Monday, February 25, 2013
Oscars 2013 : Dame Shirley Bassey
If British spy James Bond can't be called upon to save the mishandling of pop music by the 2013 Oscars, producers did at least book the next best thing: Shirley Bassey. The vocalist, now in her 70s, has defined what has now become a genre, Bond music.
A Bond song must feel royal in its presentation, but also have a hint that something is amiss. Sometimes the booming orchestra can act as a moody foil for its vocalist, and other times the singer can become the antithesis of the Bond-girl seductress. Usually this is achieved by singing with a no-frills coldness. Bassey's Bond songs had all of the above, and her best known, "Goldfinger," as evidenced Sunday night (February 24, 2013), is at once over-the-top as well as a study in restraint. Its slowly menacing pace is also able to make a cinematic symphony seem fit for a nightclub.
Her voice has lost a little sharpness, but it has still aged into a rather forceful presence, as Bassey spread her arms, and twisted "Goldfinger" into "goldfingahhh," it was as if she believed at this very moment that the money-obsessed villain of "Goldfinger" was a real-life threat. As the orchestra swelled, Bassey's voice remained largely level. She didn't go to the melody, the melody went to her.