The music at the Winter Olympics was terrible. It was painfully obvious that the majority of televised performances were lip-synched, and that god-awful theme song “I Believe” was so sappy I could’ve poured it on my pancakes. But without a doubt the most disappointing and flat-out embarassing moment of these Olympics for fans of Canadian music was the closing ceremonies.
Let me jog your memory, given that the ceremony was over a week ago: Neil Young started off with the heartfelt “Long May You Run.” It was great, and seemed to be indicative of things to come. Then came Nickelback. Then Avril Lavigne. Uh oh. I thought Alanis Morissette would steer things back on course only to gaze dumbfoundedly at the TV as Simple Plan and Hedley took the stage. The whole thing ended with the “only-known-in-Quebec” Marie-Mai and k-os, but I was too busy trying to pick my jaw up off the floor to pay attention. Canada may have owned the gold on the podium, but this line-up shouldn’t have made it past the qualifiers.
Was that really the best Canada had to offer? Nickelback? Congratulations, one of the most laughed-at bands is now a beacon of Canadian music. Avril? Is she even relevent anymore? All of Eastern Europe probably thinks we condone the glorified attempt at pop stars that are Hedley. For a country with a wealth of musical talent, these choices were disappointing, and that’s putting it nicely.
Now, before everyone immediately attacks me for riding my “indie” high-horse, don’t think I don’t understand why these acts were chosen. Hate on them all you will, but Nickelback is one of the biggest bands in the world and Avril Lavigne has sold plenty of records. Simple Plan and Hedley are pretty big too, at least by Canadian standards. These acts don’t sell millions of records for no reason; people like them, and in an event that’s intended for a worldwide audience it’s understandable that decisions were made based on popularity. After all, Nickelback hasn’t sold all 30 million of its records in Canada alone.
But just like student government, choosing popularity isn’t always the best call. Yes, the acts chosen have sold a lot of records, but how many over-30 fans of Simple Plan or Hedley are there? Under-25 Alanis fans? No question there are some, but in picking acts that only appeal to certain groups, you neglect a significant portion of the audience. While the entertainment strived for mass appeal, it should’ve instead focused on broad appeal. Yes, people will say that there was something for everyone: Avril for the kids, Alanis for the older crowd, and k-os for the hip-hop fans. But why did everything have to be so polarizing? There are plenty of Canadian musicians out there that transcend both generations and borders. Neil Young had the broadest appeal of the bunch and he opened the show (which is another issue entirely). Where was Rush? Great Big Sea? Broken Social Scene? Arcade Fire? Not only do these bands have far-reaching appeal, but they’re also actually respected by almost everyone. I can think of no better reason to be proud.
At the end of the day, you can’t please everyone, but oh Canada, we could’ve done so much better.