It’s always an immensely sad moment in entertainment history when a movie actor steps forward to pretend, and then claim in an unfortunate public, on-the-record, performance, that they can sing when they cannot. We last saw that sort of faux singing in Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash movie and now, today, we have the same inglorious example in Gwyneth “The Goop” Paltrow’s incredibly bad turn in her new movie, “Country Strong.” Here is a screenshot of Paltrow recently “singing live” at the Country Music Awards. She closes her eyes throughout most of the song as she tries to land the right notes in a simple melody. Gwyneth sings. We cringe.
It really takes incredible gall for an ordinary movie actor to step forward and suggest, “Oh, I sing like a superstar, too.” Broadway actors can generally sing and dance and act pretty well — movie actors are almost always less talented in every way than what you’ll find in the cast of any Broadway chorus.
Singers generally have more common sense than actors and rarely venture into the acting field to challenge the calling of their originating talent.
For Paltrow to brazenly step forward into a singing role she is not prepared to perform or able to effectively embed in our national consciousness is the epitome of an insulated talent with little-to-no exposure to a mainstream reality.
Paltrow is clearly surrounded by “yes folk” who tell her what she wants to hear in order to earn a paycheck or to keep their tended relationship with her intact. That sort of pampered isolation can congeal assent in dangerous ways that can damage the immediacy of a talent and the long term prospects of a career moving forward.
Here is the Official Country Strong video where you can see the pampered and protected Paltrow “singing” —
Now, here is the much more telling, real live voice of Paltrow mangling the same song in performance at the CMA Awards as she squints and closes her eyes in an attempt to while away her breathless, wispy, monotone from our ears:
It’s funny how little non-singers think of Country Music that they believe they can just step forward and decide to become Country Singing Stars. I think of Paltrow and Phoenix and Julianna Hough and Marla Maples and Gennifer Flowers as quick examples of those who, when facing a bored or declining career, decided to “Go Country” to revive their sagging celebrity.
They didn’t try to become Opera singers or Heavy Metal rockers or Blues performers — where their voices would actually be tested in the arena of a live performance — they instead opted for the easier way of “Going Country” to become a humalong, karaoke-like, performer hoping to squeeze just a few more dollars from a fading, and often infamous, mainstream public persona.
Let’s hope Gwyneth Paltrow learns her “Country Strong” lesson and leaves the singing to the real singers and just fades away into the bad memory of a failed reincarnation.