The NBA made what I think was a smart move this past weekend; they ran their All-Star Game opposite the Academy Awards Show. Non-awards-show viewers like me were saved from heating up the remote by switching from channel to channel and instead were able to tune into something with a little more action and competition. If you are not a fan of the NBA I’m sorry for the blisters on your fingers. Last year’s NBA championship series featured the Miami Heat against the Dallas Mavericks with Dallas winning the series 4 games to 2. One of the featured stars of the series of course was the spectacular LeBron James. However, being one of the best (if not thee best) basketball player on the planet, Mr. James had one slight weakness in his game during the series – his outside jump-shooting. It goes without saying that LeBron plans to make it to the finals again this year. Therefore, what does he do this past offseason? Of course he has the funds and wherewithal to do whatever he so chooses… therefore he practices his outside jump shot! Not casual practice; I’m talking about hard, sweaty, knock-down, drag-out practice. As you can imagine, this season his outside jump shot has improved dramatically!
Unfortunately, this was not the case with either of the artists who were invited to sing the Canadian and American anthems at Sunday’s NBA All-star game. The group Neverest sang (to the dismay most likely of Canadian Prime-Minister Stephen Harper) their Canadian Anthem. Not being familiar with this young boy-band is not an excuse to be harder on them. I am being harder on them because they deserve it! One can also recommend that I do my homework and become more familiar with the band before whailing them. My answer to those questions and all the others are – NO! They don’t deserve my time. There is no legit excuse for such a bad performance other than – “not enough practice, not enough practice, not enough practice! As a professional, I can’t find any other legitimate excuse.” This was national television! I don’t care who was watching, why they were watching, or what you are singing; this is television and you are supposed to be a professional. They started out amateurish by looking at each other and waiting for one of them to do something; it took five-seconds for them to find their notes after starting to sing. For the sake of print I’ll skip a few other flubs… the most horrendous act of all was to allow this unprepared, in-experienced band to perform on a national stage in the first place! The television network will be better off if the decision maker for this act finds work elsewhere. Second to blame is the bands management, for failing to recognize that these young men lacked self-confidence. It was obvious that they did not put in hard hours of practice before this performance. Management must also take another hit for permitting the lead singer to think that he could vocally hack his way out of this jungle of non-notes; deciding at the end to simply throw himself off the cliff by vocally improvising a make-shift, rocky mountain, r&b riff that sounded more like Tarzan than its target. …nuff said.
The American National Anthem was mauled by non-other than veteran song vocal mauler Mary J. Blige. I intend no disrespect to Ms. Blige. She is a veteran singer who has maintained a place on the record charts for quite some time. For that alone she deserves respect. But she has also gained a reputation for lame live vocal appearances. Lack of preparation, I’m not sure? That sort of thing can happen once; but twice, or thrice? Again, I’m not sure? A veteran vocalist of television should know to be prepared for anything. But the television people can’t help you with your intonation, faulty attempts at high notes, becoming dejected during the song and all but giving up on it to the point that the producers fade out to commercial the split second you slap the last foul note into the right-field stands (baseball analogy – pitchers and catchers are already working out!) The amount of time, effort, and seriousness devoted to practice and rehearsal has not lost its importance in the music world or any other world for that manner. Some simply fail to take advantage of the opportunity to perfect their performance talents and become overwhelmed with other things like – hair, or what to wear.
Even if your performance is not top-notch it can be good, solid, and done well. The main ingredient is rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal – practice, practice, practice. God will provide the talent.