Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Björk's Amazing "The Voice" Audition Must Be Seen to Be Believed

Article written by George Stefano Pallas, of course.

Monday night’s episode of The Voice was as riveting and inspirational as ever, proving once again why we tune in twice a week for four hours to hear people sing karaoke versions of popular songs and receive unconditional praise from a panel of four artistically suspect judges.  A transgendered lesbian father of two chihuahuas wowed Christina Aguilera by singing Stay With Me by Tom Petty, from which she claimed that she deduced that he was gay before he even saw her, and that was why she wanted her on his team.

Other standouts in the season 10 premiere included an EPA student intern who did a stripped-down cover of the classic pop song Burn Burn Burn Burn, a 4-year-old ballet artist who brought the house down with Born In The U.S.A., and an African-American police officer who has used the pacifistic, masturbatory anthems of Justin Bieber to make it through times of extreme internal dissonance.  By the end of the night the coaches retired with a roughly equal number of soul and country singers, while Adam Levine took one delicate coffeehouse pop singer who pretended to play guitar under his wing.

The most surprising audition of the night came completely out of left field, in a spunky Icelandic woman whose giant voice and spirit more than compensate for her diminutive aspect.  Björk Guðmundsdóttir has been a singer, songwriter, and producer on nine weakly-selling studio albums, seven live records, five remix collections, two experimental film soundtracks, an ironically titled Greatest Hits album, and even a questionable collaboration with Death Grips, which CMT dubbed the Worst Band in the World.  That’s not even counting all the vocals she contributed to side-projects with K.U.K.L., The Sugarcubes, and a bunch of other now retired bands.  But Björk’s days of fooling around and making self-absorbed music for her own indulgent pleasure are over.  Now she’s aiming to hit it big time and become a serious, chart-topping artist.

“All my life has felt like a succession of commercial failures and almost, not-quite breakthroughs,” said Björk to the camera before her audition.  “It’s like the industry only ever wants to make room for women who start on the Disney Channel, don’t stand up to the studio heads, and act like f***ing strippers.  That’s why I’ve decided to go on The Voice, a show where nobody cares where you come from or what you look like.”

Not that that matters, because Björk looked absolutely stunning going into her blind audition, decked out in a gorgeous r**skin-themed eagle dress and sleek, science-fiction-themed eye makeup.  Facing the backs of the four notorious chairs, she later said she was so overwhelmed in the presence of her elfin woman-child adulthood idols that she wanted to disappear.

“I was about to embarrass myself in front of Blake Shelton, who’s done so much for the progression of music he’s not even funny.”  When the spotlight fell on her, though, she fearlessly rose to the occasion, and soon the whole audience was transfixed, completely lost for words and thoughts that weren’t related to how scary they find Donald Trump.  For a moment Björk was worried she wouldn’t get anybody to turn, but when Christina pressed down firmly on her button and spun around with a look of utter bafflement, that was all the confirmation she needed to carry on and knock it out of the park.

Christina was struck immediately by the appearance of the singer, jumping out of her chair and exuberantly applauding, as they do.  “OK, OK, OK.  I can do something with this,” she said.  “I don’t know what these guys to my left and right were thinking, but with your girl power and my coaching, I know the two of us have got this.”

With such a widely documented shortage of strong female and international performers on the show, which remains the most watched and influential karaoke singing competition in America, it’s a miracle that the two white male judges and obligatory diverse one didn’t act more enthusiastic to welcome Björk to their teams.  “You obviously have a lot of potential,” said Adam Levine, “And I think that this show can do amazing things for you.  That’s the magic of The Voice and having such an incredible network of teachers at your beck and call.  But I think another song would have been much more fitting for your voice as well as popular with the audience.  When we get to the live performances, you need to have them singing along and not even listening to what you’re doing, because then you’re screwed.”

Björk had opted to sing an original composition called Human Behaviour, the melody of which she wrote as a teenager.  “I wanted to sing an original song because many of my favorite artists from The Voice have done so on at least one point or another, and I wanted to carry that mantle for my predecessors,” said Björk.  “Javier Colon, Cassadee Pope, Tessanne Chin, Dia Frampton, Josh Kaufman: all of them not just major inspirations to me but indispensable forces of creative passion who are revolutionizing music as we know it.  Whereas people like Claire Boucher and Brian Eno, Michael Gira, you know, freaking Thom Yorke, Jason Pierce, and M.I.A. have been making really stale, boring, and unimaginative music that’s basically screaming Awards Bait, contestants on The Voice have been at the forefront of changing and advancing what we think of when we think of music, and I think that’s really important.”

In atypical fashion, Human Behaviour isn’t about a failed romantic relationship or normative modes of sexual communication at the club or sensations induced by the consumption of hallucinatory drugs.  Rather, the indefinable tribal dance beat depicts a universe governed by chaos from the view of an animal who’s observing and musing on the actions of higher mammals.  The line “There’s definitely, definitely, definitely no logic to human behavior” encapsulates Björk’s atheistic philosophy that humanity is bound to irrational animalism and amorality.  This is driven home by the wailing refrain, “And there is no map, insanity!”  In a world without Deus, even the instinctive actions of animals make more sense than the behavior of humans trapped in a delusional mindset that they’re acting with some sort of reason.

When she heard Adam’s advice about the inexpediency of her esoteric song choice, Björk laughed out loud and agreed wholeheartedly.  “That’s literally not even my best song.”

Pharrell also had mixed feelings on Björk’s risky performance, adding, “I wouldn’t say you knocked it out of the park, and I wouldn’t quite claim you brought the whole house down, and I wouldn’t go so far as to call it the bomb, and I definitely wasn’t blown away, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying that you killed it – sorry, Christina.”  Ultimately, though, he concluded on a positive note, calling hers “one of the best performances I’ve seen all night” and saying, “I think this is going to be the most talented season of the show we’ve ever had.”

Blake on the other hand encouraged her to branch out in the future and utilize her full range of abilities while performing.  “If you maybe played or convinced us you were playing two or three chords on an acoustic guitar for the first half of the first verse, it would make the whole thing so much more impressive and authentic.  You’ve proven you can sing the crap out of any song and in your own style, but we’re looking for a person who has the complete package, if you know what I mean.”

As per usual, Christina was overjoyed and had few constructive criticisms, though she encouraged her new team member to find the human connection in the lyrics and address the words to somebody in particular. “There’s so many cute boys out there in the crowd who’d love to be with you.  Just pick one out at random, imagine that you’re singing this to him, and I promise it’ll do wonders for your self-confidence on stage.  I’m not a sexist, it’s just true.”

Björk is definitely a different kind of vocalist, but if we’ve learned anything from the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, it’s that being different isn’t always a bad thing.  With a little lipstick and the collective brainstorming of the world’s most accomplished songwriters, producers, and mentors, The Voice may finally hammer this young woman of 50 years and about 20 albums into the pop star she was always meant to be.  Her competition will be extremely fierce, but as we know, the beauty of The Voice is that no artist – not even one as singular as Björk – leaves unchanged.  Or unimproved.

“I’m not going to come out and brag that I’m training any of the greatest singers who’ve, like, ever lived,” Christina humbly explained to Entertainment Weekly, “But I definitely have high hopes for Björk and what we can turn her into.  Possibly maybe she might just be America’s next Voice.”

Watch Björk's incredible blind audition below, plus an interview with a useful asshole.

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