Music History

Florence Foster Jenkins: History’s Worst Singer

The latest Meryl Streep film, Florence Foster Jenkins, is based on the true story of the world’s most deluded singer.

Here’s an actual recording of the woman.

Today we’d called Ms. Jenkins a practitioner of outsider music, those who feel they must perform while being totally oblivious to the fact that they have little or no talent and are, in fact, awful. Yet instead of being shunned, a substantial number of these people are the subject of our fascination. Why is it we love bad singing? Salon takes this look.

A pleasant-looking young man begins to grind his hips to a basic R&B backbeat, as a buxom girl gazes out along a bridge and wrinkles her nose at the camera. The young man starts to sing, “It’s somethin’ about you, girl … ”—and instantly one realizes something is horribly, delightfully wrong. His voice sounds like a sozzled toddler on a bungee cord. When a “harmony” comes in, it’s just another, lower, equally wobbly vocal line that tangles around the first. The dancing becomes more and more lost-looking. The PG-13 lyrics are lisped and gulped into sonic oatmeal.

This is San Antonio’s Daniel Mcloyd, aka IceJJFish, and the video is “On the Floor.” It was posted in February 2014. Today it is verging on 50 million views.

Keep reading. And yes, Rebecca Black will be covered.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38321 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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