I’m an acknowledged fan of musical fusions, and everyone with any sense knows that mixing the two best musical genres (pop and opera) can only result in good things.
Malena Ernman appears to be a fine singer; I’m by no means an expert judge of these things, but she has sung several operatic roles (she even started before she was thirty!), has an active concert life, and seems to be managing a healthy mix of the operatic and popular music careers. She of course decided to represent her native Sweden in the battle for music’s highest accolade, the Eurovision:
The album she released around this time had one disc of pop/opera crossover tracks, and another of straight recordings of classical arias. I applaud the idea behind this – use the pop songs to get people to buy the album and hear the classical music – but the fact remains that pop, sung in an operatic voice, rarely works well:
I feel bad being so critical, because she genuinely does seem to be a good singer, but these fusions just don’t work, from either a pop point of view or an operatic one. Malena Ernman has probably made the best attempts at combining these two styles of any I’ve heard so far, and they’re still terrible. The fact that it’s particularly dull, middle of the road pop doesn’t help I suppose, but I still suspect that’s only part of the problem.
The first video in particular, though, holds a special place in my heart. Rather than just singing pop lyrics in an operatic voice, she takes a famous aria, sings the bulk of it English, and puts it over a crappy Eurodance beat. It’s such a marvellous train wreck that I can’t help love it. Definitely satisfies my taste in terrible music.
When I said that hers are the best attempts at combining pop and opera, I wasn’t being entirely truthful: the famous Diva scene from the film The Fifth Element is both beautiful and impressive, and works well as a fusion.
(If anyone has a link for a high-quality version with both video and sound, please tell me!)