Screen Reviews

Charlotte Church

Prelude: The Best Of



Okay, the girl can sing. Let’s just get that out of the way right now: Charlotte Church is a wonderful singer with a pure operatic voice, and you just can’t hate on that. You might quibble with her material (and stand by for some quibblin’), you might not like her personally (hard to imagine that, but she did make some boneheaded – if close to the truth – comments about the USA with September 11 a bit too close in the rearview mirror), you might hate everything about the way she’s been merchandised every single second of her life… but don’t try and say she can’t just sing the crap out of some songs.

And this DVD has plenty of evidence of that. It’s culled from all her other specials, so it’s pretty much 17 performances with her straight-on and an orchestra behind her, but that’s okay – it’d be much worse if the film was all skipping around in some kind of yucky “video” way. And it jumps around a lot, too, which provides Unintentional Comedy Rating gold: one second, she’s a little kid singing “Pie Jesu” with funny-looking former little kid Billy Gilman, the next she’s her current 16-year-old self, all hotted up in a red slinky number and doing a funky gypsy dance to “Habanera” from Bizet’s Carmen. Wow! How’d that happen?

The classical stuff is pretty ace, because they play it straight and because it matches her voice better. “Ave Maria” and “Panis Angelicus” are gold, baby, and she nails ‘em. And fake-opera Broadway tunes are okay too: “Bali Ha’i” comes off well, as does her duet with weird old Josh Groban on West Side Story’s “Someday.” She rocks that Celtic/Irish thing too. But whoever convinced homegirl that she should do “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is NOT her friend, and I could have done without “Danny Boy” and “Imagine.”

Enough of that. Here’s another quibble: Every Church special seems to have been filmed in exactly the same way. These are not really visually compelling pieces of cinema – except the ones set outside at the castle, which kinda pop – because they’re not meant to be. The focus is on the voice. That’s so crazy it just might work.

Bonus materials are pretty cool: a couple interviews are key, especially because one’s from when she was younger and the other one is from 2002, so she’s being all teenaged and kinda sullen, etc. She seems like a fairly normal teenager, y’know, except that she’s this multi-millionaire chick with an amazing voice.

Oh, and probably a lot of creepy older male fans stalking her on creepy Internet sites. If my head didn’t hurt so much from all the caffeine, I’d probably try to wonder whether this new “sexy teen” thing is an evil plot of her parents/merchandisers/corporate masters/etc., or just that she’s a teenager who wants to be known as more than just “the little Welsh angel” – I suspect that it’s a little of both, but damn I got a headache, so I won’t go into the whole thing.

And there’s a “Video Tour of Cardiff” here too, and an icky “Photo Gallery” that plays soft floaty music to show all the various glamour shots of her in her career and is just way too Jean Teasdale for me. Me, I like the music, and I like the opera pieces better than the pop pieces, and I’m REALLY REALLY GLAD they didn’t include any of the concert footage of her and Wyclef Jean; hey, I like Clef, but that would have just been too incongruous.

So that’s Prelude. I’m guessing Charlotte Church ain’t goin’ anywhere anytime soon, so there will undoubtedly be a lot more of these. She’s only 16.

And note to anyone who’s buying this because you’re a pervert: she’s only 16. Unless, of course, you’re under, say, 20, in which case: ogle all you want. But there’s nothing cheesecakey here, so you might wanna just get your homework done.

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