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.