I'm going to say something that's slightly controversial: Mary J. Blige ain't the best at singing. I've said this before. In fact the last time I said this publicly, I received this message in my FB inbox:
Aye retarded down syndrome looking faggot did you really just try to convince people that Mary Jane Blige the legend and one of the greatest female vocalist of all time can't sing 2 decades later? That was a fail. I see why your shitty blog don't get no traffic or recognition lol no one with common sense will ever believe you dummy. You typed out all that bs and didn't get no press. Everyone is saying you was smoking crack when you made that list. Everyone on that list got more talent in there pinky than you have in your whole body u shitty breath faggot. That's why they rich and you broke lol broke fag
That's a real message by the way.
Anyway, while Mary J. Blige ain't exactly the best singer she is a legend. And I'm okay with that. The problem is, Mary gets asked to use her singing voice for things. Sometimes it goes terrible but is comedic in the most hilarious fashion. That Burger King commercial where she's singing about chicken? That shit kinda goes. And at the VERY least, it cracked 100 on the unintentional comedy meter.
Unfortunately, on the OTHER end of the spectrum we have this recent promo for Mary J. Blige's new show on Apple Music, The 411, a throwback title if you're a fan of cracked-out Mary that you can appreciate while still feeling like its soooo cliché. Also, has anybody actually dialed 411 since the Internet became a thing? I can hear people under-25 right now wondering what in the hell "411" means.
In the one-minute promo video, Mary J. Blige is singing what can only be described as something she should have just said to Hillary Clinton because her take is one of the most cringeworthy singing of songs (can you call it a song? sung poem? what the fuck do we call it when people sing words they should just say?) I've heard in a good long while. [EDIT: She is singing part of Bruce Springsteen's song "American Skin (41 Shots)", a tribute to Amadou Diallo. She should stop.] It reminds me of that time my cousin wrote a poem/song and sang it at my great-grandfather's funeral, which to that point had been a pretty somber occasion until she got up on the microphone. Thank goodness we were at a funeral so its hard to differentiate laughs from crying because all of us who were pallbearers had to put our heads down to stifle the laughter. Seriously, we're talking a top 10 funeral moment ever. Also, Funeral Top 10 moments aren't a thing.
Also, what the fuck is American skin, Mary? Who paid for this? Who greenlit this? I'm sure the show will be fine. This promo? Not so much.
The real champion of the short clip is Hillary Clinton who has put on her most serious political face ever. Look, you and I both know she was holding it together with every fiber of her being. She wanted to laugh. Anybody sitting in that position would laugh; I don't give a shit if it was Mary J. Blige singing or Whitney Houston. In fact, the only person who could sing those shenanigans in earnest would be Alicia Keys, who most certainly would not be wearing makeup at the time. But Hills holds its together and listens intently as if what Mary is singing is both pivotal and listenable. It's neither.
It should just be said.
In fact, if you were to tell me that Mary was trolling Hillary I'd believe you. So let me get this right, she's supposed to listen to you sing this pseudo-heartfelt-song about police brutality with THOSE glasses on and not laugh? I'm sure they're fashionable but we're asking a lot here. With that my first Casio keyboard riff in the background? They really put Hillary in a precarious position there. If she laughs, she's laughing about a serious subject so she just had to sit there and listen and then Mary grabs her hand and you know Hillary almost yelled out "OH COME ON".
The good thing is that for all of you who have been looking for that one song to really explain your feelings to sing to white people, now you have it. Just make sure you grab their hands when you get to "American skin." I think thats what makes it resonate.