I know that if you don’t have anything nice to say you shouldn’t say anything at all.
There are two reasons I feel that I can break this rule.
First – I love Meryl Streep. Sophie’s Choice, Plenty, Postcards From the Edge, Kramer v Kramer, Silkwood, Out of Africa, Death Becomes Her, The Hours, the list goes on. A consummate actress. Divine.
Second I love ABBA. I have always loved ABBA. I loved ABBA in the 70s. I loved ABBA through the 80s when they weren’t cool. I loved ABBA in the 90s. Suddenly, around 1993, ‘ABBA Gold’ came out, ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ came out and ABBA was cool again. Hello! One of my earliest memories is listening to Fernando. I used to pester my Mum to put on the vinyl LPs of ABBA Arrival (“I am behind you! I always find you! I am the Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!”) and the self-titled ABBA (“Hey, Hey Helen! Now you live on your own”). Disco ruled with “Voulez-Vous” (there was something about the lyrics “Look into his angel eyes. One look and you’re hypnotised” – and my parents never suspected anything?). In 1981 my Christmas present was a Sony Cassette Recorder and a copy of ABBA’s Super Trouper. I listened to that cassette non-stop all the way to Pambula on a summer holiday. Two of my favourite songs of all time are “Our Last Summer” and “The Winner Takes It All”. One of the first vinyl singles I bought was “Gimme Gimme Gimme (a man after midnight)” – I mean, what was my dad thinking when I used to sing along to that?
I must say that Meryl Streep + ABBA = Big Mistake.
I was in Borders yesterday morning. The store had just opened and there were very few people in there. The music over their sound system must have been set at a volume suitable for a store full of people, for at 9:05am the music was blaring. And it was blaring the Mamma Mia film soundtrack. Not just any old song from the Mamma Mia soundtrack – “Honey Honey” or “Ring Ring” (did they do them in the movie?). This song was “The Winner Takes it All” and Meryl was in full flight. The only problem is that she has a limited voice and an overly dramatic bent. The song kept building and building and Meryl was getting louder and louder, attempting a chest voice but without much success, until she was basically screeching into the microphone. Knowing the original version of the song so well, and not having been dragged into the “moment” by having seen Meryl’s (I’m sure heartwarming) acting prowess, I was left with simply a voice and music. It was H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E. I thought that perhaps Borders was trying to drive customers out of the store for an emergency drill, but no. I feared that blood would drip from my ears as my ear-drums perforated and, wondering whether I would be able to ever hear again, I tried to take solace in the Travel section.
The bitch finally stopped singing and I thought the horror was over.
Then a man starts demolishing my second favourite ABBA song: “Our Last Summer”. When I was in Paris ten years ago I sang “Our Last Summer” to myself in the Champ de Mars – “We made our way along the river and we sat down in the grass, by the Eiffel Tower…”. If I though Meryl was bad, this guy was the Dr Kavorkian of the airwaves – I certainly know I wanted to kill myself. I will never, ever, go and see the movie of Mamma Mia given my auditory experiences at Borders, but I am assuming that the man singing was either Colin Firth or Pierce Brosnan. Usually you wouldn’t be able to get me out of a Pierce Brosnan movie.
What is it about Hollywood actors that they think they can do everything? At what point do producers pull the plug on the egos of their stars by announcing, regretfully, that the headliners cannot actually sing? When did miming become such a no-no? Did not Audrey Hepburn gain an Oscar nomination (even a win?) for miming to a decent voice in My Fair Lady? Didn’t Natalie Wood gain great fame from also using the voice of Marnie Nixon in West Side Story? Not everyone has looks, acting talent and a great singing voice, why do we insist on authenticity at the expense of a half decent all-round experience?
I’m just saying is all.