Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vegas Headliners of the Future!

For a long time, Las Vegas has been the place where the careers of music and comedy superstars have come to die. Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack used to play the original casinos in the 60's, selling out classic showrooms with their boozy antics and allowing them to ignore the fact that culture had pretty much passed them by with the ascension of rock acts like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. 
Elvis Presley was rock's original breakthrough artist, but he played out the last days of his storied career performing in The Las Vegas Hilton (recently rechristened as The LVH), completing his transformation from an icon whose raw sexuality frightened parents into "Fat Elvis," a caricature of his former self with a penchant for Peanut Butter, Bacon, and Banana Sandwiches.

These days, Celine Dion, Elton John, and Garth Brooks headline three of the most successful residency shows in Las Vegas. While none of these icons are as popular as they were at the peaks of their careers, Las Vegas has provided them with cushy homes from which they can sell out decent sized arenas at ridiculously high ticket prices so they can continue to feel as relevant as they did when they were selling millions of records. 

It makes a lot of sense for the artists to sign up for these Vegas residencies... the gigs take them off the grueling road after long careers of touring, and it gives them the opportunity to do something a little more elaborate with the stage-craft since they don't have to haul their sets with them from city to city. The residency shows also seem to sell better than when the stars take their acts on the road because audiences are more inclined to see them when they're on vacation in Las Vegas... it's a phenomenon that seems to come from the same place as the continued success of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.

But who will replace these superstars when they get sick of playing the parts of modern-day Fat Elvises? Behold the list below to see my bold predictions for the future Las Vegas residency stars of the past!

Pearl Jam: It's just about time for a popular 90's act to start a Las Vegas headlining gig. R.E.M. just broke up (and probably had too much integrity to agree to it), Billy Corgan has thoroughly nuked the legacy of The Smashing Pumpkins, and Pavement would only agree to the gig ironically. That leaves Pearl Jam, who haven't embarrassed themselves too much as they've aged and still boast a loyal fanbase willing to buy tickets to their live shows even though they haven't released an album of new material anyone has cared about since before the end of the Clinton administration. If the casino that books them can sell their tickets through a vendor other than Ticketmaster, I'd imagine Eddie Vedder and company would sign up for the gig immediately.

Other 90's nostalgia acts who could pull in the bro-crowd with a Vegas residency: Foo Fighers, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Prince: The Purple-One has actually already starred in a short-lived Las Vegas residency, selling out a series of intimate shows at The Rio for a month back in 2007 before disappearing back into his magical fantasy-land. But a more filled out Prince spectacle like his epic 2007 Super Bowl halftime show performance might be just what Las Vegas needs. The iconic pop genius could roll up on a purple motorcycle for Purple Reign and release a flock of doves (just so you really knew what the sounds is like when they cried).

Alternate 80's pop icons who could end up onstage in Vegas: U2 (because then they could build space-ship like stages to their hearts content and would no longer have to worry about Coldplay nipping at their heels), Morrissey (whose super-gay, British, and old-school stage presence would make him a a natural fit to take over Elton's thrown... if only he was a little more mainstream).

Bob Dylan: It seems like a crazy idea to have one of the most famous protest songwriters of all time take the stage in the capital of late-capitalism, but Bob Dylan has proven time and again that that he likes to completely and total eff with your expectations and that he truly doesn't give an eff about what you think. The super-genius songwriter has already starred in ad for Victoria's Secret where he sat in a throne surrounded by lingerie clad models, so is it really that far a leap to imagine the gravely voiced genius performing The Times They Are A-Changin' with a chorus of sexy burlesque dancers backing him up on stage at The Venetian?

Other 60's rockers who might sell out their legacies for Vegas money: Paul McCartney. He's written some of the best songs of all time but he's not above cashing in in every way possible.

Van Halen: Motley Crue starred in a semi-successful residency earlier this year, proving hard rock acts could hack it in Vegas residencies. If Van Halen could settle down and make David Lee Roth behave, they could bring some serious spectacle (as well as serious money from yuppies looking to relive their headbanger days) to The Strip.

Other hard rock dinosaurs that could get lucky in Vegas: K.I.S.S., Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, any number of hair metal bands.

Jay Z and Friends : The idea of Jay-Z becoming the first hip hop act to star in a Vegas residency makes so much sense I want it to happen ASAP. Hova could become the new Godfather of The Strip, bringing spectacle, a great back catalog of hits, and famous friends to drop in and do guest spots. He's already declared himself the "new Sinatra" in Empire State of Mind; why not create the Hip Hop Rat Pack (please don't make Rap-Pack jokes... I've already considered and rejected that awful pun) and bring Kanye and Beyonce along for the ride?

Other Hip Hop Icons who could rock The Strip: Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Tupac's Hologram (yes you knew that joke would appear in this article eventually).

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