AM
horizontal rule
185

To further flaunt the analogy ban, some aspects of this remind me of the greatest baseball player ever debates. In particular there is the "How can they be the greatest ever if they weren't the greatest in the game for some portion of their career?" aspect (see Hank Aaron/Cher--actually maybe Aaron/Prince, Cher is more at the Bert Blyleven/Don Sutton longevity gets you into the Hall level). I think Michael Jackson maps to Barry Bonds: good early in career, then a relatively short dominant period later and extreme body/face shape modifications along the way.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:18 AM
horizontal rule
186

Hip hop was certainly originally a live-performance based genre, and still is to a considerable extent, but I think it's fair to say that at most of its greatest heights it's a recorded-album oriented genre in a way that older soul music and musical theater isn't, at least for the past 25 years or so. You couldn't really recreate 36 Chambers or Paid in Full or De La Soul is Dead live, nor would you want to, and hip hop in live or concert form is often pretty lackluster IME, with exceptions. The showmanship is there, of course, but I don't think it tends to quite the same level of singing/dancing/dramatic performance you'd get at a Prince or James Brown show; maybe there's someone I'm not thinking of.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
187

186: Kanye?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:21 AM
horizontal rule
188

177: Post-presidency Obama following in the footsteps of Cornel West?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
189

MC Hammer?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
190

187 -- maybe Kanye, I just don't like his recorded music that much so I haven't seen him live. Does he put on an incredible live show?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
191

189 to 177.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
192

190: I've never actually been, but if Dave Chappelle's Block Party is any indication, yes.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
193

I actually did see MC Hammer live (yes! I did!) in roughly 1991 and he totally sucked. There's a difference between wanting to have showmanship and actually having it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
194

Post-presidency Obama following in the footsteps of Cornel West?

He could perform as Kenya West.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:26 AM
horizontal rule
195

Al Gore already has a Nobel, a Grammy and an Academy Award. Some bright spark just needs to help him write "Anthropogenic Climate Change!" and take it to Broadway. Then it's just the Emmy but they give those away in cereal packets.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:29 AM
horizontal rule
196

195: Love Story the Musical, "It really was about me and Tipper!"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:30 AM
horizontal rule
197

Best bad hip-hop concert I ever saw: Rob Base at some carnival in Pittsburgh, fall of 1996. He came out and did "It Takes Two." Then he did "It Takes Two" again. Then he left.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:30 AM
horizontal rule
198

I've written about this at length elsewhere -- not on the net sadly -- but there's no good reason (and several rather dodgy ones) why MJ's face modifications aren't seen as part of a massive and revelatory avant-garde performance-art project*, exposing the actual nature of life at the centre of the leisure-industry beast.

*The LPs and tours just being the relatively small fund-raising** promotional tips of the vast iceberg of the project, which of course included all the other stunts, including marriage, court cases and so on
**Not that they remained money-spinners to the end, but many artists are notoriously poor with money


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
199

197: The biggest disappointment in Pittsburgh concert history until last week when Meatloaf collapsed on stage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
200

But the Hamburg tapes make clear that they started off as a kickass live band.

I have a 2 CD set of the Beatles playing live at the BBC in 1963-1965 (ish), doing Chuck Berry and Little Richard covers, and yukking it up with the hosts. Its really good.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
201

this one


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
202

198: but there's no good reason (and several rather dodgy ones) why MJ's face modifications aren't seen as part of a massive and revelatory avant-garde performance-art project

See, same with Barry Bonds! A massive and revelatory avant-garde performance-art project exploring the nature of sport, society and the law.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
203

maybe Kanye, I just don't like his recorded music that much so I haven't seen him live. Does he put on an incredible live show?

We saw Kanye a couple years ago, and the show was completely insane. Not exactly good, but super melodramatic and narcissistic, and a ton of props, and a lot of fun.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
204

Hip hop acts, especially American ones, are notorious in the UK for being truly awful live acts. It's rare to read a review of any that isn't filled with sadness at how bad they were. Not universally true -- peak period Public Enemy, maybe Kanye, Jay-z sometimes, and Dizzee Rascal is a fantastic live performer, and no doubt others -- but it's broadly true, I think.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
205

My first concert was DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Run DMC, and Public Enemy. It was my brother's birthday, and we went as a family. I was probably about eight. I was super excited about the Fresh Prince, obviously.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
206

I was probably about eight.

No better time to start getting up and down because 911 is a joke in your town.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
207

Afterwards everyone in the UK talked about how lame we were.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:56 AM
horizontal rule
208

I think I may have been 20 before my first real (i.e. starring somebody anybody has heard of) concert. It was the Bay City Rollers, who were well past the peak of their fame.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 10:59 AM
horizontal rule
209

I feel like there's a joke to be made here involving 8 year old Heebie, Terminator X, Professor Griff and the S1s, but I can't put it together.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 11:07 AM
horizontal rule
210

Well, I'm edumacated, and not in a good way. It had never occurred to me that anybody in America had ever heard of the Bay City Rollers.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
211

"Saturday Night" hit #1 here when I was in elementary school. S-A! T-U-R! D-A-Y! NIGHT!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
212

I only waited until the early 90s to see them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
213

There's a probably apocraphyl story that Johnny Ramone originally thought that his group sounded like, and would compete for an audience with, the Bay City Rollers.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
214

210: I recall a brief flurry where their PR machine managed to get the "Biggest thing since the Beatles?" hype into mass media over here. And beyond that I know nothing to not much. So I guess they weren't, eh?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 11:24 AM
horizontal rule
215

I was in the U.K. when I saw them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 11:25 AM
horizontal rule
216

Apocraphyl - Best drug ever. If you believe the stories.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
217

214: I remember that -- particularly that this coincided with Howard Cosell having his own prime-time non-sports show, and all this advertising for him covering the moment when the "Biggest thing since the Beatles" landed in the U.S. A great forgotten moment in pop culture suckitude!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
218

Hey, I just realized something possibly unfair but also sort of hilarious: all three of the hip-hop albums mentioned in 186 as examples of awesome records that wouldn't translate well to live performance are classics of the sample-heavy style of hip-hop production that's now basically died out due to licensing requirements. On the other hand, the more spare, electronic style (combined with tracks built around single, blockbuster samples) of current popular hip-hop is undoubtedly easier to replicate live (and, in fact, when I saw N.E.R.D. at Coachella, they were explosively awesome). Halford strikin' a blow for showmanship!


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
219

||
Are we going to re-live the entire '70s?

The FBI says it has a "credible" lead in the D.B. Cooper case involving the 1971 hijacking of a passenger jet over Washington state and the suspect's legendary parachute escape.
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
220

218 -- As I've said about a billion times, while being ignored by you each time, I support compulsory licensing for sampling, which would entirely solve the problem identified in 218. And, incidentally, is backed by both most major artists and the major labels, though not the RIAA.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 12:20 PM
horizontal rule
221

As I've said about a billion times, while being ignored by you each time

I'm sure I only ignored you several hundred million times and then forgot after all the others.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
222

Here's a good overview of how a compulsory sampling license regime could work.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
223

I saw GirlTalk in concert. It still rocked, despite Tweety and Halford feuding in the background.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 1-11 12:59 PM
horizontal rule