Have you ever watched a musical and wished that ordinary life was like it? Full of people breaking into song mid-sentence, in total harmony?
Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau must have. Because that’s exactly what she did yesterday, during a speech at Ottawa City Hall for Martin Luther King day.
After talking about her memories of playing in the snow with her children and talking about the importance of loving our differences, the Prime Minister’s wife threw a real curveball into the mix. Inspired by other singers at the event– professional ones, it’s important to note – the first lady of Canada chose to give an impromptu a capella performance of her self-penned song, Smile Back at Me.
Oh, Sophie. *face palms* How misjudged. This was really not the time for amateur dramatics.
“This is not planned…trust me” she assured the audience. And we can only hope that’s true.
Perhaps my stony heart is boarded up so well and I am so cynical I can’t appreciate a touching tribute by someone simply swept up in the moment.
However, I don’t think that’s the case. At least once a month I will watch an internet video that gives me such feels I’ll cry – even if I don’t know the cats in it. I’m by no means a sap, but I’m certainly not impervious to the tugs on the heart strings that a random human being can pull.
They may be silly or funny or self-deprecating. They may be completely serious and life affirming. But the common denominator? They are never self-serving. A bold statement to make in 2016, when YouTube with its former slogan, ‘Broadcast Yourself’, is the biggest platform for airing our dirty laundry.
But this day was not about Mrs. Trudeau. Nobody had asked her to sing. Search as I did in vain, it is impossible to find a context for the song (written for her child) that makes sense in this setting.
The event commemorated the birth of the civil rights leader. Gregoire-Trudeau’s song was one she used to sing to her daughter Ella-Grace when she was going through a “difficult time in her life.”
The song talks of how “goodwill prevails,” but to me that is really clutching at straws, if one is searching for a link.
The whole affair reminded me of that painfully awkward scene in Girls, when Marnie sings a cover of Kanye West’s Stonger at her ex-boyfriend’s launch party as a “gift” to him.
Both are self-indulgent, poorly judged, and cringe-inducing. And if I’m being honest, a little funny.
To me, it’s irrelevant whether you consider her voice to be stunning or if you deemed it a little out of key. The sentiment is all that matters, and in this case the sentiment was sorely lacking.
Why did she think it was appropriate to commandeer this MLK tribute to share with everyone her song writing talents and vocal abilities? Could she really have been so moved by the events of the day that her only immediate response was to…sing about it?
It’s hard to get away from the fact that what she did was attention seeking – plain and simple. And the off the cuff, spur-of-the-moment way in which it was performed? It has a distinct “Oh this old thing? Just something I threw together” feeling about it.
If nobody liked it, fine. It was spontaneous, what do you expect? And if they loved it, as many did, fantastic. An inspired performance that just happened, and happened to get everyone talking.
The only problem is that now they’re talking about Sophie and not about MLK…