Feature Article - by Douglas
First Let me apologize to all of those of you who may be visiting the site to read my latest rant on the www.elvisnumberones.com website. I mentioned in my last rant that I would be reviewing the website, and that is to come, but certain circumstances have lead me to focus on another subject that I am sure you will agree is much more pressing.
It was the Thanksgiving Day special ELVIS LIVES shown on NBC. First of all let me state my disapproval of the advance promotion that the show received. For two weeks prior to Thanksgiving I saw what I would consider to be an excessive amount of promotions for the Faith Hill event that aired immediately prior to the ELVIS LIVES special. It was not until the day of Thanksgiving that I actually saw a promo for the show. (So, I am sure if you saw the special you are a dedicated Elvis Fan, or know someone who is.) Anyway back to the promos or lack thereof. Faith Hill is a very influential member of the pop culture music scene, but ELVIS is and was the pop culture music scene as the special pointed out. Don’t get me wrong I love Faith Hill and the BREATHE video really earned her a spot on my freebie list, but I do not understand why NBC did such a poor job of promoting the ELVIS LIVES special.
Well this rant is really not about the promotion of the show it is about the show itself, so let’s get to it. From the montage of news reports about the Elvis 30 #1 Hits to the parade of talking heads celebrities proclaiming Elvis as the King, the opening was enough to convince even the non-believer that Elvis has had an everlasting impact on American culture.
Although I did find the mix of people speaking of Elvis very interesting, I think it only served to help prove the point that Elvis reaches across every barrier and brings everyone together. Even the newest and youngest of Elvis fans are not fooled by the media intensive promotion of today’s “pop stars”, as one young lady admitted albeit, in front of a Graceland gift shop- that Elvis was and is a bigger star than Brittney Spears.
Now, what about Chris Issacs, I dare say another interesting choice to serve as host. And how did he get the leather suit that Elvis wore during the ’68 Comeback Special? I honestly did not realize it was the same suit until he mentioned it, I mean it just looked so much better on Elvis.
So, the opening was great, and then came the duet between Chris Issacs and LeAnn Rhimes. I thought the song was great, but WOW- did LeAnn make a statement when she walked on stage in that barely there outfit. I really don’t remember if I was as impressed with her singing as I was distracted by this once innocent girl, who has certainly become a woman. LeAnn’s attire was a great segway into the overly extended, needlessly redundant discussion of Elvis’ influence on the sexual revolution and his personal prowess.
It is obvious that Elvis had a great deal of sex appeal, but that certainly was not the essence of Elvis the person. Elvis’ actions on stage were simply the best way he knew to express his feelings about the music he was singing. Sure as his career progressed and he saw the pop that he received from the audience once he started to move there is no question that it became part of his on stage presence. But I think that the discussion on the show lasted way to long and gave a false impression of Elvis, and his attempts to be overtly sexual.
I did enjoy the way the special broke down the elements of current artist and credited Elvis with being a major influence on them. From Michael Jackson to Justin Timberlake, Elvis was one of the first performers to really express himself on stage. Until Elvis came along most musicians simply stood on stage performing some quasi-dance motion, which did little to express the music they were performing. As someone on the show said, "Elvis did not simply open the door of others to walk through he kicked it in".
I would like to know when and where all of the tribute songs were recorded, and are they going to be part of some other special that is yet to come. I enjoyed all of the tribute songs except Dave Matthews version of Stuck On You, I personally thought it was terrible. Not that I was ever a Dave Matthews fan, but come on give me a break, lets show a little more respect here.
And then there is BONO, with “Elvis: American David” while not a song, I thought the poem at the end of the show a nice, yet confusing way to end the special. I am sure they included the poem as an attempt to cover the fact that the special did not touch on many of the aspects of American culture that Elvis influenced and were not included in the special.
Although the special did not reveal anything that true Elvis fans didn’t already know, I think that the simple fact NBC aired the special is enough to prove that 25 years later, Elvis is still the King of rock-n-roll.
Until next time - That's my rant.