The end of the year is a time for reflection about the significant events and moments that have shaped the past 12 months and brought us to the brink of another year. There’s also usually some discussion of the year’s most popular musical offerings, with even Barack Obama gracing us with the list of his favourite songs of 2018. But for me, it’s individual performances that matter most, and there’s no doubt that 2018 has been a big year with some stellar performances of some old standards and classics brought to new life by those we don’t usually recognise as singers.
In that spirit, here are my awards for the best song performances of 2018:
Best Solo Performance – French President, Emmanuel Macron for his rendition of Everybody Loves Me, Baby.
This was the toughest category by far and almost resulted in a tie with the clueless narcissism of Malcolm Turnbull’s post-dumping performances (don’t worry – Malcolm picks up a gong in one of our later categories). Macron won out, though, mostly because of his decision to deliver his televised speech to the French nation from a gilded room of the Élysée Palace. No lyric rewrites were necessary for this one. These words from Don McLean’s song on the legendary American Pie album of 1971, were just perfect for the occasion:
Yes, and the ocean parts when I walk through, and the clouds dissolve and the sky turns blue
I’m held in very great value by everyone I meet but you
’cause I’ve used my talents as I could, I’ve done some bad, I’ve done some good
I did a whole lot better than they thought I would so, c’mon and treat me like you should!
Best Gospel Performance – #Believe all women in conjunction with the broader #MeToo movement for their ongoing performances of I Believe.
Written by Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl and Al Stillman in 1953, Frankie Laine’s version of this song of faith was a best-seller around the world. Fast forward to 2018 and faith is a totally different beast, so the lyrics were in dire need of a feminist re-write. We all know what they came up with:
I believe that every woman tells the truth and cannot err
I believe that throwing out the rules of evidence is fair
Every time I hear a Hollywood feminist cry
The presumption of innocence should not apply
Then I know why I believe
Best Blues Performance – former Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull for his plaintive reprise of Can’t Buy Me Love.
In the wake of his ousting from the country’s top job Turnbull’s tweets, public appearances, and his heart-rending self-analysis on Q & A showed us all that Malcolm just really wants to be loved. In the process, he proved what The Beatles knew way back in 1964. Malcolm’s lyrics ran something like this:
Say there’s nothing wrong with the price of power
And I’ll be satisfied
Tell me I’m the Liberal Party’s finest hour
And it’s been one big joyride
I’ve proved you can do a lot with money
But money can’t buy me love.
Best Live Performance – the Queensland Parliament for its high-five, triumphal performance of Killing Me Softly.
The Termination of Pregnancy Bill was passed into law in October 2018 when a choir of 51 members of Queensland Parliament voted in favour of the legislation. One of the world’s most extreme abortion laws, it denies not only the rights of the unborn right up to birth in some cases but also those of doctors and nurses with conscientious objections. There were cheers, tears of joy and loud applause in the chamber for this performance with updated lyrics:
We vote that you can kill them
For us, no dark despair
We have looked right through them
And said they just aren’t there.
And we just kept on cheering,
Clapping clear and strong.
Killing them softly with our vote,
Killing them softly with our vote,
Stealing their whole lives with our vote,
Killing them softly with our vote.
Best Duet – Prime Minister of The United Kingdom, Theresa May, and European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union, Michel Barnier, for their performance of Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers introduced this George and Ira Gershwin break-up song in the 1937 film, Shall We Dance. May and Bernier ‘s version, just like the original, also includes some admirable slides, spins and tap-dancing, all while on roller skates!
Things have come to a pretty pass
Our romance is growing flat
For you like this and the other
While I go for this and that
Goodness knows what the end will be;
Oh, I don’t know where I’m at…
Geraldine Massey is a Brisbane writer.
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