Pop Goes Jazz (Music Thoughts: Now Then, Fem Belling)

1485193300_folderFem Belling, apparently,  is originally from South Africa, but now resides in Australia. She was a contestant in the Australian version of ‘The Voice,’ and has now released a jazz album.  But this is not your usual run-of-the-mill jazz vocals album, because in ‘Now Then,’ she covers some very well known pop songs of today, and gives them jazzy arrangements. The result? It mostly doesn’t work for me, as I sometimes sense that she is trying just a bit too hard trying to translate this songs for jazz listeners. She opens the album with Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself,’ and that was embarrassing, in my opinion, because what made that song great was Eminem’s rage, and by her taking that out in her version, the song just lays flat in her arms. And while ‘Physical’ is a cute 80s pop, it’s not really much of a song, and no amount of rearranging can salvage it. Pharrel’s ‘Happy’ sounds a little better, though you feel like she is singing a different song in her version (That may be good or bad) One song that works well in her reinvention is ‘Moves Like Jagger,’ but maybe that’s because it’s very close to the original, arrangement wise. I didn’t much enjoy this album, for sure, but I am glad there are artists like belling who try to break the mold.

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