Stop The Presses!

January 19-26: Obamarama & Reunion Drama

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!

Well, we're sure by now you are all well aware that we have a new president of these United States, Barack Hussein Obama. And the pop music world seems pretty happy about it. From Beyonce serenading the First Couple with "At Last" at Tuesday night's Inaugural Ball to U2, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, John Mellencamp, Shakira, and many other superstars playing last Sunday's "We Are One" celebration concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, this week was one big music-filled political party.

But of course, as is the case with anything having to do with politics, Inauguration Week wasn't without its odd moments and controversies...

For instance, Aretha Franklin's amazing peformance of "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" at the inauguration ceremony was all but upstaged by her much-gabbed-about, outrageously bow-bedecked hat, a mad-hatter fashion statement so OTT that it was effectively lampooned by Ellen Degeneres on her show the next day. (We dare say Aretha wore it better.)

And when Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers performed at Disney's inaugural kids' concert, First Lady Michelle Obama upstaged both of them, getting the biggest ovation of all from the kiddie audience when she arrived on the scene. (She was later spotted dancing to the Jonases' music, however; and the JBs returned the favor by paying Obama daughters Sasha and Malia a surprise visit at the White House on Inauguration Night.)

Later in the week, there was a minor public flap when it came out that the Yo-Yo Ma/Itzhak Perlman-led quartet that played at the inauguration ceremony was actually miming along to pretaped music and not performing live. 

But Carole Florman, a spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee On Inaugural Ceremonies, simply stated: "I think this [controversy] is a whole lot of nothin'. These are world-class performers who are playing in 19-degree weather and the technical requirements of their instruments made it impossible for them to have their music amplified and know that it would be in tune. So they made, what I think, was probably a difficult decision to play to tape."

And really now, don't you think the people who work for Obama have more important things to think about?

So anyway, President Obama has already clearly crossed musical-genre lines (Herbie Hancock, Garth Brooks, and Mary J. Blige on the same Lincoln Memorial concert bill?). Now it just remains to be seen if he can unite the country in other ways...

Speaking of uniting--or reuniting, more specifically--this week it was announced that, after much protest from Led Zeppelin fans about a Robert Plant-less Led Zep "reunion" tour, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham will not be hitting the road under the "Led Zeppelin" moniker after all. It seems the band was unable to find a proper singer to fill Robert Plant's mighty boots. Gee, go figure. The Zep dues were auditioning people like Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy (it should be noted that Alter Bridge is just Creed with a different lead singer, which means Zeppelin were actually considering replacing Robert Plant with a Scott Stapp replacement), so it's no surprise that their audition rounds were unfruitful. Apparently the song does NOT remain the same, if Plant isn't singing it.

In other reunion news, rumors surfaced this week that the Faces--the '70s classic rock band of Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood--would soon embark on comeback plans for a 2009 concert tour and new album (their first since 1973). But old-school Faces fans weren't too thrilled to find out who Rod and Ron had reportedly recruited to replace deceased original bassist Ronnie Lane: Red Hot Chili Peppers bass ace Flea. While there was no denying Flea's phenomenal musicianship, it was hard to imagine that his funky, slaphappy rhythm style would gel with the Faces' bloozy sound, so this Faces reunion seemed likely to fall flat on its face. But now both Rod Stewart and Flea's camps have issued statements via Billboard saying no Faces reunion is in the works after all, with or without Flea. And the New York Post is further reporting that tentative Faces rehearsals last year did not go well, making a reunion tour seem unlikely. Talk about losing Face!

U2 is one band that never had to reunite because they've never broken up--it's incredible that all four core members have managed to stick together for 30-plus years, and even more incredible that they've managed to stay relevant. Case in point: their new single, "Get On Your Boots," which started streaming on U2.com this week to much critical acclaim. The song's galvanizing guitar riff and glammy stomp belie a band that first formed way back when Jimmy Carter was still the U.S. president, and the band's aforementioned performance at the "We Are One" concert in D.C. further proved that Bono and company have still got the goods...as long as they don't hire anyone from Alter Bridge or the Chili Peppers as an addition to their rock-solid lineup!

All the veteran artists mentioned above, and the long careers they've enjoyed, are evidence that age ain't nothin' but a number. These artists are truly ageless. And now there's another pop star who wants to be added to that list: Akon. Well, he at least doesn't want to know the DOB year on his birth certificate. Akon told the Associated Press this week that he refuses to find out his real age, because "all it's going to do is depress me. I don't want to know I'm getting older. Then I'll start to think about getting checkups and insurance. I don't want that." He then added: "I feel like I'm 21 right now. And I'll be 21 for the next 10 years." However, various reports have estimated Akon's actual age somewhere between 25 and 35 years old (and in 2006, he told reporters he was 25), so it's unclear why he wants to fudge the number now. Maybe it's so he can still get away with immature behavior like throwing concertgoers off his stage or lasciviously accosting teen girls during his concerts. But whatever the reason, we suggest that Akon still think about getting checkups and insurance anyway. Prevention is the best way to maintain one's youth, after all.

And so concludes another week in music news. Come back next week for more headspinning headlines, and until then--goodnight, and good music.

THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:

1) Obamarama - Music's biggest stars come out to celebrate President Barack Obama's inauguration.

2) Dancing Days Are Not Here Again - Led Zeppelin decide not to tour without Robert Plant.

3) Red Hot Chili Faces? - Rod Stewart denies rumors that Flea has been hired to play in his reunited rock group.

4) A Beautiful Day For U2 Fans - Bono and company premiere their new song online.

5) Britney's Parental Advisory - Family advocacy groups protest Spears's new single.

6) Akon Not Aging Gracefully - He awkwardly claims that he doesn't know how old he is.

7) B.I.G. Trouble - Four guests are stabbed at a Notorious afterparty.

8) The Next Carly Smithson? - A new American Idol contestant is causing controversy due to her major-label past.

9) The Fab Three - The Jonas Brothers' upcoming TV show will be inspired by old Beatles films.

10) All In The Family - Mariah Carey records a duet with her little brother-in-law.

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