As we await tonight’s Emmys let’s take a moment to reflect on the rarified air Tina Turner was breathing in the 1980’s and 90’s. When she made her startling comeback she went from R&B has-been to a rock star whose net worth rapidly approached Mick and Keith’s. Her international success brought her major corporate backing.
Because she was not a songwriter most of her new material was selected by her label and management group. Apparently when you’re that big of a star songs are constantly pitched to you. Although she had a say in what she would do and definitely put her stamp on everything she did, some of the material did come across as corporately safe and overly focus grouped.
One song that was pitched directly to her and that she fell in love with was Simply the Best. When she took it to the suits they wanted nothing to do with it. A long fight ensued until Tina finally won it. It became her signature song from the latter part of her career.
I love the Bolero build to it but the real hook is that little fatalistic riff in the chorus they keep hammering home. Dah-na, na-na. It still gives me goose bumps. It’s reminiscent of the one from Santa Claus is Coming to Town on the Phil Spector Christmas album.
When Tina performs The Best at Wembley it becomes a bombastic anthem. She’s definitely feeling it but does most of the song with her eyes closed. Probably because to entertain 60,000 people you need about 100 billion watts of strobe going off in your face. It’s a wonder she didn’t go over the lip of the stage. Or have an epileptic fit.
The highlight comes towards the end of the song after she lines up with her girls to do their high-heeled shuffle. As they finish she takes one step out of it then does this joyous half kick. It’s so Tina. Such a proud pony.
In Schitt’s Creek David and his new boyfriend and partner Patrick are lamenting the fact they have no business. After their big opening they are not getting any foot traffic. They brainstorm ways to bring in customers.
Patrick thinks they need to get the community involved and suggests an open mike party. My reaction was the same as David in the show: please don’t. Nothing good ever comes out of sitcom characters trying to do poignant songs. They’re always unwatchable.
Patrick wins out and does the opening number. Things get even worse when he dedicates the song to his new love. I sat clutching the club chair, pulling the mohair off the arm rests, wondering if I could bear to look.
His song began simply enough with this atonal Segovia filigree around lyrics he was racing through. I knew the song but couldn’t figure it out. Then he got to the chorus and the riff. It was Simply the Best, completely stripped down.
Noah Reid who played Patrick did the arrangement himself. There was a little Nutbush in it but it had a heavier Ramblin’ Jack Elliot/Bleecker Street overlay. Babe. Reid took a potentially cringeworthy moment and turned it into one of lighthearted magic. Just watch Catherine O’Hara’s uncontrived reaction. It became the fulcrum of the entire series. If we can get through that okay we can get through anything.
To round things off, when the couple have a week-long spat David makes amends by serenading him with you know what. This song has bones.