24 January

Are we so cruel to celebrities because, being unable to ignore the beautiful, we hope they'll also be profound, and when they're not cannot help but be angry?

Take as an example Whitney Houston, who paved the way for Mariah Carey and Celine Dion: singers with technical proficiency--great range--who we must admire. Alas, they're only admired for that skill. Houston knew that. Wouldn't you drug yourself into a stupor every night if millions were telling you how worthless you are? Worthless, that is, compared to your voice.

With the exaggerated use of Auto-Tune, singers claim a modicum of self-respect by mocking the demand for proper equally-tempered vocals. These numerous little rebellions against the popular-music paradigm that replaced Rock in the 1980's only suggest how imprisoned these artists are. So as we celebrate the birthdays of friends, have no doubt we'll still have plenty of deathdays to celebrate as well, for our celebrity enemies.