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Kanye West to Close the Pan Am Games? Give Us a F**kin’ Break! But…

I had a conversation with a promoter dude backstage at U2 last week.

“The Pan Am people came to us looking for an act to play the closing ceremonies. They said ‘We were hoping for One Direction.’ I said ‘What province are they from?'”

I laughed. “How can you have the Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada, and NOT feature a Canadian headliner for that?”

“Exactly,” said Promoter Dude, “It doesn’t feel right.”

Yet here we are with Kanye West. He along with Pitbull will close the Games with some kind of gala performance. Serena Ryder will be the token hoser on the bill.

Kanye f**king West? Seriously?  That’s the worst thing ever. And it’s also the best thing.

First, here are my objections:

  • I don’t want my tax dollars going to this asshole.
  • I don’t want my tax dollars going to this asshole who’s married to a Kardashian–especially THAT one. The thought of one cent of my tax dollars going to her makes me physically ill. [UPDATE: Live Nation is covering most of the costs, so taxpayer dollars aren’t an issue here.]
  • Kanye West should be tried for murdering “Bohemian Rhapsody” at Glastonbury.
  • Unbridled arrogance isn’t a Canadian trait.
  • The closing ceremonies are a tightly scripted event, both as a live show and a TV program. Will Kanye cooperate? Host broadcaster CBC must be thinking “We need a contingency plan if and when this goes south.”
  • Will be be family friendly? (Not that I care, really. I’m just thinking about the children, you know?)
  • Will he stop down in the middle of his live performance and render some kind of 20 minute rant as he is wont to do? (CBC director: “WHAT IS HE DOING? CUT TO SOMETHING WITH DAVID SUZUKI! NOW!”
  • And did I mention my Kardashian hate-on? I cannot stand that woman.

However, I can see why organizers made this call. And it’s a good one. A very, very good one.

  • Kanye West is a major, major draw. The Pan Ams have had a hard time selling tickets. This should sell out those closing ceremonies–if it hasn’t already.
  • Kanye is an international draw and these are, after all, international games. He’s known to practically everyone in the Americas.
  • He’s definitely a talent. Not my thing, but he is a talent. A bona fide superstar.
  • Anywhere Kanye goes, he creates publicity and hype that receives global coverage. That’s not a bad thing for Toronto and the Pan Am Games, which, let’s face it, are the Olympic Games tiny cousin.
  • The kids dig Kanye. Anything to make the Games more relevant to a young audience is a good thing.
  • It’ll draw a big TV audience, both domestically and internationally, which is a big, big part of this equation.
  • By the time the closing ceremonies roll around, fans will have heard plenty of Canadian music. I know this to be true because I helped select all the recorded music for Games venues. Those playlists are nearly 100% CanCon.

Let’s face it:  We can trot out the Usual Suspects of Canadian Music only so many times because we’ve done an excellent job of burning out our biggest stars. Dragging out the Tragically Hip one more time wouldn’t be all that special or interesting for an event like this–especially since they’ve been on tour for most of the year.

Me? I still would have organized some kind of all-star CanCon jam showcasing the best this country has to offer. Neil Young. Drake. Matt Good. Maestro Fresh Wes. Rush. Sarah McLachlan. Arcade Fire. Maybe even The Hip after all. [Insert your choice here.] Shit, even Bieber and Celine, fer crissakes. It might have made for a low-rated international TV show, but at least it would have soothed our nationalist needs.

Bottom line, though, is that Kayne is probably a good choice. I hate that I even typed that.

Am I going to watch? Probably. Because with Kanye West, anything can happen–and this is live, live, live. 

FYI:  Toronto mayor John Tory was under the impression that Kanye was Canadian.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38011 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

20 thoughts on “Kanye West to Close the Pan Am Games? Give Us a F**kin’ Break! But…

  • Can’t agree more Alan, it is terrible! Cirque did such a great job opening…and then we end with this?!? I love the games (Olympic as well), but usually get bored by the ceremonies, but Cirque kept me watching. I was expecting something as big for the closing…too bad.

  • Drake? Same vibe, almost same standing in the hip hop world.

