Cristina Monet-Palacci aka Cristina Monet Zilkha — a No Wave recording artist who performed under the name Cristina on NYC's underground scene in the '80s — died April 1, reportedly of COVID-19.
According to a 2004 interview, Cristina had by that time been battling "an MS-like ailment" for three years, which perhaps made her more susceptible to damage from the virus.
She was 61.
Born January 2, 1959, in NYC she was a self-described Harvard dropout and intellectual who wrote for The Village Voice ahead of her eclectic, short-lived recording career.
With her husband Michael Zilkha (b. 1954) backing her up via his newly formed ZE Records, she released the single "Disco Clone" in 1978.
"One of the first things Michael wanted to do was a song called 'Disco Clone,'" Cristina told Time Out New York in 2004. "This being 1978, he thought he would cash in on disco, but I thought it was so bad that it could be a Brechtian pastiche. It turned out to be an eccentric and funny record-insane, enthusiastic, impassioned, amateurish."
Two different versions of the record included male vocals by Anthony Haden-Guest (b. 1937) and Kevin Kline (b. 1947).
She released a full, eponymously-titled album in 1980, and another, Sleep It Off, in 1984, the latter on Mercury Records sporting a Jean-Paul Goude (b. 1940) cover that he later knocked off for the Grace Jones (b. 1948) album Slave to the Rhythm (1985).
The album contained the track she would come to see as her "anthem," "What's a Girl to Do." On it, she sang:
"My life is in a turmoil / My thighs are black-and-blue / My sheets are stained, so is my brain / What's a girl to do?"
Among her other songs were covers of "Drive My Car" (as "Baby You Can Drive My Car") and "Is That All There Is?" (both 1980), which so incensed songwriters Jerry Leiber (1933-2011) and Mike Stoller (b. 1933) that they sued and successfully suppressed it, even though its updated lyrics were arguably fair-use parody.
They caved and allowed the song to be included on a 2004 re-release of Cristina, entitled Doll in the Box.
She also recorded the foreboding "Things Fall Apart," a single from a 1981 ZE Records Christmas compilation — and it's nothing like any other holiday song you ever heard.
Cristina and Zilkha divorced in 1990, and she focused on writing.
She summed up her recording career in 2004 with characteristic sarcasm: "[M]y singing is hopeless. One has to sympathize with the review that said, 'If Jackie Kennedy had made a record, it would sound like this.'"