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Friday, 7 December 2012

Chimène Badi - Gospel and Soul at Olympia - or champagne served in a beer glass

French singer Chimène Badi returned to Olympia, that mythical musical venue on Boulevard Capucines in Paris, this week to "treat" her fans to a collection of songs mainly taken from her most recent album - "Gospel and Soul".



It could and should have been a chance for the 30-year-old to prove that the rather mediocre rendition of many of the songs on the album had been down to over-produced studio arrangements and that "live" she would belt out what was a great selection of songs, with passion.

After all, Badi arguably has one of the best voices of her generation. It's powerful and distinctive and you would think ideally suited to both Gospel and Soul.

It wasn't to be the case.

Things didn't get off to the best of starts with fans sitting through a 20 minute warm-up act and then having to wait almost another 40 minutes before Badi made an appearance.

The Paris audience - and let's face it, they're never among the most patient - began the inevitable slow hand clap interspersed with calls for their "star" before...finally the curtain raised and the first chords were struck.

Musically-speaking the choice of "Proud Mary" as an opening number was far from being inspired as it displayed just how lacking in stage presence and charisma Badi really is.

Yes, she has a voice that makes her instantly recognisable, but choosing only half-heartedly to emulate Tina Turner's performance of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, proved to be her undoing.

Breathless, as she seemed to forget all the lessons she might have learned from her recent appearance in Danse avec les stars, Badi also missed - or failed to make (there's a slight distinction) some of her notes.

It rather set the tone, as far as the English-language songs were concerned, for the rest of the evening.

There was Stevie Wonder's "For once in my life" - best described perhaps as simply karaoke-inspired.

An a cappella version of "Amazing Grace" was...well simply neither "amazing" nor "graceful" - but perhaps it was never meant to be.

Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" was lost amid the "battle" that seemed to ensue between Badi and a band of undoubtedly individually-talented musicans whose volume seemed to have been cranked-up to the max.

Thankfully the late Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell are no longer around to hear what Badi did with "Ain't no mountain high enough" and hopefully nobody will tell Diana Ross.

And as far as Otis Redding's "Try a little tenderness" was concerned...well Badi shouldn't even have gone there. It was cringingly embarrassing.

She fared better - it wasn't difficult - with some of the French-language songs.

Georges Moustaki's "Ma liberté", Native's "Tu planes sur moi" and Nicole Croisille's "Parlez-moi de lui"  - all worked pretty well - given how dreadful the English-language songs had been.


Getting it right - "Tu planes sur moi" excerpt


The inclusion of a couple of "favourites" from previous albums such as "Le Miroir" and "Entre Nous" - both given the Gospel and Soul  treatment - will have kept the most loyal fans happy.

Or will they? After all this was far from being the Badi that most of them had grown to appreciate since she was said to have a "Rolls Royce of a voice" by one of the judges when she first came to the public's attention on the now-defunct TV talent show "Popstars"

Really,  Badi - and her management - needs to learn that there's more to Gospel and Soul than dismal cover versions of stand alone originals.

And it's not enough to have six and sometimes a dozen other singers with less-than extraordinary voices, dressed in the appropriate garb and swaying and clapping in accompaniment, for the performance to qualify as Gospel.

Badi will be back at Olympia for three dates in January 2013 when again she'll be subjecting audiences to what can only be described as a rather lame or tame attempt at either Gospel or Soul.

If they - or you - want to hear the real thing - French style - and yes it does exist - then they would be better off trying Nicoletta. Perhaps that's a piece of advice Badi should also bear in mind.

And here's some more.

Chiméne - Yes, you can sing. There's no doubt about that. But no you cannot sing Gospel and Soul - at least not in English because you don't have the voice, the passion or the feel for either.

Stick with French ballads or even uptempo numbers

But please, for the sake of those who really love music and for whom the genres matter - leave well alone.

Quote of the night overheard in the bar just before the show - perhaps an omen of what was to come.

Bar lady: "What would you like sir?"

Customer: "I don't know...I"m torn between a glass of champagne or a beer."

He finally plumped for champagne served, in what appeared to be, a beer glass.

And that's pretty much what Badi did too.

Here's how "Try a little tenderness" should sound.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh dear! How dreadful! Can't sing. And if I remember correctly from watching "Dans avec les Stars", can't dance either. I've always wondered why French female artists want to show that they can sing, dance, act, etc... Why can't they just stick with one skill and try to become good at it. I maybe old fashioned, but for me, the best French singer is Mireille Mathieu. And she's only done on thing in her life, sing.

Deirdre

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