For ceremonies that have spurred much speculation about the quantity and quality of performers, the Presidential Inaugural Committee seemed to overlook an obvious choice: Kanye West.
West and President-elect Trump participated in a high-profile meeting at Trump Tower in December, sparking some speculation that West might end up participating in the inauguration celebration.
So why is a rap legend and potential Trump bestie not performing at the ceremonies?
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“We haven't asked him,” committee chairman Tom Barrack said in an interview Monday night with CNN. “He considers himself a friend of the president-elect, but it's not the venue. The venue we have for entertainment is filled out. It's perfect. It's going to be typically and traditionally American, and Kanye is a great guy, we just haven't asked him to perform. We move on with our agenda.”
So which genres, then, are considered “typically and traditionally American”? Let’s look at the entertainers who are scheduled to perform.
Country music? Check. Toby Keith, Lee Greenwood and the Frontmen of Country (an early 1990s supergroup of sorts, featuring members of Little Texas, Diamond Rio and Restless Heart) will kick up some dust.
Hard rock? Indeed. Brace yourself for 3 Doors Down.
R&B and soul? Yep. Chrisette Michele and Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave) will lift their voices at the festivities.
DJing and drumming? Sure, why not? DJ Ravidrums will be pummeling his drum kit.
High school marching bands, baton twirling, Celtic pipe and drum bands and the dance stylings of “Lord of the Dance” Michael Flatley? Absolutely.
By process of elimination, it would seem that committee chairman Barrack doesn’t find hip-hop or rap “traditionally American” despite the genre’s origins in the president-elect’s beloved New York City. Other shut-outs include jazz, folk and pop, to name a few.
For those genres, look to the lineup of performers for the Women’s March on Washington, which includes artists like Janelle Monáe, Maxwell, Angelique Kidjo and Neko Case, as well as MC Lyte, the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter, among many others.
For indie rock, there’s OK Go’s cover and accompanying video of Morrissey’s “Interesting Drug,” reframed as a pointed critique of Trump. (The opening line is, “There are some bad people on the rise.”)
Or check out Fiona Apple’s epic (and NSFW) ear worm of a chant, written for Saturday’s Women’s March.
Inauguration events begin Thursday with a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and the Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
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