The Yes List – Norah Jones Rocks Soft
Each week, The Daily Beast scours the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, Norah Jones' soft rock edge, a Disney princess for the Obama era, and David Hockney shows his Impressionist side.
Norah Jones Rocks Soft
Three years ago, Norah Jones was playing in grimy country-western bars on Manhattan’s East Side with a girl group called the Sloppy Joannes, with a baseball cap pulled down over her braided pigtails. That same year, Jones also performed with a punk group called El Madmo, wielding a red Fender guitar and a platinum blonde wig. The jazz superstarlet, then 27, wanted to be known for anything but the soothing sounds that brought her enormous fame. The wigs and fake bands were the only way for Jones to play in public without causing a scene, due to the epic success of her 2002 debut, Come Away With Me, which sold a staggering 10 million copies and surpassed Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue for the bestselling jazz record of all time. All Jones wanted was to break away from the pressure of mega-success. As she told The Daily Beast of her first record, “We were all totally blown away, it wasn’t like I was dancing in the Mickey Mouse Club. I’m not sure why it happened on such a grand scale. It was a little weird for a few years.”
This week, Jones returns to the charts with The Fall. Though longtime fans will still enjoy moments of her velvety tone and low-key vibe, it is clear from the harder sound and melancholy themes that the singer is trying to break from her past. Jones hired rock producer Jacquire King, who has worked with Tom Waits and Kings of Leon, to add a “heavier, thicker sound” to the record. As the new York Times’ Jon Pareles writes, “Now the guitars backing her are usually electric, the drums aren’t shy, and there’s an anxious, wounded undertone to her voice.” And if embracing electric guitars wasn’t enough of an innovation, Jones is also embracing new technologies. The 30-year-old struck one of the first music video deals, including live performances, with Hulu.com, Below, enjoy the official music video for Jones’ new single, “Chasing Pirates.”
Disney's First Black Princess
It’s about time Disney created an African-American princess. This development has been decades coming, and finally, young girls will have another kind of heroine to consider. The Princess and the Frog, which comes out this Thanksgiving weekend, is more than an act of political correctness, however—the story, a charming retelling of The Frog Prince, set in the bayou outside New Orleans, the film is also a delight. As The Daily Beast’s Sean Macaulay writes, “As audiences will see, when The Princess and the Frog opens November 25, Tiana is an ambitious, hard-working gal with plans to open her own restaurant and little time for dancing. She is, in fact, the kind of impressive young black woman that makes Oprah Winfrey tear up with pride.” And in fact, Oprah plays the voice of Princess Tiana’s mother, an apt sendoff for an emotional week for the talk show host.
David Hockney’s Impressionist Period
Artist David Hockney is best known for his serene blue pools and seafoam landscapes that perfectly capture both the peace and energy of Los Angeles. And yet, Hockney is far from being a native son of the Golden Coast; rather, he hails from misty Yorkshire across the Atlantic. In a new exhibition at two of New York’s PaceWildenstein galleries, Hockney returns to his English roots with his first solo show in the city in more than 12 years. His nature series, all painted after 2006, embrace a more muted color palette, that of old masters like Cézanne and Monet. So is the 72-year-old growing subdued in his later years? Or has he merely chosen to swap L.A. for the fertile countryside of his homeland? The Daily Beast’s Rachel Wolff writes: “It’s nice to see the former SoCal denizen embrace seasons. The sunshine that was so even in his slick L.A. exteriors is warped and sometimes hidden entirely in these works. Perhaps, at this age, Hockney is thinking more about the passage of time in both life and art.”