As rumors trickle out about potential Rolling Stones 50th anniversary shows, here comes fall TV’s reality show season, once again shining a light on classic catalogs and sending artistic creativity scurrying into the shadows.
To wit, the latest season of NBC’s singing competition series “The Voice” began with a cover of the Stones’ classic “Start Me Up,” courtesy of the show’s four judges, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton. If there’s ever been a more cringe-inducing take on the song from A-list stars, Pop & Hiss would prefer to remain ignorant of it.
Though please watch the video and judge for yourself. Maybe we’re just cranky because it’s the end of summer. And perhaps the sanitized lead guitar and puppy-dog hiss from Levine really is just what the song needed. Or maybe the song was always crying out for a ticker-tape-like parade presentation and a diva growl.
To be fair, “The Voice” -- or “American Idol” or “The X-Factor” -- isn’t where anyone turns to hear a smoldering version of any song. Increasingly, these shows exist solely to show the viewing public a nonperforming glimpse of popular artists playing the role of teacher, and the drama isn’t who wins, but who judges (see the ongoing, is-he-in or is-he-gone saga of “Idol’s” Randy Jackson).
Still, we are talking about some of our country’s biggest stars tackling a song every music fan knows inside and out. It deserves a little more than Shelton and Aguilera spinning around in a rotating chair as if they’re singing on a Tilt-a-Whirl.
Then again, who are we kidding? The Stones haven’t exactly made an effort to preserve the integrity of the song, either.
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