Sunday, August 05, 2007

Strike Up the Bandstand

When Dick Clark suffered a stroke a few years ago, it was a blessing in disguise. That may seem like a cruel statement, but Clark was planning an unthinkable move: to bring back American Bandstand. Why anyone who witnessed the greatest century in musical history would think that what passes as entertainment today deserves promotion is beyond me. Wasn’t the common phrase heard on the program “It’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it”? Anyways, American Bandstand made its debut 50 years ago today, on August 5, 1957. Up until 1989, it served as the show that kept many a teenybopper happy and entertained after a long school day, since it not only featured lip-synching entertainers, but kids just like them grooving on the set and in the audience. The latest dances were demonstrated, and kids were asked to rate new artists.

Some interesting trivia about the show (as found on Wikipedia): only two artists (BB King and Jerry Lee Lewis) performed their songs by actually singing; they refused to lip-sync. Clark's worst interview with a singer was Prince, who gave hand gestures or one word answers to questions. And Tony Orlando performed his first hit on the program with an open fly! I've always had a love/hate thing for Dick Clark though for two reasons: he's never seemed (to me, anyway) to be a Beatles fan, and he unwisely told Bobby Darin NOT to record Mack the Knife, which became one of the biggest selling records of 1959. But what does he know? This is a man who wanted to bring back his show for the sole purpose of putting Jessica Simpson in front of a camera.

Don't bother looking for any episodes on DVD, however: a search on Amazon curiously turned up nothing, which means that for now, memories of the show can only live on in viewers' minds.

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