Annie Lennox
By: Douglas Wolk | Categories: HiLo Heroes

annie-lennox

For somebody who’s been batting out the hits for thirty years now, ANNIE LENNOX (born 1954) sure doesn’t make a big deal about it: she’s a consistent, reliable entertainer who sails wherever the winds of commerce are blowing. Check her out in the video for her first substantial hit, the Tourists’ 1979 cover of Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want to Be With You”: she’s grinning because she’s realized that the song was just dangling there, waiting to be given the new wave treatment. So it’s heartening that she’s also a raging weirdo — arguably the first Cindy Sherman-inspired pop star, she manipulates her visual image in ways that are less about establishing an identity than making it clear she’s wearing a mask. Her best album, Eurythmics’ 1987 Savage, extends that persona-play to the music itself. It’s a set of acid-dripping songs about erotic attraction and repulsion, and her performances, precise and sarcastic, make it clear that she doesn’t mean a word of them. Its climax, “I Need You,” takes on the traditional form of sincerity — a vulnerable voice-and-acoustic-guitar number — and then whips its wig into the audience’s face: “I need someone to listen to the ecstasy I’m faking.”

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READ MORE about those born on the cusp between two generations. Annie Lennox Bertrand was born between the Blank Generation and the OGXers.

Each day, HiLobrow.com pays tribute to one of our favorite high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes on that person’s birthday. Click here for more HiLo Hero shout-outs.

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Douglas Wolk is the author of Reading Comics and Live at the Apollo. He writes for Techland.com, Time, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Wired, Print and elsewhere.