Archive for May 3rd, 2009

May 3, 2009

And here’s WHY ‘hot young Susan Boyle’ wasn’t a superstar of the 1980s

I got ‘Lanched for my post about the 1984 “hot young Susan Boyle” video, and several commenters were saying “get the tweezers,” suggesting her thick eyebrows had thwarted her singing career, which is demonstrably nonsense. (Hello, Patty Smyth!)

Now, there are always plenty of talented musicians who never make it big, just as there are always relatively untalented performers who soar to inexplicable stardom. So it may be that why Susan Boyle’s amazing voice went undiscovered for 25 years needs no explanation. Nevertheless, it is not entirely mysterious.

  • GENRE — Susan Boyle has clearly always preferred the dramatic ballad, from “The Way We Were” in 1984 to “I Dreamed a Dream” in 2009. Which is all well and good, but you’re not going to get a lot of bar-band gigs with that kind of repertoire. It is almost always the case in the pop music business that singers (or groups) must first establish an ability to perform upbeat dance tunes before they can have a chance to score a ballad hit. The Beatles broke through with “Please Please Me” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” before they ever got around to “Yesterday.” Elvis was famous for rockers like “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Hound Dog” before he recorded “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.”
  • STYLE — Susan Boyle’s simple, unaffected voice is, well, simple and unaffected. Lovely as her voice is, there is no attention-getting stylistic distinctiveness that would set her apart from the crowd. (Think of Rod Stewart’s distinctive rasp.) So while she might have been a success if some manager or producer had been able to connect her with songwriters who could provide her with new tunes she could make her own, she was never going to become a star merely by singing “cover” tunes.
  • LOOKS — If her thick eyebrows (a look that was quite fashionable at that time) didn’t hinder Susan Boyle’s early singing career, her overall look wasn’t quite right, even in 1984. Or rather, especially in 1984, which was the year that Madonna zoomed to stardom on the strength of her hit-filled 1983 debut album. However you rate Susan Boyle’s appearance at age 22, her wardrobe and hairstyle were not remotely what the MTV audience wanted to see.

And here we must take a long digression to discuss the impact of MTV on the music industry. Folks under 40 may dimly remember the pre-MTV era — back when they actually played music videos — but no one under 30 has any idea what music was like before the cable-music network debuted in 1981. The very first video played on MTV was The Buggles’ “Video Killed Radio Star,” and it was prophetic.

The Kevin Cronin Syndrome
You kids today have no idea what sort of butt-ugly guys played in the great rock bands of the ’70s. As long as a dude had shaggy hair and could play his instrument, he was in like Flynn. Back in the pre-MTV days, the ugliest guy in Molly Hatchet got laid by a different lovestruck groupie every night.

It was always the case that a top act tended to be led by an attractive front-man (think Steven Tyler of Aerosmith), and that a solo performer like Peter Frampton or Billy Squier was almost always a looker. But Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon? Ten pounds of hair hiding 130 pounds of homely and scrawny.

The advent of MTV put a new premium on looks and just about the only great band of the ’70s that survived the cut was ZZ Top, where the bearded guys were clever enough to make Penthouse models and ’32 hot rods the stars of their videos.

If MTV weeded out a lot of ugly guys in the music business, it was far more brutal on women. You ever took a close look at Janis Joplin? Dude, I don’t care how much brown acid you ate at Woodstock, Janis could never have made it in the MTV era. Compared to Janis, Susan Boyle was Bar Rafaeli.

A superstar, but . . .
Even if Susan Boyle wasn’t Olivia Newton-John, she was sufficiently attractive that — with a more flattering hairstyle, a flashier wardrobe, a good backup group and a repertoire that included some up-tempo original tunes — she might still have made it big as a singer, but . . .

But she never had a manager or a record producer who (a) was professionally competent, and (b) really believed in her talent. Again, I make reference to the careers of Elvis and the Beatles:

  • Elvis was just another hillbilly with a guitar until Sun Records owner Sam Phillips recognized his talent, and then Colonel Tom Parker took over as his manager.
  • The Beatles had bounced around Liverpool and Hamburg for years before record-store owner Brian Epstein took over as their manager and then record producer George Martin signed them to a contract.

