Saturday, January 19, 2013

IN THE WINTER: Fat Pig Adele vs Little Kosher Janis

Fasten your seat belt, you're in for a bumpy rant!

One of the biggest (s)hits in recent memory is Adele's "Someone Like You." The U.K.'s most exported pork product ended up over-exposed on awards shows and a health hazard for anyone trying to navigate a store without hearing her loud, vengeful car-alarm bleating. The more you hear it, the less it becomes a tolerable Whitney Houston trumpet and more the bark of a novelty like "Who Let the Dogs Out." Even in Spanx and minus a coating of tart make-up, watching her perform is only slightly less revolting than seeing that "Gangnam Style" Korean galloping in place like a retarded pony.

"Someone Like You" isn't even such a good "paranoid bitch confronting an ex-boyfriend" song.

"You're married now," she says, "Guess she gave you things I didn't give to you. Old friend, why are you so shy? Ain't like you to hold back or hide from the light."

Hold back? If a grotesquely lumpy ex-girlfriend suddenly appeared, who wouldn't shrink away? Does a pedestrian jump in front of an oncoming bus?

"I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited, but...I couldn't fight it."

Two words: RAGING COW. Adele, alias "TORA TORA TORA" (that's fat cow, 3x too large) warns, "For me it isn't over."

At this point, I imagine the ex-boyfriend acting like Graham Chapman as King Arthur, and crying "Run away! RUN AWAY!" But galloping after him, is the fat horse of the apocalypse, her naggy siren voice shrieking with migraine-inducing anger: "Never mind, I'll find someone like you!" Then leave him the fuck alone Adele, and start dating at the Institute for the Blind.

"I wish nothing but the best for you..." she screams with all the sincerity of Kathy Bates opposite James Caan in "Misery."

Don't forget me…"

You think this guy could forget a nightmare of sex with Adele? The time she got on top and he had to call the paramedics to re-start his breathing? The time he went down on her and heard an echo? The way her sweat smelled like gravy?

By contrast, let's examine "In the Winter" by Janis Ian, a much more artistic and enduring "paranoid stalker" song from an earlier generation. Ian is also an enduring artist, who has remained viable for 40 years, putting out albums, coming up with a compelling autobiography, and continuing to tour. By contrast Adele, like Susan Boyle, will have the shelf life of a can of Spam.

The opposite of fat, gentile, British Adele, the former Janis Fink is short, Jewish and American. Instead of being a braying one-note, she uses a variety of vocal textures against an impressive variation of backing music; stark bony piano, groaning cellos, a dash of Psycho-violin, and when the suspense becomes unbearable, the full grandiose orchestra.

Big-voiced singers rely on loudness these days to score emotion. Janis, like most of her folkie influences, prefers to blend acting and attitude in with the singing. It works; all she has to do is mutter: "I met your friend. She's very nice. What can I say." Uh-oh.

Unlike Adele, who stormed in on her ex-lover, Janis has quietly emerged from the shadows:

"You have a lovely home." Double uh-oh.

Does she have a new lover? "No, I live alone."

Dementia drips from every plucked violin note, and no horror film actress ever delivered lines like that with more disquieting menace. No horror scriptwriter could invent a more disturbing or disjointed pair of sentences than these: "You're looking well. I'm not afraid."

BE afraid. Be very afraid. Will she kill the guy? Kill the new girlfriend? Kill herself? Her voice rises: "Lovely wife. You have a lovely wife!" Lovely. LOVELY! The killer's words in Hitchcock's "Frenzy" may have still lingered in Ian's mind.

The song's eerie navigation continues between major and minor, and between straitjacket calm (she seems soothed by imagining "extra blankets") and cold fury. It moves along contrasting Paul Simon-type alienation and vengeance (you fear she'll do some damage one fine day) until it climaxes with the uncorked bathos of "Macarthur Park" and its flurry of orchestral martyrs killing themselves to help Janis reach for those impossible notes.

Unlike Adele's number, you can listen to this complex little drama again and again, finding new musical accents and lyrical quirks. Did any of this happen or is it in her imagination? Since her ex-lover doesn't speak, is she speaking to a corpse? You can imagine many different scenarios. Maybe the guy's still alive but about to die. Maybe she'll kill them both and the last lines are her acceptance of a future in solitary confinement! You have till the Spring to figure this all out….

No download for the Adele song…just go into your local supermarket, stand under the speakers near the pork section, and you're bound to hear it within 10 minutes.

In the Winter Janis Ian


Anonymous said...

Beneath you dude.

Also Janis Ian sucks really hard, always has.

Your last visitor has made his last visit.

Ill Folks said...

Beneath me? If Adele was beneath me...I'd be crushed.

I don't know how hard Janis can possibly suck now that she's been a lesbian for so long. "Society's Child" sucked? An important, pioneering, courageous song. I can't say she's had as high a batting average as a Paul Simon, or even a Carly Simon, but she's been creative and intelligent over many decades. And the thrust of this post was "In the Winter," which doesn't suck.

Jeez. Well, ya can't please 'em all, can you. Maybe a slob like Adele will always make sure every album maintains the same easy level of pablum, but if she's an artist at all, she'll probably put something on her next disc that might get a fan or two to say "that's it, I'm done, I expect you to always please me, never challenge me, and mind-read what could turn me off."

Wait...come back! I haven't even started on Rihanna or Beyonce yet! Sapristi....

Anonymous said...

Wait, I've come back!

It's the 'fat pig & slob' bullshit thats beneath you.

I realize being the physical specimen you are entitles you to cast such aspersions, still it's infantile.

No one cares about Rihanna or Beyonce.. or Adele for that matter (who I wouldn't know if I ran her over in my Dodge).


Yeah and Janis Ian is a bore's bore (hope this doesn't challenge you ).

there's pablum and pretentious bullshit. hard to take either in musicians or scary talented, oversensitive bloggers.

shutyourpiehole said...
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shutyourpiehole said...
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shutyourpiehole said...

Thank you. I'm so sick of sheep who get stuck on whatever the press is pushing and can't think for themselves. I don't like obnoxious Jennifer Hudson but I sure wish she'd explain to Adele how to get a little self respect and put down the fork. We're not talking big. Queen Latifah is a "big" girl and she looks great. Adele is a fat slob.

Ill Folks said...

"there's pablum and pretentious bullshit. hard to take either in musicians or scary talented, oversensitive bloggers."

Well, nice of you to return, Anon. You're taking "fat pig" out of context. The line is "Fat Pig Adele vs Little Kosher Janis." That's a semi-amusing contrast (I think). I'd agree that simply calling Adele a "fat pig" would be beneath me. Or even a school child.

People can be fat. Kate Smith was. Aretha is. Susan Boyle could lose some weight. Some people have a legit glandular problem or slow metabolism. The main thing about my piece was that fans act as if Adele is some kind of unique, talented Goddess. And not fat.

She's fat. And she's not as unique or particularly talented as 20-something fans think. There have been fat singers before, and more creative ones now (including Jann Arden). Shirley Bassey blasted out James Bond songs well before Adele. And Janis Ian (among others) sang better revenge songs.

Fact is, despite MY opinion, Adele has won a zillion awards and become a very wealthy cow. And despite YOUR opinion, Janis Ian has likewise sold millions of albums and does brisk business whenever she tours.

Which isn't to say that I listen to a lot of Janis Ian, or wouldn't find myself bored after a few songs in a row. I do think she's written some very good stuff, and "In the Winter," for all its amusing over-the-top lines and orchestration, is very good. "Society's Child" was an important, groundbreaking song, and quite an achievement for a teenager.

I do appreciate the line about being "scary talented." Oversensitive? Oh, I dunno, by your definition wasn't my post...insensitive?

Adele is fat. But worse, her grossly over-enthusiastic fans are thick! Take it down a notch, Adelphis. PS, I thought the hype for Winehouse was a bit drunken, too.