With a new, much-hyped Divas special debuting on VH1 this week, perhaps we should pause and consider what the term really means. "Diva" is the feminine form of the Latin word for god, divus. It is also commonly used in reference to operatic prima donnasexceptional female opera singers. Combine the two meanings and you've got a word that describes mega-talented women who behave like goddesses. Today, however, the word "diva" is used to label any female singer with enough hype to get booked onto VH1's annual show. The title of diva ought to be awarded to only those singers who've earned the right to claim it through years of personal trauma, emotional public displays, inhuman vocal chops, or great personal strength. True divas that come to mind include Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Whitney Houston. The following VH1 divas are little more than wannabes with good publicists.
Anastacia: Who in the hell is Anastacia? Well, according to VH1's online bio, she made an appearance on MTV's talent show The Cut and got a label dealthough her debut proved "more popular in Europe than her homeland." Oh, the suffering.
The Dixie Chicks: They're much, much too happy. And do kicky, country-inflected pop songs count as diva material? Never.
LeAnn Rimes: So you've covered a Prince song. Did you do it while wearing ass-less pants? No. No diva card for you.
Did you see that VH1 Before They Were Rock Stars showcasing teenaged Shania's teeth (or rather the shocking lack of them)? A real diva would've burned that tape and killed anyone ever associated with it long, long ago. And although she does wear silly outfits onstage, they do little to distract you from the fact that her pipes are middling at best.
Look around any Middle American mall, Faith Hill, and there you'll be. A glammed-up country gal with a gummy smile popping out children regularly is about as diva-like as a Chrysler minivan. Dump the balding beau-hunk and start beating those kids with some wire hangers, then we'll see about calling you a diva.
Oh good heavens. She's this year's Paula Cole. And who remembers anything about that poor girl except those un-diva-like hairy pits? Nelly Furtado is not even worth considering. Turn out the lights and fly away little bird.
Channeling the histrionic vocal stylings of Patti LaBelle and Mariah Carey does not a diva make. Unless there's a public nervous breakdown in the near future, this fluffy little lap dog should stay on the porch.
"She's taken over pop the last few months," raves VH1's website, though they don't say in what country. While the Colombian pop singer has indeed charted here with her first English release, Laundry Service, it's mostly been due to the fact that the media has shoved her down the throat of every living American. But endless waves of hype and promises that she's our next "crossover" Latin artist don't disguise the fact that her on-camera schtick is warmed-over Charo, and her lyrics sound like something picked at random from a Learn English book.
May 23, 2002
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