Cole Porter’s lyrical and melodic genius is likely to endure as one of the last century’s immortal contributions to culture. Lennon/McCartney, Holland/Dozier/Holland and possibly Bacharach/David may last as long; others currently revered will be forgotten in 50 years. So it’s dandy that they’re making a biopic about him, and fine that “an extraordinary range of contemporary artists” are performing his music for it. Trouble is, these artists are neither extraordinary nor a range.
Consider what could have been risked here. How about giving Mark Eitzel “Every Time We Say Goodbye”? Or asking A Girl Called Eddy to murmur “Night And Day”? Might it not have been an interesting experiment to get PJ Harvey to deliver a dark “Let’s Misbehave”?
What do we get instead? “Anything Goes” is taken nowhere special by Caroline O’Connor. Robbie Williams blusters out “It’s De-Lovely” with his usual lack of finesse. Sheryl Crow snores through “Begin The Beguine”, and Mick Hucknall slobbers sweatily over “I Love You”. Oh dear. One begrudgingly concedes that Elvis Costello’s “Let’s Misbehave”, Diana Krall’s “Just One Of Those Things” and even Alanis Morissette’s “Let’s Do It” are… not too bad. They’re just uninspired; reverential without fire.
The nadir is Natalie Cole’s shaming of her dad’s gifts; she warbles the words “I die a little” like she’s complaining of a mild flu. This was a splendid chance to expose Porter’s precision to a new generation. Instead, it’s de-dreary, de-disappointing and de-dull.