Several of my facebook friends have shared a sweet moment from a music program. That’s what they think it is at least. It‘s an 8 -year-old girl singing a Billie Holiday song. I have always liked the unique voice of the American jazz singer, but it’s not exactly merry music, and her life was not a sunshine story.
I wrote this post a couple of months ago when so many Norwegians thought it was adorable. Many people have read it again this weekend because Angelina Jordan won the final of Norway’s got Talent two days ago. I can only assume they didn’t find what they were looking for. I became curious about what this 8-year-old had selected and looked up some information. The little girl sang Gloomy Sunday which is also called “The Hungarian Suicide Song” and I suspect it’s the phrase My heart and I Have Decided to end it all that refers to suicide. In the Billie Holiday version, a verse was added to the original lyrics. In the new verse she sings: Dreaming, I was only dreaming. This is supposed to downplay the grim content, I suppose. I still think this song has a special meaning in the Billie Holiday-sound. She struggled with many demons that were expressed in alcohol and drug abuse. At best, this is a song about depression, at worst about suicide.
I might be overly serious, but when teenagers and adults participate in these type of shows the judges often show no mercy if someone performs badly or defiles a classic. If a rocker for example tries unsuccessfully to sing Kurt Cobain, they will not hesitate to let him know. I wonder how sincerely a Norwegian 8 year old can express a desire to die.
Perhaps it is right to put the label sweet on this, but I wonder if her parents should have guided her talent in a slightly different direction. I think this fits into a general trend where it looks like we embrace creepy. I have a daughter who will be 9 soon. I can’t imagine her singing about death as if she means it. I will certainly not encourage her to do so. I do not think there’s any video of Billie Holiday singing Gloomy Sunday on you tube, but for those who like melancholy music, here is the soundtrack from 1941: