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Stingdom Come 

Sting: a well-respected man (courtesy photo)

No one has ever encapsulated Sting's place in popular culture better than Hansel, the pseudo-Zen, nature-boy supermodel played by Owen Wilson in the 2001 comedy Zoolander. In an awards show biographical montage, Hansel cites Richard Gere as one of his heroes and follows by paying tribute to the former frontman of the Police: "The music that Sting makes, I don't really listen to it, but the fact that he makes it, I respect that."

From the beginning of his solo career - with the painfully earnest 1985 jazz/rock fusion The Dream of the Blue Turtles - Sting has been the essence of middlebrow, the sort of artist who is serious, well-intentioned, spiritually enlightened, and thoughtful, but blander than a cottage-cheese casserole. He's the classy face of adult-oriented, new-age, world-beat pop, and he can't take a poop without getting a Grammy or Golden Globe nomination for it. But does anyone actually enjoy albums like Ten Summoner's Tales, Brand New Day, or the new Sacred Love?

with Chris Botti
Friday, January 30
Majestic Theatre
208 E. Houston
In fairness, Sting has always been self-important. But at his Police peak, his self-importance came off as callow arrogance, just nasty and menacing enough to give him a punk patina. Nowadays, it's the smugness of a well-adjusted English country gentleman, a turtleneck-wearing man of letters.

Of course, Sting deserves credit for not self-destructing or clinging desperately to his past, as so many other rock idols have done. And even when it's utilized on dull ballads like "Fields of Gold," that high, piercing vocal wail remains one of the great instruments in music. Just like Hansel, we may not listen to Sting, but the fact that he tried to save the Brazilian rain forest, we respect that. •

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