Published in The Cambridge Student, September 2010
This 12-member soi-disant “little orchestra” could be dubbed an elixir of quietude just as aptly as the cocktail comprising its name. Pink Martini can lull a restive child to sleep or heave the fuddiest duddy to take to Tango. Venturing such a veritable potpourri of genres, from the Portuguese sea-shanty to the Arabic love-ballad, it’s difficult to identify a unitary sound to Pink Martini, but their music carries the scents of the Mediterranean, the Far East, Latin America and Mitteleuropa. Unashamedly polyglot, Harvard-educated vocalists China Forbes and Thomas Lauderdale have sung in at least 9 tongues as varied as Japanese and Czech, besides their recurring repertoire of sexy Latin beats and Piaf-esque francophilia. In Lauderdale’s words: “if the United Nations had a house band in 1962, we’d be that band.” But this isn’t your standard ‘world music’-fix, nor the orgy of pretension it admittedly seems (hear their unashamedly poppy hit single Hey Eugene). Trendy, sure, but no less old-fashioned; their tunes consciously recreate lost sounds, of classic Broadway, say, or 1940s French radio, and historically-literate titles like Andalucia, Syracuse and New Amsterdam nod to previous centuries’ cross-cultural meeting points. Which is what Pink Martini is: music for the aspiring cosmopolitan.