Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Video of the week

Usher recreating one of cinema's most glorious moments, Gene Kelly singing in the rain in, well, Singing in the Rain. The R&B star, who did the filmed routine for an awards ceremony called Movies Rock, turns in a vigorous, stylish performance that honors its inspiration well.

Perhaps a comparison to Kelly, a god in the pantheon of the American movie musical, would be unfair--but, as this companion video shows, also inevitable and fascinating. Usher, as good a hoofer as he is, simply can't hold a candle to Kelly. His nearly step-by-step facsimile of the original sequence is flawless, and yet it's merely dancing, small and pinched when placed side by side with Kelly's elegant, exuberantly athletic turn on that soggy street.

Still, this is Usher--doing Singing in the Rain. After he's played Billy Flynn in Chicago on Broadway. Props to him for his obvious affection for musicals, whether of the stage or screen. He should do the Leading Player in Pippin next; his vibe recalls Ben Vereen, who got a Tony for the part. Or how about another narrator, El Gallo in The Fantasticks? Usher singing Try to Remember--now that'd be sweet.

PLUS: More Rain-y riffs--figure-skating champion Kurt Browning dancing the sequence on ice (beautiful!); Mint Royale's techno showdown; the charismatic Jamie Cullum retooling the song into a jazz-rock ditty; Volkswagen's nifty Gene Kelly breakdancing ad; George Sampson wowing Simon Cowell et al in Britain's Got Talent with a hip-hop version; and the craziest--What if George Lucas restored Singing in the Rain?


stevie said...

I saw Usher as Billy Flynn on Broadway. Though a good dancer and singer, Usher was disappointing. Your comments on Usher's take on Kelly is right smack.

What he needs to do (my two cents lang) is to make a role his own. Add "Usher" to the personality of the role or character, rather than just do what the orchestrator, choreographer and director tells him to do. This explains why the Kelly imitation doesn't work. Maybe he should have just used Kelly as inspiration and see what comes of it.

Sounds like a great idea to do Pippin, but I already have apprehensions because it is another Fosse production like Chicago.

stevie said...

Correction lang po on my earlier post: Your comments on Usher's take on Kelly ARE right smack.

I think the better way to put is Usher should do a remake rather than a cover.

I loved Kurt Browning's version. That's exactly what I mean: make it your own.

gibbs cadiz said...

STEVIE, agree! he has to own the part. but i suppose that's what separates the great from the merely competent. :)

beektur said...

he should have thrown away his umbrella and hat, took off his coat, shirt and pants and tap-danced happily in the rain with nothing but his tap shoes. imagine that when he got under the water spout? we would not only have owned the role but would set a new standard against which all other revivals would be measured.

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