Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

ROCK ME, AMADEUS

Posted on

Tom Waits’ new album, The Black Rider, consists of music he wrote for a Robert Wilson opera recently staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. And surprise: Waits’ warped, carnival-barker score is actually pretty good. Most graying rockers who try to show they are Serious Artistes-as a way to relieve the tedium of performing in arenas full of screaming fans, garnering platinum albums, and hanging out with Tabitha Soren-aren’t as lucky, however, as the following run sheet of classically minded pop stars shows. PAUL McCARTNEY Title Of Work:Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio (1991) What It Is:Middlebrow choral work about a war baby who grows up, mistreats pregnant wife, and is redeemed. Latin lyrics included. Sample Silliness:In her role as the wife, opera diva Kiri Te Kanawa belts, ”Cancel my appointment at the Squash Club!” Critical Reation:”A padded, vapid, recycled, cross-dressed, sentimental, pretty-pretty oratorio- the sort of thing that gives saccharine a bad name.” Saving Grace:No tambourine parts for wife Linda.

CHARLIE WATTS Title Of Work:A Tribute to Charlie Parker with strings (1992) What It Is:.The Rolling Stones drummer fulfills childhood dream by recording Parker tunes with jazz-musician buds. Sample Silliness:Sax player recites poetry written by Watts Critical Reation:”Bird tribute shows Stone better keep his day job.” Saving Grace:Record stores often file it under ”jazz,” giving it a smidgen of authenticity.

CARLY SIMON Title Of Work:Carly Simon’s Romulus Hunt (1993) What It Is: Sample Silliness:Romulus’ mom sings: ”What about the hole in his nose where the ring was?/Will that grow back too?” Critical Reation:”The music is neither memorable nor catchy; the dialogue is often tortured and narcissistic.” Saving Grace:For an opera, it’s short-only one hour. Diluted mix of pop, reggae, and cabaret tunes would work well for future ketchup ads.

PRINCE Title Of Work:Billboards (1993) What It Is:The Joffrey Ballet company interprets pre-recorded hits from the unnamed one’s heyday. Sample Silliness:Classically trained dancers leaping around in tights to lyrics like ”Everybody grab a bod/Pump it like U want somebody.” Critical Reaction:”This relentlessly ‘now’ ballet is already looking dated.” Saving Grace:The Glyph didn’t design the costumes, so we’re spared hairy, uncovered butts.

ELVIS COSTELLO Title Of Work:The Juliet Letters (1993) What It Is:Fictional ”letters” sung to accompaniment of the Brodsky Quartet’s classical strings. Sample Silliness:Costello singing the address of an envelope. Critical Reaction:”You almost wished some drunk would scream out ‘Pump It Up.’ ” Saving Grace:Titles like ”Damnation’s Cellar,” ”Swine,” and ”Taking My Life in Your Hands” would make good death-metal songs.

Comments