Eh. Felt like a change after all these years. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how thoroughly grandfathered my old layout was; all of the tools for editing the layout that I was used to having have now disappeared. Ah, well.
For tonight, three versions of the same song. From best to most unexpected.
This one, you should only listen to, because every part of it is a visual crime. Moreover, it makes no sense. Why would the Wicked Witch, of whatever direction, have a relentlessly pink sweatshop? (Literally.) Moreover, why would she dress as though she were unfortunately caught at the intersection of an explosion of a costume jewelry factory, a bubblegum factory, and a makeup factory? It's puzzling in a way, because Mabel King and Ted Ross (The Lion) were the only people brought over to the film from the original Broadway production, and that was not remotely what her Broadway costume and makeup were. (You can see them in this linked image
; it's black and white, but the original costume was also black and white, so you're not losing a lot.)
My own guess is that the production aspects were ... shall we say, tuned so that even though Mabel King could blow Miss Ross off the screen vocally without half trying, she couldn't do it visually, except in an unfortunately comical way.
Sadly, you can't purchase this as a single; it's album-only on all major sites.
The most recent version, from NBC's "The Wiz LIVE!" They corrected the costume issues (thank goodness). The one thing I could wish is that they'd been able to get a soundstage with the depth/scope of the one in the film, because without the room to get away from everything going on around her, Mary J. Blige's limitations as a dancer are painfully obvious. NBC is playing whack-a-mole with this one already -- they had it on their own channel for about a week, and now it's gone -- so heaven knows how long it will last. Should it depart soon (and it will), here's a sanctioned link to the audio
. (The production is scheduled to transfer to Broadway soon -- this month, I think -- which may explain the particular Vevo channel.)
The most unexpected version: apparently when the movie was being made, Miss Ross decided to make her own version of the soundtrack, in which she recorded each and every song herself, no matter how wildly inappropriate. Oddly enough, it's a pretty good album; the parts that have the most difficulties are the ones where it's clear that the number is supposed to be a choral number, and it's just ... her. Any road, if all had gone as planned, it probably would have been a modest hit. However, all did not go as planned. The movie of The Wiz flopped hard. Per Wikipedia, on a production budget of $24 million, the film earned back only $13.6 million on initial release. (To date, according to boxofficemojo.com, it's still only earned $21.3 million, so it's still in the red.) I gather that the soundtrack flopped along with the film, and nobody wanted to release yet another thing associated with the film, only to have it crash and burn, so the album got buried for nearly 40 years. Then, when NBC decided to do "The Wiz LIVE!" it was brought out of mothballs, remastered and released.
In any event, the surprising thing is how much grit Miss Ross brings to this song. You forget that she can do a lot with her voice when she gets the chance.
Honestly, I picked this to start things off because I kind of want this to be the way the year goes. No bad news, for me or for anyone I know. That's not too much to ask, I hope.