Something I’ve noticed about myself recently: I’m not very impressed by prodigies. I dislike the very sharp curve on which society grades young performers. Joss Stone is indeed a great soul singer for a white teenager from Devon. But she’s not in the same league as Etta James, Bettye LaVette, or Janelle Monáe. Johnny Lang, Nikki Yanofsky, Avril Lavigne, the never-ending parade of hardworking kids on YouTube–they’re just OK. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’re doing what they’re doing. Good-looking kids with both broad pop appeal and genuine skill help initiate new listeners into rich musical traditions. But if you take their ages out of the equation, I don’t think any of the folks I mentioned are really brilliant.