April 15 2008

Dancing With The Stars Band

Harold WheelerDancing With The Stars is tripe television, I admit it.  However, that does not excuse the crimes against music this show perpetrates every week.

There is no doubt that band leader, Harold Wheeler (pictured to the left) has a large task in front of him each week with the amount of music the band must perform, all in varying styles; this, however, doesn’t make it easier to stomach the way they slaughter some songs.  Since season one I have waited for them to use the Moulin Rouge version of “Roxanne” for a tango, and they finally did a few weeks ago… and it made me want to die a little bit.  The film version of this song is raw, guttural, verging on the primal, but instead we got something akin to pop and saddled with lackluster vocals that didn’t deliver a tenth of the power the original did.

This is but one small example of the egregious handling of source material this band doles out on a weekly basis.  On last night’s show we were treated to the band not even being able to find the correct rhythm in the first few bars of “Pon De Replay” by Rihanna.  Around the second bar of the song they actually changed the beat slightly, throwing the dancers, Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough, off their steps.

Mr. Wheeler does have an impressive resume, and is well respected in the music community, so I am not sure what is going wrong here.  Is it sub-par musicians?  Horrible singers?  (I am sorry, there is no defending those singers, they’re awful)  Is it to many styles of music?  What is it?  As someone who loves music, this band’s slaughtering of songs is getting close to driving me away from the show completely.  Even Tom Bergeron, the host, seems to be having a hard time with calling them a “great band” anymore as you can hear him snicker under it from time to time.  (Quick aside: I got the chance to visit his old morning show, Breakfast Time on FX, once, and he is one of the nicest folks I think I have ever seen working on a television show)

Will it ever stop being so painful?  Doubtful.  We’re in the sixth season, and it’s the same pain each time around, and it sadly seems to be getting worse.  It would just be nice to see them NOT slaughter a song… just once.

UPDATE: Check out my follow-up to this piece.  Yes, my opinion does change slightly!

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