There is a time when you can chalk it up to money, there is a time when you can call it a tribute and then there is a time when you can say WTF when a really great song is chewed up and spit up so far all over the place you just have to get on your knees and search for who is to blame.
I just watched the finale for Smash. I take that back, I started to watch it and the opening song made this blog.* They took one of my favorite songs, Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” and made it look like the Mouseketeers were doing it. I liked Smash, at least I tried to. I like musicals and dance but the show could never decide what it wanted to be. I felt bad that it didn’t work out. Until just now.
So, how did it happen? I no longer have cable to watch VH-1 and see if there is an episode of Behind the Music that shows the fall of one of the remaining members of Queen. I know David Bowie just released a new album, so maybe between the recording sessions for that and buying pants for Iman, he’s broke. But I highly doubt it. So do they have to give their permission? Or is it a case like Michael Jackson at time time owning all the rights to the Beatles songs and so you had to ask him. And well there’s a million jokes about why Michael jackson was too busy to pay attention, but I’ll take the high road.
So let’s say that the rights were available. Do you know why they picked the song? Because the episode is about the Tony awards and so they’re all “under pressure.” Come on! This is why your show is cancelled. That’s just like every teenage magician using “Whoa Whoa Whoa It’s Magic” from the 70s or Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra” from the later 70s or maybe it was 80s. These are talented song writers and creative people, Steven Spielberg is the executive producer, and that’s your lame excuse for a connection?
And then of course the voices. The best was Anjelica Huston talking some of the lines so that we can get everyone in. And Debra Messing just getting a little chorus part. There were two exceptions-Jeremy Jordan and Katherine McPhee actually had the voices to pull it off. Why, why, why, if you had to use that song couldn’t you just let them do it and have shots of the others looking nervous? Queen did it, they used Adam Lambert to front a concert and he was pretty terrific.
So that iconic bass line, light touch on the piano keys and finger snap led into a…joke. Wow, break my heart, you people just don’t care. Your version was worse than The Iceman Cometh or whatever that one hit (and not even his hit) wonder’s name was.
So who’s to blame? Who’s going to get their ass kicked? The original members of Queen are English guys and then there’s Broadway guys. I think I can take ’em.**
*I actually enjoyed the episode and loved the nearly a cappella number they did/ That’s what they should have done more of instead of trying to be too many shows at once.
**Just in case, I’m not really angry and I’m not going to beat anyone up. Sometimes people misinterpret my humor.