Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stop Fixing What Isn't Broken

Wow, one hell of a national championship game we had last night, yes? The only way it could have been better would be if that half-court shot at the buzzer had fallen for Butler, but all in all you could hardly have scripted a tougher-fought or more entertaining conclusion to the college basketball season. And so what if we had to stomach Duke winning the title, because the consolation prize of "One Shining Moment" was awaiting us just a few moments afterward.

Possibly the most anticipated 3-and-a-half minute montage of the year, "One Shining Moment" is a lock to put a nice cherry on top of the tournament, regardless of how well that night's title game turned out. So you can imagine the disappointment shared by millions of Americans on the edge of their seats as they were subjected to this shit. I refuse to even embed it because I don't want to deface our blog, so you're going to have to click on the link to see what I mean. It starts innocently enough, but at the :53 mark, instead of a nice "opening tipoff" shot to go along with the opening line "The ball is tipped," we get a shot of Jennifer Hudson's fat face wailing at us. And then it didn't stop. Intermittently, it kept cutting to pre-set studio shots of Jennifer Hudson doing her best to put the song through a blender. What, 64 basketball games didn't provide CBS with enough footage to fill 210 seconds? "One Shining Moment" has never (not to my memory, at least) cut to shots of the person singing it; it just stuck to what people actually want to see - the defining images of that year's tournament. Why change that now? Is CBS trying that hard to manufacture Hudson as the next great big star?

It baffles me that CBS found it necessary to do away with the Luther Vandross version of the song that, despite not being the earlier version that really made a name for the song, did it total justice. Both versions evoked a soothing yet masculine inspirational feeling, thanks in large part to the vocal work of the men singing them. The Jennifer Hudson version? Her voice is too high and she takes every chance to inject her own style into it and try to turn it into soul music. It sounded like such canned ham that I honestly sat there hoping it was going to turn into a Rick Roll.

I don't want to rip on Jennifer Hudson too much because I remember the personal tragedy she has recently overcome. But part of me can't forget how her Super Bowl XLIII rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" went from a B+ to a D in the final 45 seconds because she tried to elongate it and soul it up. I understand she's a hell of a singer and an Academy Award winner, so questioning her talent would be stupid on my part. My real problem lies with the style, and furthermore my problem lies with those at CBS who saw it fit to hire her to apply that style to "One Shining Moment."

Certain things in civic culture and popular culture reach such high levels that there becomes only one right way to do them. There is one right way and about 4 dozen wrong ways to sing our national anthem. Similarly, you don't say the Pledge of Allegiance in a Cartman voice; you say it seriously and straightforward. Maybe we didn't realize it until CBS screwed with it this year, but "One Shining Moment" was at such a point. We like it the way it was. It is best the way it was. It is not to be modernized, enhanced, or left up to an individual performer's interpretation.

Oh well. It's just an ending montage that we'll all forget about within a week or two. I mean, at least there's not something galactically stupid going on like the NCAA expanding the tournament to 96 teams or anything. Oh wait, never mind....

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