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“Carlton’s B-list celebrity status”

I really thought Vanessa Carlton was a big deal.

She was here at Dartmouth last night, belting ‘em out to the back(ish) rows. I didn’t go to the concert myself and, based upon the aforelinked article, basically no one else did either. Things are dire indeed when The Dartmouth reports event turnout as “disappointing.” I was, frankly, surprised to see that word when I took my daily glance at the paper this morning. Spaulding Auditorium isn’t that big; only a thousand seats or so. “Not one fifth of this campus and town would go to see Vanessa Carlton?” I demanded of myself with disbelief. You see, I was absolutely certain that I knew who this Vanessa Carlton girl was.

I don’t consider myself to be at the vanguard of popular culture, but for some reason upon learning of the concert on Tuesday, about a half-day in advance of the performance itself, I felt comfortable in the notion that Vanessa Carlton was quite popular and roundly-liked —that this concert would be something of a to-do.

My naïveté was tested yesterday as, throughout the day, I asked several friends if they were planning on attending this concert. On the street, phone, and in class responses ranged from guttural roars of incredulity to (what I originally thought feigned) ignorance. On the phone, Lauren described her to me as a grim facsimile of Alicia Keys. (I scarcely knew that name and had to Google it for the correct spelling.) My failure to grasp that analogy should have tipped me off that I had no idea what I was talking about.

Maybe I had her confused with Sade. But I honestly thought Vanessa Carlton was some youngish jazz/pop crossover woman who, for about a decade or thereabouts had been doing highly-praised adult contemporary music. A more soulful, sultry Diana Krall, was who I pictured. I could have sworn her music had been featured in theatrical trailers of Oscar-winning films and that she had performed at Carnegie Hall, during one of their fusion nights, at least once or twice.

vanessacarlton.jpgBut it turns out everyone else knew what I didn’t. The concert was something of a bust. One student surmised that “people are embarrassed that they want to see the concert,” and thus did not go. Another blamed her “b-list” celebrity status.

Too embarrassed to redisplay my ignorance, I Wiki’d her. She’s a top forty poptart, lumped in with the likes of Michelle Branch and Avril Lavigne. Now, I have no idea who the former is, but the Avril girl I have seen on television, and let me tell you she’s no pretty sight or sound. I’m pretty sure puppies and other small critters shouldn’t be permitted near her black-bordered maw.

Then I saw a photo of Vanessa Carlton. Oh. I thought she was black.

So I had no idea who this Carlton character was, and I am now in unbroken concurrence with the 90% of Dartmouth that opted out of the concert last eve. My sincerest regrets, Vanessa. But I would very much like to know who I was thinking of, because I’d like to purchase an album of hers.


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