Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck review, ‘This is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr’: A self-righteous nose-rub

·2-min read
Johnny Depp announced as surprise performer with Jeff Beck at festival (Raph Pour-Hashemi/PA) (PA Media)
Johnny Depp announced as surprise performer with Jeff Beck at festival (Raph Pour-Hashemi/PA) (PA Media)

Most A-listers at the centre of the biggest celebrity story of the year might be advised to give it a month or two – for the internet babble around their high-profile court case to die down – before launching their big comeback.

Not Johnny Depp. He didn’t even wait for the verdict in his defamation trial against Amber Heard before touring the UK with Jeff Beck, ahead of their joint album,18, comprised from mostly classic rock covers. And just one week later, the Depp-penned first single from the album arrives. Its rather grubby timing guarantees that the music – unimaginative lighters-aloft arena rock balladry given more import than it can carry by swelling strings and Beck’s Floyd-worthy soloing – is virtually irrelevant, compared to the lyrical content.

Deprived of any more bed-soiling revelations and desperate to see this sorry circus drag on, the trending bar wants to know... is this Depp’s victory address? Well, possibly. Written back in 2019, it’s dedicated to legendary actor Hedy Lamarr, whose career in Thirties German cinema was cut short when she shocked the country with nude scenes (which she hadn’t approved) in 1933’s Ecstasy. It was only after changing her name that she made a celebrated comeback in Hollywood.

“Erased by the same world that made her a star”, Lamarr is a symbolic precedent for the scandal-led “cancelling” that Depp has claimed for himself. The song, then, certainly invites the listener to make links to his own predicament. “It’s so hard to talk when no one will hear/And everyone stares as you quiver in fear,” he growls, a little Jack Sparrow in his lip, concluding, “I don’t believe in humans anymore.”

Indeed, for copious reasons, the Heard vs Depp court case has destroyed many a faith in humanity. But if “…Hedy Lamarr” is a plea for empathy in its wake, it smacks far too much of a self-righteous – and over-egged – nose-rub. A month or two’s remove, though, and this would have sounded less dig, more dignity.

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