I've made no secret about my love for the music of Michael Bolton. My first boat was named the "SS Michael Bolton How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?" And when that disappeared in a mysterious fire, my second boat was the "SS Michael Bolton How Am I Supposed To Live Without You? II."
That doesn't make me special. It just means I have a set of working ears. Because anyone who can't instantly appreciate the velvety tones and lyrical imagery that Mr. Bolton graces us with is either a)a hater (who's gon' hate) or b) deaf. If I ever go deaf, I might just have to end my life if I know I'll never again hear Michael pontificate on the grandeur of love.
But more than his voice, there is an essence of Bolton. An aura, if you will. It's a certain something. It's what causes a deer to look up quizzically as it laps gently at a babbling brook. It's what makes the purple mountains shine with just that much more bit of majesty. It's what gives even the straightest arrow a halfie upon glimpsing his golden mane, suggesting that perhaps in his lineage there was a tryst between a mighty lion and one of his Adonis forefathers.
It's what allows Michael Bolton to sing the following songs better than black people.
I know what you're thinking. That's not by a black person! I didn't say the songs were originally by a black person, just that his version is better than a version by a black person. This is a prime example. Michael's version is so soulful, with so much yearning, it could awaken the slumbers of Edison and Tesla to join forces and create a device so that we could, in fact, have one more yesterday. Notice Michael showing off his acting chops when he sings "I'm not half the man I used to be." As if. Even at half the man, he's more man than Chuck Norris and John Wayne running a train on the Old Spice guy.
And his competition?
Boyz II Men is pretty much my favorite group of all time. At least until science quits dicking around and clones Bolton so that they can annihilate the music industry as foretold in Revelations. Even so, it takes 4 Boyz to try to capture the magic of one Bolton. An admirable attempt, but I'm afraid Bolton wins this one simply based off his "go 'head and stare" painted on jeans.
"Lean On Me"
Fun fact: This was the version that was supposed to be used in the Morgan Freeman film of the same name. However, upon hearing the power in Michael's voice, Morgan Freeman was so overwhelmed with emotion that his once nasally voice dropped a few octaves and his cheeks were afflicted with white dots that remain to this very day.
Clearly Mr. Withers knows he can't match my man MB in the soul department, so he resorts to the cheap trick of playing the piano. Nice try, amigo.
"When A Man Loves A Woman"
This is a twofer, as Michael graciously and gracefully shares his stage with the song's originator, Percy Sledge. And by doing so, Bolton shows perhaps his most endearing quality: humility. Even in his reduced role, Michael has the line of the night when he sings "baby, I'm a man." Understatement of the century. You can really feel the pain coming through in his voice. Son House ain't got shit on the Lightnin' Bolt. At :31, MB makes a gesture to the audience that would become well known in the early 90s. In attendance that night? A young comic by the name of Arsenio Hall.
Winner: Bolton (and the Dog Pound)
"Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay"
Ah, yes, Bolton's command performance. Here, he gives a tired old song a much needed face lift. He takes what was once a wrist-slitter and makes it a light, jaunty, jazzy send-up on lamentations. He's saying "yeah, I'm going to kill myself, but hows about we have a little fun with it, too?" Bolton gets bonus points for hiring the guy who played the house painter on Murphy Brown to be his guitarist.
Confession time: I've never heard of this guy. And since I couldn't even find a video of him singing this song, I'm not entirely sure he didn't just copy Bolton's version and add his own lame spin to it. I mean, not once does he carry a note for way longer than he should. And where's the sense of self-importance that Bolton brings? And that whistling at the end! What gives? It's called auto-tune, dick. Try it sometime, it might make your songs more interesting.
Winner: Bolton (by a fucking landslide!)
Disclaimer: This post is not racist. 1)I am, genetically speaking, half black (from the waist down). And 2) Bolton Law states that Bolton is better than everybody, regardless of race, gender or planet of origin.