Sunday, February 22, 2015

American Garnet

I haven’t posted about Steven Universe since late last year, when I was all agog about the pilot. I have been watching, though, and I’ve been liking how the show has slowly built a universe that’s equal parts kaiju fights and beachside campfires.

The show has also offered the world three awesome superheroines: the willowy, Diane Chambers-like Pearl, the brash, Cree Summer-sounding Amethyst and my personal favorite, Garnet, a towering, laconic woman whose stylish glasses hide a third eye, because she’s that rad. She comes off like a cross between Storm and Cyclops — always collected, always with a plan… the glasses, I guess — and I can’t think of another kids’ show that features a character quite like her.

Garnet isn’t big on emoting, especially in comparison to her teammates. This suits her character just fine, but I initially wondered if this arose from the fact that the woman who voices her hasn’t acted all that much. She’s Estelle, who came to fame alongside those other mononymic British singers Adele and Duffy. I didn’t think I was familiar with Estelle’s non-superhero work until I realized she sang “American Boy,” this flirty, upbeat track that seems at odds with Garnet’s stoic personality. I wouldn’t have guessed that the same person could sing that song and play Garnet, but hey — maybe Estelle has acting range after all.

Here’s the weird thing: The version of “American Boy” I have came to me via a mix CD exchange back in 2008, and it seems different from all the versions I’m seeing on iITunes, on YouTube and elsewhere online. The version that became popular features Kanye West rapping alongside Estelle. My version doesn’t. I prefer it. (If there’s an option for a Kanye-less version of anything, I prefer it, generally.) I don’t know if my version is an original mix or retread focusing just on Estelle’s vocals. But because I just couldn’t find it all that easily online, here’s Estelle’s “American Boy,” minus Kanye.

One quick Steven Universe-related postscript: On the show, Steven is a pudgy, irrepressibly imaginative boy who maybe-sorta has a love interest in Connie Maheswaran, a bookish girl-next-door type with overprotective parents. I’d like to think her name is an homage to Connie Souphanousinphone from King of the Hill, the bookish girl-next-door type who also had overprotective parents and who dated Bobby, another pudgy, irrepressibly imaginative boy.

Anyone else see this? I will maybe inquire further to find out if it’s actually a thing.

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