The ever-expanding Pop Montreal music + film + art fest, which celebrates its seventh anniversary this fall (it runs October 1-5), has established itself as the top dog on Canada's cultural festival circuit.
The Pop team consistently set the gold standard in terms of innovative and intelligent programming, and the high-profile acts they attract -- this year's lineup includes noirish troubadour Nick Cave and British post-punk pioneers Wire -- are not to be missed. But their stellar reputation doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't given to flights of hyperbole.
See for, this year's edition of the festival, they've managed to convince revered pop songwriting icon Burt Bacharach to make an appearance. Bacharach is a legend in his own right, to be sure -- with lyricist Hal David, he's the brains behind some of the best ballads ever crooned by the likes of Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick, and made an Austin Powers cameo to boot. But as Toronto-based author and cultural critic Carl Wilson notes on his Zoilus blog, he may not be quite as, er, legendary as the Pop press team suggests:
Dear Pop Montreal, You know I love you. And I know you're excited to have such a very prestigious guest star this year. But this -
"To begin we have the insurmountable songwriting legend Burt Bacharach, perhaps the single most important figure in popular music of the 20th [century]."
- is just silly. Pop Montreal, sweetheart, may I introduce you to Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, John Coltrane, Bing Crosby, W.C. Handy, Robert Johnson, Jimmie Rogers, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Bo Diddley, Les Paul, Benny Goodman, Leonard Bernstein, Hank Williams, Howlin' Wolf, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney & John Lennon, Phil Spector, James Brown, Berry Gordy, Joni Mitchell, Chet Atkins, Lou Reed & John Cale, DJ Kool Herc, Rakim, Chuck D ... and the rest? Burt's an icon and he's written some terrific tunes that stretched some boundaries in pop songwriting. But runaway hyperbole is no one's friend.
A bit snarky, to be sure, especially coming from a guy who's given to his own effusive outbursts on arcane topics. But Wilson does have a good point.
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