The Best of the Summer Concert Series, Volume One
NBC's Today sometimes seems like one of the most narcissistic alleged news shows in the annals of television. If they aren't doing a story about Matt or Katie going back to their hometown or something, they're doing one of those sweeps-month "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?" things. Hey NBC, I've got another question for you. Who gives a *#%&?!
Now comes this compilation of performances from Today's Summer Concert Series, which weekly brings some heartthrob or has-been act to Rockefeller Plaza to perform for a huge crowd of tourists. The CD, doing nothing to dispel the show's reputation for self-obsessed navel gazing, begins with Katie Couric telling Sheryl Crow, "I used to want to be Tina Turner, now I want to be Sheryl Crow." Crow does belt out a soulful, throaty, authoritative version of one of her best songs, "If It Makes You Happy." The rest of the record, though, serves up fairly predictable fare, like Phil Collins' dull take on "You Can't Hurry Love," Earth Wind and Fire's all-too-brief "September," and professional cheeseball Brian Setzer's swing orchestra version of "Rock This Town."
Amidst all of this middle-of-the-road mediocrity, there is also forgettable, lightweight junk like Sixpence None the Richer's "Us." The Pretenders' performance of "Human" packs the most rock n' roll punch here. Hootie and the Blowfish actually add a little jamming to "Hold My Hand." Classic rock warhorses the Doobie Brothers turn in a fair version of "Black Water." And it's a bit surprising that Donna Summer performs not one of her monster disco hits but, rather, the lesser-known "I Will Go With You (Con Te Partiro)." That song is preceded by a hilarious, selectively edited, brief "interview" in which Katie Couric refuses to let Summer get a word in edgewise.
But in the most cringe-inducing moment, the record concludes with a little Today show jingle called "America's First TV Family Theme 2000." A sample of the lyrics: "Stories that will make you smile and news that makes you think awhile." Edward R. Murrow is rolling over in his grave. Well, at least those suckers who buy this dull batch of retreads will be sending their money to a good cause -- proceeds go to the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance.