This week, PBS had two shows from the past, an hour-long Sinatra concert when he was about 65, "Concert for the Americas" in the Dominican Republic, and a fairly recent Streisand concert in the Village, "One Night Only at the Village Vanguard." We have in these two performers the greatest stylist, Sinatra, and the greatest singer, Streisand. I'd never seen the Sinatra concert, but once again it showed me and the world what a showman he was. He gave us several of his standards, but each one was updated for this show. I was surprised to hear that "Strangers in the Night" was one of his least favorite songs and one of his least performed. And, of course, a new version of "Chicago." And most special of all, Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clows," accompanied by only Tony Mittola on guitar. I was struck again by his timing. No one has ever had the ability to be so meticulously in time and tune with the backup band as he strolled the stage, flipping the mike cord as he went, making appropriate hand gestures to emphasize the phrasing. Some singers sound so dated after decades pass, but not Sinatra. Just listen to any of the pop singers from the Forties, Fifties, even the Sixties, and they sound so out of tune with the present. But not Sinatra. Maybe someday his style will be passé, but not for at least another hundred years. Maybe never. Then there's Barbra Streisand. She was singing in a tiny club with people jammed in, the front row almost in her lap. The notables in the audience--Bill Clinton, Nicole Kidman, and James Brolin, her husband. Although she has visibly aged and chose to wear almost no makeup, her voice is even richer than it was back in the day when she was producing those wonderful musical specials for tv, or starring on Broadway, or making movie after movie, some in which she sang, most in which she didn't (her one error, that simply awful Fockers flick). The difference between a stylist and a singer, a stylist doesn't have to be a great singer, but a singer has to be a singer first and a performer second. I've said in the past, we should get Streisand to record every song ever written and then we'd have them preserved in their best possible form.
And one last time about "So You Think You Can Dance." The final four performed last night with the results to be made known tonight. I think I can predict almost with certainty what those results will be. The two females, Melanie and Sasha, are head and shoulders (and legs too) better than the two males, Marko and Tadd. Going from fourth to first, here are the probable results: Tadd, Marko, Sasha, and Melanie. Melanie gets my nod because not only is she a great dancer, she's also a great actress. She'll be able to go on to film if she wants to. Too bad they don't still make musicals like those in which Leslie Caron, Mitzi Gaynor, and Cyd Charisse starred. Melanie would be a shoo-in. For those of you who think the dancing on "Dancing with the Stars" is the ultimate, you ain't seen nothin' till you've seen the dancing on "SYTYCD."