Hot or Not: Aretha Franklin Edition

First off: Damn Jennifer Hudson’s murderous, hope-he-rots-in-a-prison, brother-in-law. As much as I love Aretha, this really should have been J. Hud’s moment. She’s from the Chi. She can blow. She would have looked fierce, but my lamentations aside — Aretha Franklin, can we talk?

The hat? The voice? Hawt or not?

The chapeau, while crazy, rhinestone studded, bowtie, hood-church-lady fantastic was a little, um, MUCH and her voice … po’ child … was a tad wrecked. (Too many pre-Inauguration Ho-Hos and Alize?)  It didn’t ruin my inauguration. I still had a ball, but … was it just me or was Re Re having an off day?

40 thoughts on “Hot or Not: Aretha Franklin Edition

  1. No, you pretty much called it. She was having an absolutely, 100%, no-good bad day.The sight of the hat at least distracted from the sound that was once her voice.

  2. The hat was ghetto fab. Equal parts grey flannel and ridiculous. Having never been a fan of Queen of Soul’s voice when it isn’t being pushed along by a thumping drumbeat, I can’t comment on the singing.

  3. The hat, in all its ostentatious glory, was not nearly as bad as it could’ve been. I was just glad she didn’t go out there in a full-length fur. Goodness knows that she’s been known to wear whatever she damn well pleases…and good on her for it.

  4. Honestly, compared to what Aretha has worn to many an important event I think I really liked it. It was a nice little amount of showiness and sparkles for a performer without being to gaudy or too boring, I mean she is the Queen ya know? I think she did aright with that hat.

  5. I think Mother Nature ensured that she would have to cover up, ya’ll. It was cold as hell out there.Thank you, Mother Nature!

  6. Whew!!! I thought I was the only person that thought she was off. I wasn’t as off-put by the hat as I was with the singing.

  7. My mother loved Aretha today. I left the room so I didn’t have to hear her sing anymore. It was bad. And yes, I hated the hat too.

  8. Miss Franklin’s performance was definitely off- but she still brought soul and presence eccentric hat or not. But you are right Black Snob, JHud would have hit all the right notes and gave the event some sparkle…

  9. Cosign! Damn you William Balfour! JHud would have nailed it and looked fab while doing it. Can’t wait for half time at the super bowl.

  10. Egads people!I had no problem with the hat. Yes, it was bigger than the norm, but not a problem to me.Her voice? I listened to her sing, got emotional, and the waterworks began….

  11. No way, you guys must be too young to understand. We bow before Ms. Franklin. I don’t know what you all heard, and maybe I didn’t hear it all clearly what with the tears running down my cheek.

  12. ReRe looked terrible(not unusual for her though) and she sounded even worse. How can we complain about how the Ashanti’s and Rhianna’s of the world can’t sing like her with her sounding like that. If she would’ve given up those cigarettes 40 years ago and got some lipo around that neck maybe she would have sounded better. I am not a J-Hud fan. I think she is way too overated as a vocalist. She wasn’t even the best singer when she was on American Idol. I know too many church girls that can kill her singing. Screaming and singing are not the same things. She probably would have sounded better than Aretha did though.

  13. Yeah she did his a few funny notes, I was thinking it was the cold that got to her–it got better towards the end…. whatever the case she’s a legend and deserving of singing on this day. Her church lady hat wasn’t so bad–seeing as she grew up in the church–that’s what formal is to her. 😉

  14. I loved the hat. I was so happy she wasn’t bursting out all over – we need to be thankful. Period.

  15. Aretha Franklin has nothing to prove. I don’t quite understand all the badmouthing of Ms. Franklin… maybe i’m getting old. The woman is in her mid-late 60’s…. started her career 50 years ago. She’s not supposed to be at her peak. With all things considered… she did a fine job. Would she have been as good as a younger singer at their peak?… probably not. But for Obama & Co. that wasn’t the point. Her presence at the swearing-in event was just as much about Obama and the Country honoring her as it was about her honoring him ….in fact… the opportunity was probably more about honoring Ms. Franklin…more about the nation showing its appreciation to her for her collective career…. not for what she was able or not able to do with the song she sung. So from that standpoint… you all are thinking in the wrong context.In terms of what she chose to wear… I thought she looked pretty good. 🙂

  16. She looked okay, I thought the hat was a fun touch, but I’m betting she didn’t have a moment to warm up her vocal chords and with the cold and all that sort of hindered her performance. But still, she’s Aretha. Though, if Obama was going to take one performance only from Clinton’s inauguration it should have been Maya Angelou.

  17. Loved the hat – I expected church lady, and she did not disappoint. Agree that she’s not at her peak, BUT also agree that she had to be the one. One of many teary moments!

  18. I think I read somewhere that Aretha doesn’t allow air conditioning when she sings in some venues. Maybe she’s just not at her best in the cold. I dunno, I think the hat was a hilarious touch of eccentricity from someone who is known to dress crazy on the regular.

  19. The hat is nice and appropiate for the occasion.The performance was fine, Re Re on her worst day was better than anyone else at those balls.As much as I love Jhud, she is a tad bit overrated. She has a big voice but lacks control.

