A Cole Porter tribute -- What to look out for on the ''Red Hot + Blue'' special on ABC
This incarnation of Red Hot + Blue started out as a double album of 20 contemporary pop performers singing new versions of Cole Porter standards, with proceeds going to AIDS research. As a way of raising more awareness of this project, Red Hot + Blue is now a TV show that unveils Porter-inspired music videos made by the likes of Sinéad O’Connor, David Byrne, k.d. lang, and the Neville Brothers. Musical interpretations vary: Except for covering her bald head with a blond wig and applying Marilyn Monroe-ish makeup, O’Connor sings Porter’s ”You Do Something to Me” pretty straight. Lang, on the other hand, turns ”So in Love” into a housewife’s depressed lament; as she lip-synchs, she pulls on yellow rubber gloves to dump clothes into a washing machine. Now there’s a star who hasn’t done her own washing in a long time! Given the context, some of Porter’s dryly witty hymns to the high life become inadvertently ironic and poignant; in others, Porter’s paradox — lighthearted heartbreak — is deepened.