Dita Von Teese - Dita Von Teese

by John Plowright Rating:1 Release Date:2018-02-16
Dita Von Teese - Dita Von Teese
Dita Von Teese - Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese is best known as a burlesque dancer and as the former wife of Marilyn Manson, whom she married in late 2005 and divorced in 2008. Von Teese did not claim spousal support in large part, no doubt, because she had already succeeded, before they met, in turning herself into a profitable brand, supplementing her personal appearances as dancer, actress and vedette with a range of merchandise which includes everything from perfume and lingerie to pins and vases.

There’s no doubting Dita’s entrepreneurial flair and her eponymous record represents the latest scheme to create a new revenue stream and thrust herself even further into the limelight, although tellingly she shares the album cover with Sébastien Tellier, who composed the music, while his wife, Amandine de La Richardière, wrote the lyrics.

This is not Von Teese and Tellier’s first musical collaboration, as they covered Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’ on the 2016 amfAR album ‘The Time is Now!’ This track suggests that with the right material a combination of Tellier’s wispish synth arrangements and Von Teese’s whispery vocals can be mildly agreeable.

Unfortunately the ten original songs on ‘Dita von Teese’, fail to live up even to this modest promise. As with any car crash it’s difficult to know precisely where to begin, so let’s start with the vocals.

Von Teese herself admits, “I’m not a professional singer, in fact, I’m quite uneasy about recording my voice.” There’s certainly no disguising the fact that her singing voice is very weak indeed. This need not have been an insuperable problem. Limited vocalists as diverse as Rex Harrison, Marilyn Monroe and Ian Dury have found ways of nevertheless putting across songs effectively. Such, sadly, is not the case here. Sometimes Dita whispers. Sometimes Dita talks. Sometimes Dita moans (most notably on ‘Saticula’). By the last track (‘Porcelaine’) Dita effectively plays backing vocalist to a male singer.

Most frequently her voice is buried in the mix. This would not be such a problem if the music itself was capable of holding one’s attention but I’m afraid it isn’t. To describe it as muzak would be to do muzak a disservice insofar as the blandness of lift music is meant to produce passive listeners. However, in the unlikely event that I was in an elevator in the Burj Khalifa and ‘Dita von Teese’ was piped into it, I would soon dive for the stairs.

Elvis Costello once convincingly defended indistinct vocals on the grounds that the audience would ultimately obtain greater satisfaction from having had to make an effort to hear the lyrics. That argument only works, of course, if, in the final analysis, the lyrics are actually worth making the effort to hear. Again sadly that’s not the case here. I’m not competent to judge the four tracks in French but lines such as “My tongue in the juice of sugar again” suggest that Amandine de La Richardière’s command of the English language (or acquaintance with sugar) is somewhat lacking.

In happier days Marilyn Manson said that Dita could put Viagra out of business and unsurprisingly her album seeks to convey an image of sophisticated seductive sexiness and, in the absence of ‘Je t’aime … moi non plus”, priapic pubescents may well find a use for ‘Dita von Teese’. Most, however, will find the album fifty shades of grey.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars