At the recent Grammy Awards the producers were constantly talking about artists they were throwing together for ‘once in a lifetime’ performances you ‘won’t want to miss’. But in reality the Coldplay / Rihanna medley was the perfect example of how lousy they were – she sang her song, they sang their song, and in between they sang a duet song about 10 feet apart with Rihanna never really acknowledging Chris Martin and the whole thing reminding you that just because two artists appear on a song together doesn’t mean they have ever met.
A magic combination can’t be forced or mass-produced. Like any pairing, their needs to be natural chemistry and a transformative effect wherein the combined work of two people is better than either could manage alone. That is what we have here with Karen Carpenter and Ella Fitzgerald.
Ella Fitzgerald and Karen Carpenter are two of the great voices of popular music, and a reminder of just how far we have fallen in the pop world in terms of expecting someone to actually have the ability to sing. Neither of these singers was in great health at the time of this 1980 TV recording. Ella was struggling with her health due to the effects of diabetes, and you can see she is losing her vision by the thickness of her glasses and you can also detect her lack of mobility as she remains in one place. Karen Carpenter is still young and beautiful, but her face clearly shows the effects of years of anorexia eating her away until she died a couple of years later.
But while the sights might be a bit sad – once these two master songbirds open their mouths, out pours pure beauty and joy. They sing a medley, which only makes me wish more that someone had said ‘let’s take this into the studio’ and gotten album out of this!