Even all these decades later, the combination of a smart manager and a great producer remain the key to turning a talented performer into a chart-topping sensation. Even in the case of a solo performer, success requires teamwork, and the most important members of the winning team are not necessarily the ones under the spotlights on the stage.

Well, Susan finally got her big break and, as Little Miss Attila says, she’s got some catching up to do. The lesson we should take away from this teachable moment, it seems to me, is that there might be some undiscovered talent — musical or otherwise — among your acquaintances. You might know someone who, with the right advice, the right kind of support, promotion and encouragement, might blossom into a superstar. It is incumbent upon you, then, to be that person who makes a difference in their life.

If the next Susan Boyle spends 25 years in obscurity, you have only yourself to blame.

May 3, 2009

Monique Stewart, Impressing Feminists

By Smitty
HotMES sounds as though her Master’s thesis, which probably won’t be finished this week, will be a strong contender for That Which Offends Die Drachen most. It’s a thesis on our national scourge.

That the American public is fooled into thinking that this is about a woman’s right to choose, or a child’s right to life but, realistically, this is about a multi-billion dollar industry.

Monique reveals this in a post concerning a conversation with such a “fierce woman” in I’m sorry, I don’t speak retarded. Go, Monique, go!

May 3, 2009

Why? Because Obama hates women

“[Democrat feminist blogger Melissa] McEwan became increasingly unnerved by what she saw of the sexist coverage of Clinton, and how the progressive blogosphere, having embraced Obama, let so much of it pass without comment. . . . Worse was the fact that over time, she couldn’t shake the feeling that portions of the netroots were actually pushing the sexist stuff.”

(Bloggers: Join the celebration!)

May 3, 2009

Princess Kennedy for SCOTUS?

By Smitty
HillBuzz scoops it:

Ladies and Gentleman, I come to you today not as the daughter of a former president, not as the daughter of a former first lady known around the world for her style and grace, not as the niece of a shameless drunk who left a woman to drown in his submerged Oldsmobile, not as the embarrassment to herself and, you know, others who tried to claim a Senate seat that didn’t belong to her, not as that same embarrassment who then thought she could be Ambassador to the Vatican, despite the Pope’s personal protests against me, and the fact the last Ambassador Kennedy did as much damage to US-British relations as was humanly possible.
No, today I come before you, my reddish-brown mane never looking better, my diamonds never sparkling more, as not any of those previously mentioned things that make my mother, father, and brother roll over in their graves. No, today I am standing before you as just Caroline Kennedy, the woman who now wants to be a Justice on the Supreme Court. The woman who once had that pony you all remember and loved. . . .

Ah, yes. Read the rest.

UPDATE (RSM): Speaking of princesses and ponies, John “Silky Pony” Edwards is under investigation for suspected campaign finance violations.

May 3, 2009

Rule 5 Sunday

By Smitty
Stacy did a great job yesterday with the clone bot output I sent him entitled “From Moab Journey Ridiculous Anchor Tags”. He apparently lacks my backronym fetish. However, the loyal readership may not have copied him on all the Rule 5 inputs, so I’ll just get a little something put together.

As we’re hitting the road early tomorrow from Moab to take in Mesa Verde, your choice are to mailbomb Stacy with updates, or let me queue them up for next Sunday, which will probably be posted from Lost Wages. But enough distraction.

  • W.J. Perry features Danica Patrick looking for directions to…something. And speaking of directions, we will include this link, with a stern warning about the last photo: this kind of thing and Yasser Arafat are two examples of Shootin’ Offenses on Rule 5 Sunday. You may administer punishment with a water pistol at your leisure, and are admonished to sin no more, sir. Later in the week, he nominated Megyn Kelly for the SCOTUS. All is forgiven.
  • The Physics Geek features a healthy collection of lovlies.
  • Kirbside initiates a Rule 5 mystery. One only hopes the answer isn’t too anticlimactic.
  • Jeffords comes down on the negative side of the timeless BIB? question. I thoroughly agree with his answer and his sensibility.
  • Dustbury has a great retro shot of Shirley Jones. Nice [large cat]!
  • The quotable Mark Freeberg:

    If visual pleasure is one of the Muses, incarnated into flesh and blood and sent down from Mount Olympus to walk upon the earth…this young lady is undoubtedly her.