    • Exactly. Not only is Drake Canadian, he’s from Toronto …

  • Risk-aversion *is* a very Canadian trait though.

    “The closing ceremonies are a tightly scripted event, both as a live show and a TV program. Will Kanye cooperate? Host broadcaster CBC must be thinking “We need a contingency plan if and when this goes south.”

  • Alan,

    You deleted a line from an earlier version of this post about how money going to Kanye West would result in “skank support” for his wife Kim Kardashian.

    Do you care to explain what you meant by that, why you thought it was appropriate, and what made you subsequently remove that sentence without noting that you did so for your readers?

    • I support your decision to delete the line.

    • I would like to know the answer to that question myself.

      Do you make a habit of calling women skanks? Or implying that they are supported by their husband’s income? I am pretty sure she has a few dollars of her own and I am even more certain that you have no relationship with her, so your hatred is irrational.

      I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Kayne or Kim, but I would have called myself somewhat of a fan of yours, until this article.

      Unbridled arrogance isn’t a Canadian trait, but clearly is one you possess. Get over yourself, you misogynistic asshole.

  • When the opening line is “So I was backstage at U2” you KNOW it’s gonna be a good one. Haha. Wow!

  • Was there not even ONE conversation where somebody said – remember the Black Eyed Peas/ Grey Cup thing? But of course, Toronto opted for Lenny Kravitz for their Grey Cup.
    I don’t care if you drag out the usual suspects, go with unknowns,or just go arthouse, this is a Toronto event. The talent should be Toronto talent. What a big slap in the face to Toronto and Canadian music. It says- we’re not good enough.

    I would have gone with Cold Specs, Shad, and Serena. They were good enough for panamania.

  • He’s a Talent? Excuse me? A guy whose basic facial expression is “I sat in some sh*t”, and who can’t carry a tune in a bucket of the same material….a talent? He married that pair of Boobs, is that talent? He’s a huge draw. Vortex is more like it. Whatever. I’ve only seen two performances by this guy, and neither was particularly remarkable, talent-wise. I’ll be happy to tune him out.

    Like any of the CRTC-endorsed garbage they could have picked.

  • Ummm….Rush maybe?
    Easily more well known and international than this guy.

    • I love Rush, but why what measure are they more international and well-known than Kanye? It’s not even close. . .

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  • You’re totally out of touch here, Alan. This notion that they should have picked a Canadian is the strangest thing. THIS IS NOT A PAN AM GAMES CLOSING CEREMONIES TRADITION. Also, Serena Ryder is one of three headliners!

    Everyone, stop recommending drake and or nickleback! They played the last closing ceremonies!

  • Am I too old to think Larry Gowan would have been great family entertainment. He could be up singing “criminal mind” to Kanye. Or go over the top and have Paul McCartney bump Kanye off the bill so the kids will realize who the star is between Sir Paul and Kanye.

  • “unbridled arrogance isn’t a Canadian trait”, ALLEN- if you take the time, as I am sure you have in order to sum up your latest edition blog, you will see that in reality- Canadians, and their vial unbridled arrogant postings on social outlets- is exactly a CANADIAN TRAIT- SHAME ON YOU CANADA! Worry and petition about something else-2 hours will fly by, and that’s it- but your negative behavior will last a long time- SMARTEN UP/ or sit back down and enjoy the show!

  • If selling tickets and being controversial was the arbiter of choice then why not have a public beheading – that would make about as much sense as Dickhead Kanye. Does anyone else think selling tickets to a trainwreck is a good idea? Ask David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young what he thinks of the third-rate poser Kanye. I would rather see Martin Short in drag doing show tunes than third-rate poser Kanye. You could go to any open-mic in rural Canada and find better talent. The only reason he is famous is that he tried to steal the spotlight from Taylor Swift. He is infamous for having no talent as is evidenced by the recent Bohemian Rhapsody fiasco. What idiot would hire this idiot. This will be a performance day that will live in infamy. I will be watching reruns of Second City or Gomer Pile to wash my palate of this national disgrace. Don’t even want to think of what song Kanye Dickhead is going to murder next. All we are saying is… is give Alfred E. Neuman a chance…


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