Once, we came to commend your album. Then, we came to proclaim your genius. And now, we come to speak in our own defense. Our words, our offerings to you (laid at your altar, and yours alone, though we suppose Dave Sitek deserves some credit), have been turned against us. Cruel online world! Yesterday, reading Stephanie Zacharek on Salon, our mouth went dry, heart palpitated in an unusual and disturbing manner, and eyes began darting wildly as we came across this loathsome passage:
"Anywhere I Lay My Head" hasn't been unilaterally trashed by critics; it has received some favorable reviews, one in Pitchfork among them. But there have been plenty of potshots, too. In April, New York magazine's Vulture blog ran a short item about the album with the snarky headline "Confirmed: Scarlett Johansson Makes Best-Ever Album by an Actor."
Would but we had a pitchfork at hand, with which we might pursue our terrible accuser!
Let us be clear, Scarlett, since our (obviously unread) blog article was not: The greatest album by a member of the Screen Actors Guild is a very fine album indeed. But this injustice, the perversion of our words, is not all. The writer then goes on to make claim on you and your album, to argue its merits as if that were not our exclusive domain. Herewith, we present her more salient points — followed by similar points, enclosed in parenthetical marks, that we ourselves made nigh on ten days ago.
But I'm here to make a confession: I like "Anywhere I Lay My Head," and if Johansson "can't sing" — a claim that's debatable anyway — she is at the very least part of a long, proud tradition of actors who "can't sing" and who have nonetheless made wonderful, or at least extremely enjoyable, records.
(Our words: But even if it mattered that Johansson is not, technically speaking, a dazzling singer — has that ever mattered for Madonna? Or any emo band in history? — we'd still find the idea of Sitek rescuing Johansson from her own worst impulses lame.)
She's not attempting to reinvent [the songs], only to reimagine them — which is not that different from what an actor does when he or she is called upon to interpret a role.
(Her definitive role, in Lost in Translation, made a strength of her weakness, which is her opaqueness, that air of inaccessibility … It is those instincts and independence of spirit that she called upon in making Anywhere I Lay My Head, and it is her reserved, easy way that redefines the music.)
Johansson is already a beautiful, successful young movie star — we don't want her to be able to sing too, do we?
(She's too pretty to be a talented musician!)
We cannot bear to go on. Scarlett, we beg of you: Remember who first rushed to your defense, and who, like you, has suffered at the tap-tap-tapping fingers of those eager to cast aspersions on one's most sincere impulses.
Can Scarlett Johansson sing? [Salon]