  • Donald Douglas sounds as though he’s in full agreement with Freeberg on Bar Rafaeli
  • Paco’s string of silver screen sensations remains unbroken.
  • Pat in Shreveport comes through with some Russell Crowe goodness. Bows are so masculine. But can she do Ted Nugent with a bow? If nothing else, he’s old enough to meed Stacy’s Bonham Rule. Nugent, BTW, is one of the only people I can think of who makes Stacy seem sedate in comparison.
  • Mildly Rude URL Pun of the Day goes to the WyBlog, for go-go bars feel the economic pinch, which shows up in the post title as ‘downturn’.
  • Check out this caption contest over at Cowboy Blob’s Saloon and Shootin Gallery.
  • Fausta has beaten Pat and Carol to Sean Connery. I’m almost tempted to drop everything and move to Scotland to work on the accent.
  • Chris Muir has Governor Palin in “sexy” positions.
  • The Track-a-‘Crat has been doing yeoman work on his blog, handing out floggings to deserving (mostly Lefty) targets, and slid in a picture of two people he claims are him and his bride. We also know that US schools are less than scholarly. Apparently US schools in his neighborhood have been giving off excessive Lousy Grammar Radiation. Here we have a Brit saying: “…this photo is of my wife and I at our wedding reception eight days ago.”
    Now, if it was just you, Jonathan, you’d have said “…this photo is of me”. If her, “…this photo is of my wife”. So why does it become “my wife and I“, for Shakespeare’s sake?

Relax, everyone, I only let the grammar fascist out of his cage for Jonathan, because he secretly craves the abuse. As noted above, I’m out looking at natural beauty, like these two “ships of the desert” on the way in to Canyonlands National Park:

(work with me, people) So you can either email updates to Stacy for inclusion here, or mail them to Smitty for inclusion next time.

May 3, 2009

How to Offend a Feminist

What it takes is a music video of hot, sexy, young “Russian Girls,” stripping to their skivvies, getting wet, and shimmying all over the place.

Bloggers: Join the Celebration!

May 3, 2009

Obamanomics vs. economics

Barack Obama blames “a small group of speculators” for the bankruptcy of Chrysler. This is a politically convenient alternative to blaming the greedy goons who run the United Auto Workers.

Yesterday, Instapundit linked Conor Clarke, who wondered “why business and policy stories get reported like campaign stories,” which is an easy question to answer: Because that’s what the editors want.

The Obama phenomenon has so entranced the journalistic elite that everything is now framed in terms of whether it helps Democrats or hurts Republicans (these are the only two possible effects of any event). As I remarked via Twitter to Tammy Bruce, if the Chicago Bulls go to double OT, the media are now obliged to tell us how this news will help Democrats.

The problem that this absurd synchonicity between the media and the Democrats has created is that economics isn’t politics, and economics is not public relations:

Don’t you people understand that it doesn’t matter how “popular” you and your policies are, if what you are doing is the wrong thing to do? And that it doesn’t matter how clever and persuasive your arguments are, if your policies bring disaster?

The fundamental realities of supply and demand cannot be wished away by Hope, and all the favorable publicity in the world is not going to change that. And yet Team Obama apparently believes that, with the assistance of their media friends, they can alter economic reality.

So today, Instapundit links Megan McArdle, who talks about how Obama has attempted to bully hedge-fund investors on behalf of the UAW and asks the provocative question:

What do you think this is going to do to the supply of credit for industries with powerful unions?

Indeed. Investors are not stupid, and you can’t make capitalism work without capital. McArdle actually voted for Obama, but has recently written some of the most sobering assessments of the misconceptions of Obamanomics. This past week, she wrote a brilliant 1,070-word article summarizing the fundamental problems, which inspired me to describe the failure of Obamanomics thus:

The stimulus-and-bailout policies have not addressed the fundamental problems of the economy — namely, an excess of debt and a shortage of capital to spur job creation — while the entitlement trainwreck of Social Security and Medicare loom immediately ahead. By piling on new trillion-dollar deficits, at a time when the recession will result in significant tax revenue shortfalls, the Democrats are steering the economy into a stagflation trap.

