04 Julio 2017 16:08
When you don't know what face to make... Sting style
That face. The one you pull when someone plays you a song, promising you you're going to love it. That face times a thousand. Because although the song is being performed by someone else, you wrote it 34 years ago. And now, when you hear it being sung by someone else, it horrifies you.
The victim of all this discomfort was Sting, who came in fine attire and with the best of intentions to the Polar Music Prize ceremony. Celebrated in Sweden, the Polar Music Prize rewards two musicians each year: one classical and one contemporary. This year, former Police frontman and highly successful solo artist Sting was the winner of the second category.
At some point during the preparations for the event, the Polar Music Prize organisers decided that the best way to honour Sting would be inviting José Feliciano to play a version of 'Every Breath You Take': the Police hit that had teenagers and newlyweds slow dancing in 1983.
And you know what? On paper, that might not have seemed such a bad idea. Especially when you consider that the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter has performed the world's best version of the Doors' 'Light My Fire'.
But let's get back to the present. Even before Feliciano's first arpeggio rang out, Sting already seemed tense. As the rendition got underway, the British artist looked more and more uncomfortable: his teeth ground together, his forehead started to sweat. Serbian Jelena Krstic's backing vocals only seemed to ratchet up the awkwardness.
Sting, face undone, clearly couldn't hold it together for the duration of the song. To be fair, to do so would have been hard: it would be like continually pretending that you like a birthday present that you actually hate, while everyone watches your reaction, for four long minutes.
Sting's discomfort was broadcast for the world to see.
Although the way the camera repeatedly cuts from the stage to Sting's cringing face undoubtedly shapes how we respond to Feliciano's performance, his 'Every Breath You Take' is really not that bad. It is, quite simply, everything you would expect from a José Feliciano version of a Sting song.
The media, relishing the 'meme-ability' of the moment, took Sting's side, roundly criticising Feliciano, Krstic and the rest of the musicians for their performance.
But the fact is, although Sting was gracious enough to praise Feliciano during his acceptance speech, claiming that the Puerto Rican was an inspiration as a guitarist and singer, the Englishman's face during the concert told another story: one of conceit and superiority.
Each twist of his lip and lowering of his gaze screamed Brexit. The Northumberland-born singer may have supported 'remain', but here he can be seen displaying the same prejudice that migrants (yes, that includes Puerto Ricans) are currently having to deal with throughout the UK. Sting is no longer the ‘legal alien’ he sang about in 'Englishman in New York': now other migrants are the ones left feeling out of place thanks to attitudes like the one he displayed during Feliciano's performance.