  20. The hat could’ve been a lot worse, she tried. It was COLD outside people, it’s not easy to sing pitch perfect in those temperatures, but she still did her thing.

  21. The crowd – was full of church ladies. With their fur coats, fur hats and gloves. They came by the busload. Aretha was in good company. As for her voice, no it wasn’t on point but she’s been singing for over 50 yrs. cut her some slack and give her some respect. She WAS the correct choice for the Obama generation (they aren’t 20 somethings you know) and for the generations that grew up never believing a Black man could be elected President. I was far more insulted/embarassed that Beyonce sang for their first dance.

  22. I suspect that most who are being critical of Aretha fail to appreciate the symbolistic power of her presence, given her personal history. The styling, both vocally and sartorially, was the embodiment of the civil rights movement. Respect the past young folks.Patti Labelle would have been a fine choice, as a voice from the mature generation whose still in decent form. Unfortunately she doesn’t command the same political gravitas.If the goal was a perfect performance, JHud? Sweet young woman, but more It-girl du jour. I’d have put Whitney into a preemptive rehab for 6 weeks prior to the inauguration, then have the secret service escort her directly to the podium.

  23. She isn’t a young woman anymore so I didn’t expect her to sound like she used to but I think she did a great job. Brought a nice mature nostalgic soulful touch to the proceedings. I’m not really a hat person, but her’s didn’t strike me as inappropriate. I though it kinda went with her generation and culture. It made me happy to see her there and to hear her.

  24. I didn’t expect her to sound like the Re I grew up with( I remember when she was on the Ed Sullivan Show) but, she did not sound well. Glady Knight is only two years younger than Re and last time I heard her, she still had her pipes. I agree it was more about symbolism though.

  25. I also thought that Aretha Franklin’s voice was off, but it did not take away any joy I was experiencing watching all the pomp and circumstance. I thought her hat was bad-ass. I loved her old black church lady hat. It made that grey ensemble rock. (I also thought Laura Bush’s grey outfit was nice and that Dr. Biden’s grey glenplaid shift dress was hot.)

  26. Like so many have said, I think we need to give Ms. Franklin the benefit of the doubt. She could have been sick and didn’t want miss this opportunity. People get older and things happen. Chaka Khan definitely doesn’t sound like herself from back in the day. Plus unlike Gladys and Patti, Aretha isn’t performing that much, if at all ,these days. Tina can’t shake and turn like she use to, but are we going to take any credit away from her. The hat and coat… that’s just old school Sunday/Special event wear. Step in to any old school Baptist church and you’ll see the same if not worst.I think Aretha was fine for the Inauguration but I am a little upset with the decision for Beyonce. I though. I thought that was the part JHud was going to do and it seemed like it has been confirmed. From what the radio said though Beyonce’s father kind of bullied them into doing it. Who knows, but I kinda felt like it was a slap to Etta considering she still is alive and performing.

  27. Her presence – like Rev Dr Joseph Lowery was a magnificent weaving of the Civil Rights Movement to the Inauguration. Bravo Mr. President! Well played Sir!She looked beautifully and culturally elegantly and age appropriate in her Glorious Crown.It was a nod to the African American Church Traditions and Church Mothers the voice was a bit shaky So WHAT! Can you even begin to imagine the very personal emotions of the moment considering her history w/ Rev King – her father was a famous Chicago minister that mentored Rev King when she was young. Explanation in her own words here: Hail the QUEEN!!!

  28. You guys have way too much time on your hands. Aretha’s performance was phenomenal, bringing many of us to tears. As someone mentioned maybe you all are too young to appreciate the historical importance of her being there and SORRY rihanna, beyonce or j hudson would not have been appropriate choices.From badmouthing the clothes people wore to attacking Aretha I am disgusted by those who chose to cheapen this momentous event with overcritical analysis. Black people – get it together!!!!

  29. I loved the hat…it was cute…lets just be glad she didnt unzip her jacket. Aint no tellin what Re’Re had on under it!!!!

  30. Aretha Franklin deserves a lot of kudos and respect for her time and years of performing. However, the fact remains that on this most special "day of all days" she completely dropped the ball. People are gving her all kinds of excuses. As someone who has been singing for 60 years she should know what to do and what not to do to achieve a good performance whether it was cold or not. She could have bought a thermos of hot tea or waited to come outside.She killed any sybolism with that bad performance. I was not moved. I was so disappointed. Now that crap is playing on the radio behnd Pres. Obama’s voice and messing up me listening to his speech again. If she were Beyonce, J-Hud, or any other young singer the people on this site would be tearing her to shreds.

  31. Y’all KNOW you loved Aunty Re-Re’s church hat at the actual inauguration. Sister O’Dell is somewhere JEALOUS!! That bow was larger than life (and Re-Re’s mammaries). She came church bazaar PROPER!!! hehehe

  32. The A hit it on the head. I loved Aretha being there hat and all. I think it was a perfect fit to a perfect day. She is the Queen of Soul and Michelle is Frist Lady. We rule and reign!

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