The Ohio State Marching Band is appropriately known as the “best damn band in the land” and you’ll probably agree after watching this Michael Jackson tribute that has gained a ton of attention and millions of views on YouTube. You’ll be stunned to watch the band simulate Michael Jackson moonwalking.
There’s plenty of musicals out there, and New York is always at the hub of musical theater with its Broadway shows drawing tourists from all over the globe. It’s an establishment that has managed to bring us some of the most inspiring and spellbinding performances, which have in turn lodged themselves in popular culture – “Cats,” “Wicked,” “The Lion King.”
As directors and writers become more and more ambitious, the stakes have invariably risen from Broadway’s inception, and both the sets and grandeur of performances has advanced considerably. The make-up and set design alone for “The Lion King” is extravagant, with actors donning costumes that turn them into a veritable Serengeti.
Like any art form, musical theater tends to reflect the era it came out of, both in terms of politics, language, and culture. And like any art form, we often refer back to it as a way to remember the past and partake in the particular kind of nostalgia that only music can offer. The fascination with the past, and especially with the era that spawned musical theater in the 1920’s, hasn’t lost any of its mystique or appeal over the years.
Whether it’s Kevin Costner and Sean Connery in “The Untouchables,” or a suave Johnny Depp in the latest gangster movie “Public Enemies,” we have always idealized or romanticized that time in the past when bank robbers abounded, there was a speakeasy on every street corner, and crisp suits and sharp fedoras were the norm. It’s also the reason that when we look back on musical theater, we can see a lot of American culture embedded in it.
One musical theater piece that has stood the test of time is Guys and Dolls, which premiered in the 1950’s and focused on the darker aspects of the 1920’s – primarily, illegal gambling and horse races. It follows the escapades of three small-time gamblers, one who wants to get in on a floating crap game, but who doesn’t have the $1000 credit to put on the line. He accepts a bet to take out a beautiful and hard-charmed “doll” to Havana, but things don’t go as smoothly.
The musical was such a hit that five years later it was turned into a film adaptation with Marlon Brando. Another screen adaptation is planned for 2013, starring Channing Tatum. It’ll be interesting to see Tatum belt out songs like “The Oldest Established” or “I’ve Never Been In Love Before.”
While it’s true that the style of singing has changed considerably over the years, even new releases on Broadway still take their cue from works like Guys and Dolls, in terms of choruses and narrative storytelling through song and dance. As a result, Guys and Dolls has seen numerous recurrences and reincarnations over the years, the latest being in 2009. In 2014 another show is expected to debut, with Gordon Greenberg directing.
I stumbled onto this brutal take down of Bono and U2 in this article about when U2 almost jumped the shark with “Rattle and Hum.” The video picks out the 5 worst parts of the movie with Bono in all of his self-important glory. The video shots of him walking around onstage shirtless with just suspenders on are pretty pathetic. U2 is a great band, and all great artists stumble from time to time. This was a particularly bad one.
We live in a world where reality is often blurred. We see it with the use of Photoshop, which can make anyone look better with tool like the blur function. Of course we hear in in music with the Autotune function, which apparently can make anyone sound good.
Keep that in mind as you watch and listen to Britney Spears, as this video purports to have the unaltered feed of Britney’s voice.
Britney still looks hot, and of course she can be the ultimate party girl as well. We’re glad she’s around. But is she a real singer or just a sexy package put out there to sell records? You be the judge.
UPDATE: Here’s an article with a photo that shows how Britney’s body is being “fixed” in her videos as well.
The NFL is on a roll in terms of popularity, and that has also translated to the Super Bowl half time show. While most football fans are checking out sportsbook reviews as they prepare to wager cash on the big game, many more casual fans are waiting for the half time show each year. This coming year we’ll have Bruno Mars as the featured superstar as the organizers went for a much younger act.
Not that the older acts were busts. Madonna did an excellent job with her half time show. Bruce Springsteen was also excellent several years ago. But if you look at the performers recently since the program started focusing on one artists, it’s really been mostly a classic rock tribute show. Iconic performers like the Rolling Stones, Prince, U2, Paul McCartney and The Who have been tapped along with Bruce and Tom Petty.
Then, with Beyoncé last year and the Black Eyed Peas several years ago, we started seeing more contemporary artists getting the nod. The Beyoncé reunion with Destiny’s Child was a very big hit last year as the dancing became a huge part of the show as it did with the Madonna performance.
Now with Bruno Mars we have another young performer who can really dance, so we can expect a pretty lively show this time as well. Though you have to wonder if the cold weather in New York might affect the half time show along with the game itself. The decision to have the game in New York during February was quite controversial.
The Super Bowl has come a long way since the first game that wasn’t even a sellout, and the half time show has changed quite a bit as well. The spectacle of these performances are light years away from the marching bands that were booked in the early days. I remember when the Orange Bowl half time show was the most talked about event of its kind. Now nothing really compares to the Super Bowl show.