Finding victory in only 3 votes over her nobel competitor, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin takes home the Diva Cup! Congratulations to all who picked her as their brackets winner, and all those who were rooting and voting for this classic #6 seed.
To continue the celebration of our diva-of-choice, take a look at a post I wrote a few years ago for one of my all time favourite albums (that happens to be an Aretha record), I Never Loved A Man (the Way I Love You).
I don’t know what will be next, so please comment below if you have ideas for music that would make for a good brackets tournament for March Music Madness 2017!
And then there were two…
After all the madness, we’ve found ourselves in with a reasonable final match up after all! Although every bracket I’ve seen has been busted, both of these women have been predicted as the ultimate winner of the tournament, and now I am hoping for as close a competition as we had in the UNC/Villanova final game last Monday night. I’m just cheering for a close vote, or something like that, because the truth is, I have argued with myself about who deserves this more: Aretha Franklin or Mariah Carey.
So I don’t know what will happen here, and I promise not to have intense feelings either way. No matter what, I will choose an album for the winner to talk about in a separate blog post next week. As in the final four, polls will be open only until the weekend, but you will be able to vote from your device once every 12 hours. By now you should be very well acquainted with these two legendary divas, so let’s get right to it, shall we?
Actually wait, look what I found. First there’s Mariah singing an Aretha cover.
Now for Aretha covering Mariah….
Yes girl, that happened. And finally, when they appeared on the same stage for the first VH1 Divas performance in 1998.
Ok, now you can vote.
Alright folks, here are the final four of Diva Madness. Before we get to the updated brackets, you should know that the poll settings have changed so that you may vote once a day per device, so make sure to check back and help out your diva of choice. Polls will close on Tuesday, April 5th at midnight, and the final matchup will be posted the next morning. Let’s take a look at the four divas you’ve chosen to represent each era and their road to the final four. Instead of picking one video for the round, I’ll scatter several links to performances and mash ups throughout their introduction. Have fun, and vote responsibly!
She may have started out as a #6 seed, but I doubt that many people are surprised by Aretha’s presence in the final four of Diva Madness. Since starting her musical career solidly in the arena of gospel with the likes of Mahalia Jackson mentoring her throughout the 1950s, she followed her idols Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson into the world of popular rhythm and blues. She began to chart on Billboard in 1961 (at the age of 19), and now holds the record for most charted female artist of all time, with 112 singles in the pop charts, and 100 R&B entries (including albums and singles). Her very first #1 hit became an iconic feminist anthem. She has not lived a life of drama per se, but has perhaps internalized the drama around her, resulting in health challenges including weight fluctuation. Rolling Stone magazine has called Aretha one of their top 10 artists of all time, and the #1 singer of all time.
Annie Lennox is the dark horse of this competition, making her way into the final four as an underdog for most of the tournament. In brutally tight competitions, she took out my personal fave, Janet, and predicted favourite, Whitney, only to finish of Stevie Nicks who made it past both Gloria Estefan and Madonna. She’s proven to be a contender, and every time I talk to folks about this competition I am reminded just how loyal Annie fans are. Though this Scot began her career with the Eurythmics and turned out several #1 hits, it was her solo work in the 90s that elevated Annie to a household name and gave her a place in the diva category, proven by her 1992 album title, Diva. She defies many of the normal diva attributes, both in terms of drama and presentation of gender, but it’s hard to say whether these things are to her advantage or disadvantage in this competition.
She is the last #1 seed left in this competition, making her the diva version of UNC (for the basketball fans out there). She is favoured to win, but that is without factoring in some mad love for Adele since her 25 album and tour. Still, Mariah has the nostalgic factor, representing the era that could be considered the golden period for divas. To get to this place, she has rarely found herself in a close-call situation, always having a clear advantage against Faith Evans, Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, and even most recently, Celine Dion. In terms of diva defining categories, she has an edge in every possible one. Her vocal range is legendary; her runs are unbelievable; her hand motions when she’s doing a run are on point; she has a residency in Vegas and has enough drama and narcissism to star in her own reality show; and she does nearly everything in heels and sequins. On top of that, she is arguably the most successful female artist of all time. Also, have you seen her episode of “Cribs“? The girl is undoubtedly a hustler.
With only 3 albums in less than a decade of recorded music, Adele has already found herself listed with the best-selling recording artists of all time. She has a great voice, but I think what makes her a diva is her ability to emote beyond the words she sings. In her mid 20s, Adele has already seen a share of drama, and channelled it directly into some very catchy pop-songwriting and big hair. I just realized that none of these four finalists are total package performers – they are all primarily vocalists that stick to what they do best. Adele is certainly in this category, proving time and time again that she can just stand on a stage and sing, and we will be mesmerized. Plus she’s still so young, so hopefully there are many years of divaness to come.
Ok, it’s time to vote! Remember, you can come back every day until Tuesday to place your vote. See you on Wednesday for the championship poll!
