VH1's annual "Divas" spectacle aired Thursday. Two hours of overly emoting, overly styled, and overly self-conscious chicks on a mediocre musical parade led by crazy fallen "American Idol" priestess Paula Abdul.
All I can say is thank god for Cyndi Lauper. She brought the night's only dose of sincerity with her "True Colors" revival. Over 20 years later, Lauper looks hotter than ever and is a desperately needed reminder of what it means to have soul. And who followed her? Miley Cyrus who reminded the audience (via a pre-taped segment) that she is "cool and a diva" and that she wants to change the world. She didn't say for better or worse. I have my opinions.
The word "diva" has to be the most overused and misappropriated word in the music business (next to "genius"). It also ignores a whole group of females who have spent a lifetime making music which goes deeper than eye shadow. Give me a woman who sweats over a guitar any day.
Here's my anti-diva list. No Maybelline sponsorships. No sequins. No gowns. Just raw sensuality, charm, and brains as only a true woman can provide. These anti-divas derive strength from the power of their musical prowess. They don't employ stylists - just guitar techs.
Chrissie Hynde is the coolest woman alive and no man can have her. She was too much woman for the Kinks' Ray Davies and too strong for Simple Minds' Jim Kerr. She wears stilettos only to leave a souvenir when she walks over you. She says it best herself: "I'm too precious. F**k off."
The late, great Janis Joplin could drink ten men under the table then sing loud enough to shake the teeth out of their head. She was full of pathos, passion, and pure sexual energy. Totally unscripted without a net. If she bothered to wear makeup, it would have been chasing the sweat and tears down her face.
Raitt is a red-haired raven who plays the bottlenecked slide guitar like many men would love to play her. She's been schooled by the blues and seasoned by thousands of miles on the road. She's laid back in a way that only an anti-diva can be. Not a histrionic bone in her bluesy body.
Chapman is the earth mother to us all, burrowing into your heart with just her unaccompanied voice (listen to "Behind the Wall" from her 1988 self-titled debut for proof). She was pure acoustic soul long before India.Arie claimed it.
Jones can jump from jazz to folk to country to rock all with the same effortless understatement that eludes most bombastic divas. She possess a sense of musical purpose you'd expect from the daughter of an Indian musical master (sitar maestro Ravi Shankar).
Smith is a punk prophetess who rules with a book of poetry filled with hard truths about the cruel contradictions of this world. She has no time for niceties or music that is trivial. For her - and those who dare to listen - song and voice are matters of life and death.
Jett turns 51 on September 22. She still looks like a young runaway looking to join a leather clad rock band. Jett is part of a fast dying breed: hard women who rock even harder without a shred of premeditation. She's pure rock gut instinct.
Mitchell is a painter, a jazz spirit, and a folk godmother. She's way too smart to put up with record business b.s. anymore. Instead, she opts for a vision that's all her own and not property of a star-making focus group.
Any chick who plays flute and sings like Robert Plant is alright with me. Plus, she has a sister who's a guitar slinging sex goddess. Ann Wilson is a hard rock (anti) diva. I even forgive her for the big-haired, corporate rock '80s period.
Feist is frumpy, neo-folkie cool and can count with Elmo. What else do you need? Oh yeah…she plays banjo. Banjos are the ultimate anti-diva instrument. I wish she was my prom date. I'd buy her a sock puppet corsage and we'd slow dance to Broken Social Scene who would most certainly be the prom band.