Well, I have to admit that we have not gone down to the Mall to see the fireworks in several years. It used to be an annual ritual – going down early, getting a good seat on the Capitol grounds, listening to the National Symphony and watching the fireworks to the strains of Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”. Ah, but that was then and this is now.
Now, we stay home and turn on PBS and watch the entertainment and the fireworks on TV, the same as we would do if we lived in Ypsilanti or Tuscaloosa.
I have to say that the fireworks this year looked spectacular – it was a very long display, beautiful colors and shapes, and it looked like everything went off perfectly.
But the entertainment? Now, most of the “stars” that entertained the audience were people I have never heard of. I don’t know whether that makes me more or less qualified to judge them. And I generally don’t want to judge anyone harshly in a blog post – because why should I? I am not a qualified critic, I am not an expert on their arts, etc. But tonight I will make an exception.
The moderator of the show is, he said, the moderator of “Dancing With the Stars”, a show I have never watched. He is clearly a central casting moderator – good looking with a full set of graying hair and a fine voice, one who reads teleprompters expertly and who smiles a lot, and someone lacking completely in humor, spontaneity, and (at least on stage) normal human qualities.
And then there were the performers. First, I will start with the two earned grades of, say, B or B+. Kelli O’Hara did a more than passable job singing her medleys of patriotic songs, although she looked a little stiff and sang with what I thought was a British intonation (strange for an Oklahoman). And Frankie Valli, although his voice has thinned, and his energy level displays his 80 years (he looks great, by the way) certainly gets a good grade for his three pieces.
But what about these others? Patti LaBelle sang “Over the Rainbow” in a manner making it hard to recognize the tune (it does not need fancy embellishment), country singer Sarah Evans was completely nondescript, Michael McDonald was an embarrassment, Phillip Phillips and Kendall Schmidt (speaking of people I have never heard of) wouldn’t get parts in local musicals, and Jordan Sparks sounded ordinary, ordinary, ordinary. Even John Williams’ new arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner” simply sounded like “The Star Spangled Banner”. Oh for the days, when the NSO led the way, with just a top star guest or two making an appearance. Mstislav Rostropovich provided much more spirit than………sorry, already forgot the name of that guy who was conducting the orchestra.
Did the on-site audience enjoy the show? They were tapping their feet and moving their lips, so perhaps so. I know there’s no accounting for taste. But for me………to show off the great talent that we have in our country, we could do a lot better.