In case you haven’t been paying attention, this tournament has been emphasizing the second word, madness. I’m not gonna lie, I never expected this. I did not consider a remote possibility that that BOTH Beyoncé AND Whitney Houston would be booted out of the competition during the Sweet 16. Guys. I was saving all their best videos! I hardly have anything left for Annie Lennox and Lady Gaga.
It would be a different thing if this were simply a a female vocalist competition, but I feel as though there are some voters not properly taking the word “diva” in to proper consideration. Still, I have no one to blame but myself, for putting this decision in the hands of voters. I feel as though I understand for the first time how Trump could make it this far as a presidential candidate. So, I will see these brackets to the end, but my heart is no longer in it. Let’s see how the Elite Eight fare with some national anthems (when available), and in order to understand my deep sadness I dare you to compare them to this performance:
Thank you, Whitney, for showing us how it’s done. And now with a heavy heart, I present you with the updated Diva Madness Brackets:
Lady Gaga vs. Adele
Perhaps it is true that there is no such thing as a modern diva. If a post-90s representative has been narrowed down to Lady Gaga and Adele, then I certainly could be convinced. The truth is, no matter what happens here, Beyoncé will always be the modern diva of my heart. More than that, she is the most diva of her bracket, even if we are stuck voting between these two. It’s as if we’ve forgotten that Bey has had more Billboard #1 singles than Adele and Lady Gaga COMBINED, not to mention she’s owned the Superbowl halftime show twice, and still blown away a national anthem like NONE of these women yet. Ok, I’m done. Maybe ya’ll just wanted a fairer fight. Adele does not yet have an epic performance of “God Save the Queen,” so I found the closest thing: her Bond theme.
Mariah vs. Celine
Now, at least the 90’s still has some proper divas to offer the final four. Either way, this quadrant will be represented a vocal legend and a personality to compete with the gods. Just a reminder to please make your decision based on the singer (their voice, interpretation, and hand motions) rather than your patriotic (or aesthetic) bias towards either anthem.
STEVIE vs. ANNIE
These two do indeed deserve to face one another, even if I think this is not the appropriate time or place. Neither of these woman have a time when they sang the national anthem, so I suppose it’s good they are competing against one another. They are also, after all, the only two divas left who began their careers in rock bands. Who will you pick to represent the 80s, and rock divas in the final four?
ARETHA vs. ELLA
We’ll end with a truly epic face-off, although I could not find a performance of Ella Fitzgerald singing “The Star Spangled Banner”. Maybe she didn’t feel like she could swing it as much as she wanted. Anyway, as with Annie Lennox, I’ve found her singing “Georgia on My Mind,” which is basically a State Anthem, if that was actually a thing. Meanwhile, I found more versions of Aretha singing the American anthem than any other diva left – I picked this one primarily for the video quality.
Polls will remain open until Friday, April 1st (no joke!), so make sure to let your friends and diva-allies know to place their votes in time. See you next weekend with the final four!
In Part 1, you voted on the west side of the brackets for divas that have started their careers after 1990. Part 2 will make our way to the other side and vote for classic divas who were well established by the time the 80s were winding down. For the full updated brackets, click this link. Ok, time to see who is still in this, beginning with the quadrant that has dealt me the sharpest dagger to the heart, by eliminating Janet Jackson.
MADONNA (1) vs. STEVIE (5)
These two divas in many ways could not have more different careers. Stevie has been most successful as a offering lead vocals (and personality) to Fleetwood Mac, while Madonna has been a solo act from day one. They are 10 years apart in age, but both women were born to perform, and have proven they will not let anything stop them from touring past any kind of retirement.
ANNIE (11) vs. WHITNEY (2)
While Annie Lennox has been fighting her way to get here, first against Heart’s Ann Wilson, and next against my spirit animal, Janet, Whitney has barely had any competition in this tournament so far. That could change here and now, although based on brackets you’ve sent me, Whitney seems to be the overwhelming favourite to represent in the final four. Then again, I know at least one guy who is determined to see Annie Lennox win this whole thing…
And on to the final quadrant of classic ladies…
BARBRA (1) vs. ARETHA (5)
Is it just me, or did this just get very real? Here we have two incomparable divas up against each other, for your comparison. It’s completely conceivable that either of these women could take it all the way to the end of this competition. Although Barbra is a top seed, she has already matched up against legendary women, and Aretha’s win over Tina last round was an incredibly tight race until she pulled ahead in the last few days.
ELLA (6) vs. DIANA (2)
I have no idea how to decide between these two women. Both have phenomenal stage presence, even when they barely move, and not only are they vocally talented, but they have richly unique voices that can be recognized by the most novice of fans. Appropriately enough, just 2 years ago The Montreal Jazz Festival recognized Diana Ross with an award named after her opponent here. Which diva would you most like to see in the Elite 8?
That’s it for round 3! If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to vote for the other half here, and check back next week for the Elite 8!