The sound of silence

riff-149642_1280A funny thing happened on the way to the U.S. presidential inauguration. No rock star has offered to perform for it. And no pop artist of substance has agreed to play either. Their collective silence has been deafening.

In a recent post I predicted that the rock/pop community would take the lead in the mounting protest against the President-Elect. But I didn’t think it would happen so quickly. Unlike in the past—when, for example, U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Wonder played at Obama’s first inauguration—not one A-list act has agreed to show up this time, and the PEOTUS is not pleased.

The Prexy-to-be has had to settle for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir who, based on past performance at least, are unlikely to kick out the jams or rock the house.

In some cases this snub may be simple economics. The top stars understand a fundamental business lesson of rock: don't risk a fan backlash by appearing to endorse a cause or celebrity that is antithetical to their values. (In marketing terms, they don't want their brand to go negative by association—as I once wrote about here.)

All the more credit to each fan base—and the wider pop/rock community that eschews the white supremacy, jingoism, xenophobia, bigotry, sexism, etc. that the PEOTUS has publicly embraced in his campaign.

In other cases it's the performers refusing to compromise their standards. I can’t imagine the artists from the inauguration four years ago—Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, and James Taylor—even entertaining the possibility of supporting this inauguration. The fact that Ted Nugent may be considering it makes my point.

It should also raise a question about the perceived power, influence, and salesmanship of the next Leader of the Free World. Boston Globe columnist Renée Graham put it on the line: "If Trump can't convince [Garth] Brooks to don his formal cowboy hat and strum a few tunes for the new president, how will he fare against world leaders already convinced that he's a buffoon?"

As the weeks go by and the days get longer, things may get a lot hotter in the U.S. than the temperatures.

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  1. Not playing at the Inauguration is both a wise business decision and the right thing to do. It's no surprise that virtually none of the top rock, rap, or pop performers supported his campaign. But I wonder if eventually a top country act will consent to play.

    1. I'm genuinely surprised that no major country act has offered their services. Seems like a natural fit for a Toby Keith.

    2. Yikes, I spoke too soon! I just read there will be a private "Opening Day" party that Trump is throwing—after the inauguration—for the hunting community that supported his campaign. Toby Keith and Alabama will be performing for it! To show your working-class bona fides, you TOO can attend—well, for one million dollars. You can't make this stuff up.

      Of course I'd love to be there. Perhaps my more affluent readers can underwrite the expense?

    1. And Nugent's been hinting that he'll play. Let's hope so. It will further brand DJT as a wackaloon. Meanwhile he says he "doesn't care" who plays—which is as believable as his claim to replace ObamaCare and build the Great Wall.

  2. The best thing any 'artist' can do is stay out of politics. They won't be missed.

    Now let's see how many keep their promise... and move to Canada!

    1. The best of the classic rock greats were not shy about being involved in politics—including the Beatles (and Lennon and McCartney individually), Dylan, the Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, the Byrds, the Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and many more. Later you had U2, Green Day, Dixie Chicks. Now I'm hoping the younger artists will hit the street. This is one reason I love R&R. The great artists have used their clout to collectively speak out. Now that we have a 10 year old who's about to get the nuclear launch codes it's a good time to hear from them. Springsteen is the first to be going to the mat against the Clown Prince. There will be many more.

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