It’s a simple matter of fact that most songs about this town suck.
For now and ever more Wilbert Harrison’s rendition of Kansas City will define this town not only because it was a number one hit that garnered mainstream success but also because the year it hit the charts (1959) was really the last time anyone cared about this po’dunk place.
Sadly, the Kansas City Star FYI section’s recent song contest was not only pointless, it just might affirm my argument. Take a look:
Here’s the passage that started off the contest: "Sing us an original song extolling the virtues and vices of our fair city and you could win fabulous prizes. (OK, they’re not all that fantastic. These are difficult times, after all. And, technically, we haven’t determined what the prizes are yet.)"
Typical newspaper people, always wanting something for nothing just by the mere virtue of their existence.
Check out the contenders allegedly chosen "out of hundreds" of submissions:
The first selection is just awful, grainy and twangy. Turn your speakers down if you decide to take a listen.
Kansas City Consonance is supposed to be clever because the author notes it’s a poetic alliteration for all the cretins checking out her clip that couldn’t figure it out with their own cognition. The tune is obviously the muse of a bored English teacher who gets off on the fact that she’s smarter than all of her students.
I started out hopeful with "City Of Fountains" because the artsy guy did well playing guitar. Sadly, singing and writing songs is not his strength. It’s not so much a song about Kansas City as it is some guy dicking around on guitar in his dining room.
Kansas City by "BigUglyGuys" is simply recycled content that sounds like a commercial for a casino or the opening credits to a really enthusiastic porn movie.
Beat of My Heart is a soul tune that’s also recycled content. "Beat of my heart and heart of my beat" is a nice line to give to a chick at a bar but it doesn’t really speak to anything in particular in Kansas City. Also, I don’t think this town would be best represented by a song that sounds like rejected material for a Farmland commercial.
Kansas City Bar-B-Q! by The Mighty Moe-Joes obviously wasn’t recorded specifically for this contest and, again, seems like a commercial song reject. However, if coronary artery disease was looking for a theme song. I think this one could easily become a finalist.
Welcome to Kansas City is a hip-hop selection that never had a chance. The song isn’t too horrible for a mixtape artist. You d-bags probably wouldn’t know this if I didn’t note it, but there’s an important error with this song related to style. The hip-hop style used in this recording is often described as "hyphy" and that’s more indicative of the Bay Area and doesn’t really have anything in common with KC at all. On the bright side, this is a better marketing tactic, the artist "MysUnderStood" is promoting his new album for the Spring 2011 entitled Welcome to Kansas City. I really doubt his promoters expected a win here.
Strange, "Showtime in Kansas City" seems like a bad acid trip but the song is smooth and the artist KC Diamond has a nice voice. So far this is the least objectionable tune I’ve heard in the contest.
Mr. C gives us "KC Groove" from his webcam. It seems like he’s making up the words as he’s going along, but on the bright side his harmonica playing is solid. With all of the other horrible video I’ve seen the guy deserves credit for keeping it simple.
King Of Kansas City from Rick Malsick is the most polished looking video featuring the artist in a professional studio. The song also put me right to sleep, maybe because Malsick has a very nice "cool uncle" routine down from 30 years of development.
Finally, the tune sounds more like old school renditions of "Going To Kansas City" and since this is supposed to be an UPDATED song for Kansas City it’s worth noting that "$5 and and a new pair of shoes" won’t get a person very far in this town nowadays.
If Malsick was Kansas City’s cool uncle, then Rich O’Brien is Kansas City’s not so cool step-grandpa. Kansas City, You’re for Me! is a noble effort by an amateur musician who should definitely stay that way.
Kansas City by Betsy & Lindsey Jones is a trip back to the late 90’s and the glory days of the Lilith Fair. I like the tune and these sisters obviously have some musical talent. Replace the words with some clever lyrics about lesbian experimentation and these sisters would soon be in the Top 40.
And now on to the winner…
When You Come To Kansas City by Andy DeWitt is the most generic bit of musical tripe that I’ve ever heard and simply reads off a list of local places and facts. Of course this safe tune was the "winner" in The Star’s contest. Here’s the money line for their FAIL: "Kansas City, where I’m happy to live and happy to play in the middle of the U.S.A."
That almost sounds like an apology.
Bruce Rodgers singing Back to Kansas City is my personal favorite. It sounds like a show tune or an old vaudeville number. Sure, it’s not the greatest thing I’ve ever heard but I can tell he means it and that’s enough. Credit to the web tech that put this list together, it was a nice ending point for the cavalcade of otherwise medicore music.
Looking at all of these artists it’s obvious that there is a dearth of talented musicians who take pride in this town or at least those who want to play games with The Star. While all of the artists deserve credit for sticking out their necks and offering a tune, none of these tunes come even close to defining this town.