The Blues has lately become a “modern musical ghetto” for non-Blues performers like Cyndi Lauper and Hugh Laurie and their ilk who are bored with their current lot in life and so they take the next easiest route back to feigned admiration by “making a Blues album” as a one-off for fun. Hugh Laurie’s latest musical miasma landed on September 6, 2011 and I am absolutely confounded by his mock singing style and his cynical delivery. The guy cannot loft a tune, so why make an album? Why did Hugh Laurie think we’d want to pay $10.00USD for his musical masturbation in the public square?
If a star in one genre is making a Blues album in a secondary genre, you can be certain their career is on on a steep decline and they’re desperately looking for another revenue avenue. Country music has that same sort of career desperation album — see Jeff Bridges as the most recent example — but The Blues is supposed to be the sacred higher art form, and so you get a much braver attempt at covering the desperation.
The work Clapton has done in the Blues — resurrecting Robert Johnson is a prime example — is admirable, and necessary, and we forever owe him for carrying the torch forward. Who’s next in line to take up where Clapton left off? We now know the answer is definitely not Hugh Laurie.
Jazz, unlike the Blues, is a much harder genre to fake — and that’s why you see so few “failing celebrity” attempts at a Jazz album. You gotta have the chops to play Jazz and its stunning chord melodies, and the musical effort quickly becomes obvious if the attempt is serious or not.
When pseudo-celebrities decide to make a Blues album, we are all wounded by the effort because the cheapening of the history of the Blues confounds the line between true suffering and faux restlessness. When celebrities suck up all the air in the Blues niche, there isn’t any breathing room left for new Blues geniuses like Sean Costello or Andy Poxon to thrive — and that makes these celebrity Blues albums a crime against artistry as well as a defamation of our shared, historical, aesthetic.