Lists: Five artists we wish would have performed at last week's Motown celebration at the White House
Last week's Motown tribute at the White House had some spectacular moments, but in my review, I groused about a few of the performers invited to sing for the first family. (The telecast airs tonight on WETA at 8 p.m.)
Sure, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson should have a lifetime pass to sing in the White House. But did we really need Nick Jonas crooning beneath the East Room chandeliers twice in less a year? And should the cast of "Glee" be invited to visit 1600 Pennsylvania ever again? No and no way.
Here's more beef: The performances didn't cash in on the flexibility of the Motown songbook. This is a record label that has touched every genre of American pop music -- and while country, pop, rock and R&B singers were all in tow, it felt like somewhat of an empty gesture. The renditions were kept way too faithful.
That said, here are five artists I wish would have been booked to perform on Thursday.
1. Dolly Parton. British singer Seal offered a fine rendition of the Temptations' "My Girl" on Thursday, but Parton's whispy read -- she changed the lyrics and title to "My Love" -- would have been a very welcome replacement.
2. John Fogerty. Yes, John Legend's performance was the program's highlight, but I would have loved to see another John cover the late, great Marvin Gaye. The Creedence Clearwater Revival version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" stands as one of the greatest Motown covers of all time.
3. Thao with the Get Down Stay Down. A far-flung wish, but I'd take Falls Church native Thao Nguyen over the entire cast of "Glee" any day of the week. Her cover of "You Really Got a Hold On Me" with her band the Get Down Stay Down would have made Smokey proud.
4. Erykah Badu. It's a totally different machine, but the Motown label still exists in 2011 -- and its finest artist should have been there last week. As her music continues to contort into fascinating new shapes, Badu's presence could have illustrated the label's visionary legacy.
5. The Roots as the house band. I'm still frustrated that the Obama White House hasn't booked a concert celebrating hip-hop. This would have been a very smart step in the right direction. NBC would have given them the night off, right?
| March 1, 2011; 2:15 PM ET
Categories: Lists | Tags: Dolly Parton, Erykah Badu, John Fogerty, John Legend, Nick Jonas, Seal, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down
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