11 December 2001 | warlock162
A Variety Show Which Does Not Have "Variety" Anymore
When I was a child in the 1970's and watch "Soul Train", it was wonderful. The show had so much spontaneity. You knew what was going to be done, but you didn't know HOW it was going to be done. The show was aimed at providing young "Black" flavor. However, David Bowie appeared on the show in the 70's. That was unexpected and thrilling. It showed the world that Black people in America can have musical interests beyond only disco, R&B, and soul. B.B. King appeared, showing that young Black people can enjoy the blues.
"Soul Train" wasn't just about the music. The show had comedians, special guest dancers, and real suspense on the Soul Train Scramble Board. The Soul Train Line had many surprises. In the 70's, male and female dancers did things together while going down the line. They did things that would make me jump out of my seat in amusement. They enjoyed what they were doing. When the special guest musical performers finished their routine, Cornelius would inform the performers that the questions would be asked by the dancers, to give the performers, as well as the viewers, some unexpected surprises. Then there were the dancers. Ahhh the dancers. Who could forget the Asian woman with long hair? Who could forget the man who sported a different mask and costume every week? One week, he was Darth Vader. Another week, he was E.T. Another week, he was Nixon. There was the dancing. Everyone tried to imitate those moves. These were the days.
Nowadays, Cornelius doesn't host the show. He had his string of guest hosts, which didn't work. He then had Mystro Clark. Clark tried to be too hip and cool instead of being natural. He didn't work. The execs replaced him with Shemar Moore. In my opinion, Moore is guilty of the same superficial hipness and coolness which lead to Mystro Clark being replaced. The dancers have evolved into snooty people more concerned with modeling their fashions from with mall and showing off their chiseled bodies than having fun. The Soul Train Line features people dancing individually. We no longer see the men and women doing things together. Probably because they all have become too much "into themselves" to want to dance with one another. Another note about the dancers: The women on the show are attractive. However, many of them cannot dance. They "get over" due to their good looks.
We all know the current structure of the weekly series: During the first segment, the dancers dance to a song. After the first commercial, the first guest performs. After the second commercial, the Scramble Board segment arrives. After the third commercial, the second guest performs. Forty five minutes into the program, the Soul Train Line happens. It's so predictable.
On the bright side, no one will ever get tired of hearing the exquisite voice of Sid McCoy, the longtime "voice" of "Soul Train".
"Soul Train" has become stale. Thought, the show had some great days. It needs to return to that. However, with the changes in the music and entertainment in the 21st century, it probably will not. The show needs to end gracefully. However, due to the continuing need to showcase "Black" talent in a Black context, it will remain on the air, the same way "Saturday Night Live" has remained due to NBC's need to give young comics their shot at the limelight, because that show has been stale for several years.
Back on "Soul Train", it had surprises. It had wit. Unfortunately, "Soul Train" is a variety show which does not have "variety" anymore.