Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tanel, Oleg and Mark

Those of you familiar with American Idol probably already know it is a spin-off of Britain’s Pop Idol from back in the day when Simon What’s-his-name first became a household name. And it is not the only spin-off. The whole world, it would appear, is dying to worship at the feet of idols.

There’s Tanel Padar, for example, of Estonia’s Pop Idol program, Eesti otsib superstaari. He likes to walk down the street with no shirt on – no mean feat in Tallinn, Estonia, where the temperature today (I just checked) has a high of 37 and a low of 17 degrees Fahrenheit, singing rock music in English.

You can of course hear it in the original Estonian, if you prefer.

Then there’s the winner of Kazakhstan’s SuperStar KZ, Oleg Karezin, , singing Russia’s number one pop song of all time, “Moscow Nights”. Which says what must be volumes about Russian/Kazakh relations these days, if I only knew how to read the real scoop in Kazakh. Qazak. Whatever. Strikes me as sort of like winning a national singing contest for singing “Home on the Range.” But what do I know.

To add the sublimely absurd to the gag me with a spoon curious, Oleg, complete with soldier jacket hooked over the shoulder, also does Tyomnaya Noch (Dark Night) - a super-sentimental Russian war song of loss and homesickness and all those other soulful Russian things only Russians can sing about because of generations of inherited pain from the time the Tatars invaded.

Only now the kids can’t tell the song from Home on the Range/Moscow Nights/You are my sunshine.

But seriously, folks. Tyomnaya Noch! Watching Oleg do this is like fingernails on a blackboard. I’m a died-in-the-wool fan of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the opera singer with the magical stage presence that goes on and on. Once you’ve heard him do Tyomnaya Noch, this pop version will make you throw your face in your hands and sob.

Or maybe not. Maybe you like these young pop idol thingies.

Another one I’m trying to get some perspective on is this German winner. The German Pop Idol is called DSDS (Deutschland Sucht den Superstar/Germany’s looking for the superstar), a dumb name, but what did you expect, "Marlene sings Fledermaus"?

Anyway, the winner of the 2007 DSDS (by 78% in the final round) and current heartthrob is a guy called Mark Medlock. Now here’s an interesting guy. He has all the stuff that puts the pop into pop idol. Remember Susan Boyle? The frumpy dumpy woman with limited social skills and a voice to make grown men cry? Up out of nowhere?

Well, Mark Medlock was a garbage collector, among other things. Born of an African-American father and a German mother, he dropped everything to nurse his mother at the end of her life and his father died of a heart attack a couple years after. He’s now making a name for himself doing very sexy Latin/Caribbean kinds of music.

I know the German preoccupation with race and all that crap is long gone, but you still wonder if Hitler and Goebbels and the boys (curses be upon their names) aren’t twisting mightily in their graves. Representing Germany like this and being adored by children. A black German.

And if that weren’t enough, note this little side bit of info in Wikipedia on the guy:
In 2001 Medlock married his former boyfriend. The couple eventually got divorced in 2004, and Mark moved into a living community with his three cats Aragon, Cookies, and Heaven.
Sometimes the world is actually fun.

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