Saturday, May 22, 2010
"How am I Supposed to Live Without You" by Michael Bolton (1989)
The song itself barely matters, really: I'd like to nominate the entire recorded works of Michael Bolton for inclusion here. There's not really much I can say here: it's just an aesthetic I find almost physically repulsive. I have given a few of his songs a listen here on YouTube to make sure that this is the singlularly most offensive one, and I can assure you that choosing the worst Michael Bolton song is largely a futile exercise: you could just pull names from a hat. It's guaranteed to be bad.
One important caveat: for what he did to “(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay” and “When a Man Loves a Woman”, he ought to be imprisoned. However, this blog is dedicated to the worst songs, and those are, of course, wonderful songs, merely decimated by the overblown foghorn that is Michael Bolton's voice.
Michael Bolton, to me, represents the worst of plastic mainstream musical insincerity. He grunts, he groans. He winces and squeezes his hands tight in all of his videos. He sounds like the act of singing is causing him physical pain. And yet the net result is entirely lacking in credibility: he has the emotional commitment of Oscar the Grouch singing, “I Love Trash”, and nmo amount of overblown histrionics can change that. And certainly no amount of overblown histrionics can make music this clinical and artificial even apprach 'soul', no matter how much Bolton would like to think otherwise.
Ultimately, this song – presently being foisted upon us in the form of an ad for some prepackaged food – takes the cake merely because not only is it a bad performance, but it's also a bad song. One can excuse the horrible electric piano as 'a product of the times' (though nothing excuses that lead guitar towards the end) and concentrate instead on the vocal performance. Listen, and note the following: note that involuntary wince, that edge of panic you feel when the song approaches its chorus. A chorus is usually meant to be the peak of a song's excitement, but here it's where Bolton gets his screamiest. What amazes me is how vocals this unpleasant on top of a song this cliché were actually marketed as 'romantic' (to say nothing of 'soulful'). I'm trying to imagine using this screeching as accompaniment to any romantic activity whatsoever, and failing miserably.
Which brings to mind the word 'flaccid' – a perfect word to describe this song, which despite all of its huff-and-puff is as empty as a deflated balloon.