Obama’s inaugural diva-off!

21 January 2009

Aretha Franklin, Mary J Blige, Mariah Carey and Beyonce Knowles aren't exactly known for sharing billing with other divas, but they did it happily for Barack Obama. But which belter was the best?

It all started on a slightly shaky note, with the grande dame of warbling, Aretha Franklin, who is such a legend that we're not going to mention the hat. Or the song (I recognise that tune! Oh, that's right, it's Britain's national anthem, with different words!). Or the singing. Judge for yourselves...

Later on, at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, a trio of soul sisters stepped up to the plate, in the shapely form of Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige and Beyonce.

Mary J Blige was on good form, singing Just Fine – a song dripping in jaunty optimism,

while Mariah's syrup-infused rendition of Hero was a belter, although we can't help thinking that The X Factor judges would have described it as ‘pitchy' in parts.

As far as we're concerned, Beyonce was the winner by miles.

For one thing, she provided the soundtrack to that first dance – and that's hard to beat. Also, she sang a poignant Etta James classic (Beyonce plays the blues, soul and jazz legend in upcoming biopic Cadillac Records, out 20 February) and she seemed genuinely moved, with tears welling in her beautiful, almond-shaped eyes. Bless. Whichever diva you preferred, let's put this all in perspective: in 2001, George W Bush's inauguration boasted a line-up of Ricky Martin, Charlotte Church, Jessica Simpson and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Already, we like the change we see.


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