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June 2019
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2005-06-22 Talent takes second place to `angle'

It often appears that in the entertainment business it is vital to have "an angle" in order to establish a career, so much so, that talent can sometimes seem secondary.


There is huge talent out there waiting to be unveiled  budding James Joyces in literary circles and up-and-coming Nat King Coles in the music business  but it is quite often those who have an angle who rise swiftly to the top of the ladder, while many with true talent and no real marketable selling point remain in the shadows.


Being the child of a pop-icon, a Hollywood legend, or indeed a Taoiseach, can work to someones advantage. On the other hand, it can act as a weight around the neck - what a daunting prospect it must have been for the young Liza Minelli starting out as the daughter of the legendary Judy Garland. Michael Douglas (son of Kirk) and Kate Hudson (daughter of Goldie Hawn) have established themselves on the Hollywood A-list without ever really exploiting the angle of having famous parents. However, Julio Iglesias son Enrique has miraculously managed to rise to the top of the pops!


And of course there are those celebrities who have become famous for being famous. Lady Beckham of Beckingham Palace is married (for the moment) to the worlds most famous footballer, and the fact that she was once a fifth of the Spice Girls has become somewhat irrelevant, along with her talent which has always been secondary, or dare I suggest non-existent?

Any time Shane McGowan appears on our TV screens he seems to be under the influence which has become a unique, if somewhat sad selling-point. Who can forget all the different angles Sinéad OConnor has used in her varied career  ripping the Popes photo, her lesbian phase, her priest or Mother Mary Bernadette phase, and now as a settled wife and mother. Whenever Sinéad changed direction in her life the press had a field-day. Child prodigies have been a common phenomenon ever since Mozarts father treated his son as a sort of performing monkey. Being a child prodigy is a huge selling-point. Charlotte Church shot to fame as the little school-girl with the big wobbly voice. It hadnt been done before and she was the first with that angle. Since then several others, notably Hayley Westenra, have followed suit. The sad thing with the child star angle is that the public dont want those little girls to ever grow up.

Russel Watson was the factory worker turned opera singer, and in every interview he appears to purposefully mis-pronounce aria titles in order to remind us of his lack of classical training. Similarly, Lesley Garrett was the lovable Yorkshire lass bringing opera to the masses. Andrea Bocelli is the biggest selling classical artist of all time and no-one can doubt the beauty of his voice, but he is also the first of the big tenors who happens to be blind. The extremely talented and virtuosic percussionist Evelyn Glennie is almost totally deaf and plays percussion by sensation and vibration. Within the Irish Tenors, there is a singing priest and a singing doctor, both rather unique angles. The English comedienne Jo Brand found fame by making fun of her size, while Julian Clary and Graham Norton displayed their outrageously camp style of humour, the latter also being the son of a Church of Ireland clergyman.

On the Late Late Show a while back, Pat Kenny had as one of his guests a gentleman by the name of Stoner, who had appeared on our news bulletins years before, opening fire at a funeral in a Belfast cemetery. The next any of us heard of him was on Prime time TV plugging his new book. There was no doubt that the man had an angle, but I couldnt help but feel a little sorry for all the struggling and talented writers who had, as Oscar Wilde put it, nothing to declare but their genius.

Then there are those geniuses who, in addition to their talent, possess a distinctive selling-point. Salvador Dalis trademark moustache, like his imagination grew and grew. Like an antenna, it captured his creative imagination, while acting as a defence to his real self.

Now, if youll forgive me, my chin is twitching, must be a song coming through&&.