Obama and the Democrats apparently believe that by applying enough political muscle and ginning up enough good media coverage, this economic reality can be made to go away. They’re wrong. It Won’t Work.

UPDATE: Oh, spare me your psychobabble:

What is the chance that the current downturn will morph into another Great Depression? That question has been preoccupying people for months. The popular mood has a huge impact on the economy, so it’s worth noting what many people seem to forget: Depression scares come and go. And by one authoritative measure, the current outbreak of concern has been surprisingly mild.

This is written by a Yale University economics professor! Repeat after me: Economics is not psychology.

This Ivy League idiot then cites a poll of consumer confidence, as if “popular mood” was the most important factor in the current crisis. It’s not. We are confronted with a capital shortage, which would be disastrous enough even if the government weren’t currently in the hands of people who are profoundly hostile to capital.

Would it be too obvious to point out that the great mid-20th-century heyday of Keynesian economics was also the heyday of Freudian psychology? And that both of these theories were wrong? Look at what this idiot, Robert Shiller, wrote about Keynes and “animal spirits” in January and tell me if you’ve ever seen greater economic idiocy published in the Wall Street Journal.

The Keynesian professor looks at the Rorshach inkblot and sees consumer confidence (since this “demand-side” input dominates Keynesian thinking), whereas I’m looking at the inkblot and seeing an inkblot.

You can’t make capitalism work without capital, and the capital shortage is going to result in a lack of job creation. Or, as Michelle Malkin said in September: “The fundamentals suck.”

May 3, 2009

The Eternal Question

“If God did not intend for women to be barefoot and pregnant, why was each and every one of them born naked, with a uterus?”

(It’s National Offend A Feminist Week!)

May 3, 2009

(Belated) April traffic report

Seeing Troglopundit doing cartwheels over his recent traffic surge reminds me that I forgot to do my regular monthly traffic report.

April was our second-best month since the election, with 160,991 visits compared to 163,608 for March. The big day was April 9, when we got two Instalanches in one day (Smitty’s ham-and-cheese sandwich and my “Blue State Republican” essay). That produced 20,480 visits, the best day in the history of the blog. Another ‘Lanche (“I Question the Timing!”) helped drive another 11,787 hits on April 17.

Proving the Rule 4 principle that linky-hate can be as good as linky-love, the “What next? Over-the-counter roofies?” post got me yet another “Malkin Award” nomination. Speaking of Malkin, I started getting picked up in the “Buzzworthy” feed at her blog, which has helped boost traffic in the past week. I’ve also started posting at The Green Room.

And all the FMJRA gang (you know who you are) have helped immeasurably. Networking and collaborating to build a shared pool of readers . . . well, I think Trog and others are starting to see how the rules work, if applied consistently.

May 3, 2009


Wow! The backup group is crappy, but she clearly had something back in 1984:

Hat-tip: Hot Air Headlines.

The woman who, in middle age, sprang to stardom on “Britain Got Talent,” was a very polished performer at age 22 but, for whatever reason, never got a break. This kind of situation — the undiscovered talent — is really more common than might be imagined by people who aren’t in the music business.

I used to know a bartender in Georgia who was a tremendous R&B singer. At one point, he had been under contract as singer for the group that eventually became famous as the Atlanta Rhythm Section. For whatever reason — he told me the story, but I’ve forgotten now — it just didn’t work out, and he never really got another shot.

UPDATE: ‘Lanches, light the corners of my mind . . .

UPDATE II: Some commenters are saying that Susan Boyle’s thick eyebrows explain her lack of ’80s stardom. Let me remind you of something:

That’s Brooke Shields on the cover of German Vogue in 1984, when thick eyebrows on women were all the rage. Well, Susan Boyle’s eyes weren’t quite as startling and her mouth wasn’t quite as pouty as Brooke’s, and so everybody in the comments is saying that Susan didn’t become a singing star 25 years ago because she needed a pair of tweezers. I think the explanation is otherwise, but I’m waiting for someone else to tell me what it is.

UPDATE III: OK, some of you guys in the comments (talking about the fact that there 5,000 musical geniuses waiting tables and driving forklifts in Nashville) are getting closer to the truth about the situation. Now check out my attempt to explain why Susan Boyle went undiscovered.