News in Review: Black Eyed Peas, Grateful Dead, Don Kirshner, Gary Moore
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2011, Volume 18, #4
Written by John Metzger
Fri April 8, 2011, 06:30 AM CDT
Black Eyed Peas Bomb at Super Bowl
On February 6, The Black Eyed Peas staged one of the worst halftime shows in the history of the Super Bowl. Some of the blame certainly falls on the NFL. The league routinely has favored predictably safe acts, and this year, in a determined attempt to target a younger audience, it jettisoned the classic rock artists that recently have dominated the program. The Black Eyed Peas, however, is organized to be more of a marketing vehicle than an actual band. Everything about its performance not only was incredibly dull but also was an utter mess. The outfit’s vocals were marred by off-key shouting, and its AutoTune-derived, robotic utterances have grown increasingly stale. Likewise, The Black Eyed Peas’ set list featured a predictable slate of songs that were strung together to form a medley of sorts, while glowing figures accompanied the group by moving to an unimaginatively choreographed routine. Guest appearances by Usher and Slash on OMG and Sweet Child o’ Mine, respectively, failed to put a charge into the proceedings. In the end, The Black Eyed Peas delivered a 12-minute showcase of material that served as background noise rather than entertainment.
Grateful Dead Licenses Material for Video Game
An online video game based upon the Grateful Dead’s legacy is being developed by Curious Sense. The band and its management recently agreed to provide music, videos, and artwork to the company, which is planning to create an interactive world that will tie together the outfit’s history and the unique experience it provided for its fans. The Grateful Dead isn’t the first artist to head down this path. Curious Sense also assembled Find Your Own Way Home, a game featuring a REO Speedwagon theme. The Grateful Dead’s strategy, however, sounds considerably closer to the one that Bob Dylan embraced in the mid-’90s with his CD-ROM foray Highway 61 Interactive. The primary difference is that the Grateful Dead’s model will revolve around social networking. Although the collective’s Terrapin Station project might not have been built in a physical location, it is easy to see how the concepts outlined by Curious Sense could serve as a platform for a virtual version of the Grateful Dead’s ambitious plans.
Mastermind Don Kirshner Dead at 76
On January 17, influential music executive Don Kirshner suffered heart failure and died in a hospital near his home in Boca Raton, Florida. He was 76. Beginning in the mid-1950s, Kirshner ushered in the era of Brill Building pop by assembling an astounding stable of talented songwriters that included Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka, Cynthia Weil, Barry Mann, and Howard Greenfield. Over the course of his career, he also founded three record labels (London, Calendar, and Dimension), selected material for The Monkees to tackle, and hosted a weekly syndicated television program (Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert). As a publisher, Kirshner was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007. He was on top of the world for so long that it often seems as if he never made a mistake. Nevertheless, he made a huge error in judgment when he sold his catalogue of songs for merely $3 million in 1963. While the move showed that he was aware of the changes that were occurring in the industry, he seriously undervalued the growth potential of his investment.
Former Thin Lizzy Guitarist Gary Moore Dead at 58
On Sunday, February 6, guitarist Gary Moore was proclaimed dead after his body was found at a hotel in Spain. The reason for Moore’s premature demise has not yet been released, though many suspect that he suffered a heart attack. He was 58. Moore was best known for his work with the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy. He began an on-again, off-again membership in the outfit in 1973, though his relationship with the group’s founders Phil Lynott and Brian Downey actually began in the 1960s. His initial stint with Thin Lizzy produced only one track: Still in Love with You, which appeared on Nightlife and was issued in 1974. Moore reconnected with the ensemble in 1979 to record Black Rose: A Rock Legend. He also joined Lynott and Downey during Thin Lizzy’s farewell performance in London in 1983. As a blues artist, Moore developed a sizeable following overseas, but he never was able to establish himself as a solo artist in America.
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