Did anyone else watching the Macy’s July 4th fireworks last night think that something felt a little…off?
For those of you who were embracing the fireworks tradition elsewhere, the famous Macy’s July 4th fireworks on the Hudson strayed far from tradition this year when it came to an integral part of the show: the music. Apparently, Usher somehow landed the gig of “curating” the fireworks show to “represent America.”
First of all, how does a playlist dominated by modern-day club and R&B music — Avicii, Rihanna, Swedish House Mafia, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and of course, Usher — represent America? It was a relief to finally hear America the Beautiful and God Bless America in the mix of all the fist-bump songs I’d hear blasting in a party cab back at college. In fact, the only time the fireworks really felt right to watch was when those two songs played.
Seriously though, take a look at his playlist:
So let’s look at the breakdown of this. (Note: It’s missing “Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke (I’ll give you props there, Usher), and “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra):
- 67% club, r&b and pop music
- 20% patriotic songs
- 13% other classics (i.e. “Change is Gonna Come” and “New York, New York”
Even more astounding, 27% of the total selection is made up of Usher songs!
This brings me to the other upsetting part about this: this traditional, iconic fireworks show was not so much focused on America, but instead on Usher. I mean, just read what he himself said in response to an interview question asking him “what went through [his] mind when Macy’s wanted [him] to put together the soundtrack for the fireworks”:
“Me curating, it’s far more than me just showing up and allowing my name to be on a bill. I wanted to represent America. I wanted people to understand something more about me artistically. It’s not just me being a dancer on a stage, but being able to recognize other incredible people and what they’ve done. To highlight incredible things we’ve overcome as people in America. Making an investment and being able to empathize and understand and give credence to some of the things we’ve had to overcome. And that right there is what I think creates a legendary artist, a legendary person, a legendary show.” – Usher
I actually felt bad for this country’s veterans, service people and their families who were watching the largest US Independence Day celebration play not as a tribute to this country and the values we’ve fought to uphold, but to instead focus on Usher trying to become a “legendary person” in a sea of non-patriotic music selections that are mostly made up of genres specifically not enjoyed by most of the adult viewers. Sure, make the playlist more modern if you must, Macy’s (as if using widely-enjoyed classic songs to celebrate a historic day doesn’t suffice) — but at least keep it patriotic and tasteful for your audience. Maybe I’m too sensitive for feeling offended by what I viewed as ignorant, selfish disrespect…but it just felt wrong. We have all day to enjoy barbecue, bocce and beer: let’s at least preserve the 30 minutes of the patriotic tradition of fireworks to be a powerful reminder about our country — not about partying, and definitely not about Usher.