“Even Judy Garland’s most iconic on-screen ballad performances seem small compared with the last lingering shot of [‘Dreamgirls’ star Jennifer] Hudson, the camera whirling overhead as she blasts out a final ‘You’re gonna love me!’ [. . .]
“The term diva has gotten rather watered down in current pop culture usage, to the point where the title is given to any moderately famous actress or singer with an air of hauteur about her and a personal trainer in her employ.
‘But, in the classical musical formulation, Paris Hilton is certainly no diva — and for that matter, neither is Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston. Old-fashioned divadom entails not just an imperious attitude and a big voice, but a theme — pain, particularly as supplied by callous men and cruel fate — and a task: to transcend that anguish through cathartic declamation. You know the divas of whom I speak: Maria Callas, Edith Piaf, Billie Holliday, Garland, Aretha Franklin, and today’s Queen of Pain, Mary J. Blige. And now, perhaps, Jennifer Hudson.”
Jody Rosen, writing on “The Greatest Song Ever Filmed,” Dec. 21 in at Slate at www.slate.com