A great idea doesn’t necessarily translate into a great product.
Therefore, I don’t think I was alone in being irrationally amped up for the latest in this summer’s onslaught of reality television programming, Hit Me Baby One More Time.
The concept is simple and brilliant: bring back one-hit wonder artists from the 80s and early 90s and have them compete for some kind of back-from-the-has-been-dead (has been undead?) title. It would be a chance, I thought, to see what artists like Sophie B. Hawkins, Vanilla Ice, and Irene Cara look like today and if they’ve still proverbially “got it.”
As Loverboy took the stage to perform their magnificent 80s ode to the working man, “Weekend,” live on stage Thursday night, I got a little bit worried. It wasn’t so much that the band looked twenty years past its prime… well, okay, it was that the band looked twenty years past its prime. What’s worse was that they sounded thirty years off the mark with a tired, uninspired performance that caused me to say, live from my living room, “I wish they would just play the original and have done with it.”
The next few segments did not improve my initial impressions. A Flock of Seagulls came out and got to show the nation that they’re more than a hairstyle (or a state of mind). The musicians sounded great, too, upbeat with that great 80s synth-pop vibe. Unfortunately, the vocals couldn’t keep up.
It’s just not a good sign when your mind drifts to thinking about the ravages of age when you’re watching a rock n’ roll performance.
Tiffany and CeCe Peniston (she of “Finally” fame) were lackluster as well.
By the time Arrested Development (not the brilliant sitcom, kids) glided onto the stage, my finger was hovering dangerously close to the “Any Other Channel” button on my remote control. Fortunately, I decided not to pull the trigger and was rewarded with a energetic, grooving, and melodic rendition of their pre-grunge days hit, “Tennessee.” The group sounded and looked fresh, like the kind of act you would simply love to stumble upon at a New York or Atlanta club.
Thank the Lords of Reality TV (hallowed they be) that Arrested Development was awarded the most votes by the live audience at the end of the show. It’s a smite odd that the winner is awarded to a donation to the charity of their choice. You’d think that after a generation out of the spotlight, some of these bands could use a little cash.
One bad move on the part of the producers. It’s a great idea to bring the winning performer back at the end of the night to do their thing over the closing credits. But please (Lords) let them do a different song than their one hit. I mean, give us a little “Mr. Wendel.” Give us something.
I’m severely tempted to say that I won’t watch Hit Me Baby One More Time again, but I can’t. I need to see what Vanilla Ice and Sophie B. and Cameo (Lords! I beseech thee to bring Cameo forth!) are up to these days.
I think we all like seeing who still has a little magic left.