The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards debuted last night, Sunday, Feb 8 with much old school fanfare and culminated with poignant, socio-politically relevant “glory.” It just took about 3 million years to finish. With an abundance of performances (More than ever before! Yeah, no shit. I had to tape The Walking Dead AND Better Call Saul!), how did the venerable (and not-so venerable) talents of the music industry fare?
It’s almost a week into December. Cue the top lists — Top 10 novels of 2014, 5 worst movies of 2014, Top 15 albums of 2014 and the Top 100 most repetitive and personal questions your extended family will ask you when you’re home for the holidays.
Instead of reading a list of the top songs of 2014, just listen to this lovely mix to hear what 2014’s pop music sounded like and reminisce about the time “Happy” was on every single radio station all the time.
Us the Duo seamlessly covered this year’s hits like Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, Clean Bandit, Pharrell, John Legend, Maroon 5 and more. The husband-and-wife team, Michael and Carissa Alvarado, started covering songs on Vine in #6SecondCovers and are the first Vine artists to sign with a major label.
Any other hits they should have included?
This week’s post is partially inspired by a recent film, but will be focused on stars from back in the day. I was recently invited to watch the award winning silent film “The Artist” with some friends. This got me thinking about some of my favorite old-timey stars and performers and I realized something: that kind of showmanship is probably never going to come around again.
There are some really great people to look at in the past, and I’ll be highlighting just a few. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments.
I had heard the name Buddy Holly before this week. I had heard songs by Buddy Holly before this week. I had never put the two together to actually create a figure of who he was. What a guy! Listen to this song:
Buddy Holly died in the late 50s. He was 22. That is a tragedy. He was one of the pioneers of rock and roll. I have no idea what he might have done with his music with an extra ten years, but you can hear the influence he had on some of the biggest names in popular music.
The Marx Brothers
My introduction to the Marx Brothers actually came from one of my older brothers, who was something of a film buff. At some point it became clear that these guys are absolutely amazing. They are seriously on another level. While there are a number of them in the films, there are really just three worth talking about (sorry Zeppo). I don’t know how it is possible that no one has produced a documentary about these guys and called it “Marxmanship.”
Groucho just created such a persona. Glasses, cigar, mustache, eyebrows. He was a character in every way. In some ways, he created a caricature of the character he made. The fast talking is a whole separate thing. You just have to see him perform for a few minutes to see that he was writing a chapter in the book of on-screen comedy.
Harpo does almost the same thing, but without ever speaking. Physical comedy is his thing. Also, faces. You can’t help but laugh at him. Harpo Marx is a coat, and a hat, and a curly blond wig, and a million props. Anyone who does good physical comedy today, probably learned something from watching Harpo.
Chico is my personal favorite. I find his background to be tremendously interesting. Before they all became film stars, he helped support the family by playing the piano. Sometimes he would book to play at two separate lounges and one of his brothers would wear a wig and play in his place (until they noticed that he was as good as when he was booked). This piano playing made it into some of the films and this demonstrates the real skills of a performer. He just owns the piano and the crowd. He doesn’t need to look at what he’s doing. He just makes it happen. Sometimes it looks like he’s just throwing his hands towards the keys, and somehow a melody comes out.
Bing is one of the old school triple threats. That doesn’t really happen anymore. I once heard someone say that Bing was a singer who could also act and dance, whereas other triple threats would be dominant in a different area. That is absolutely true. But he still makes it work. His performance is one of the biggest reasons that it is ok to watch “White Christmas” half-a-dozen times during the holiday season.
It’s very tempting to address other greats, but I want to leave that to the comments section. Anybody I’ve grossly overlooked?