Super Bowl 49 Features Greatest Matchup Of All-Time

Super Bowl 49 Features Greatest Matchup Of All-Time

It’s a matchup for the ages. If you’re a football fan you have to be salivating over Super Bowl XLIX. On Feb. 1, in Glendale, Arizona, the New England Patriots will battle the Seattle Seahawks in the game of the century. Professional pigskin’s ultimate match of the season pits the best team of the 21st century against the defending champions. It will be epic.

The Patriots and Seahawks share a penchant for winning, excellence, and success. They are both blueprints for how you build an NFL franchise.

They also had to overcome naysayers during the regular season. At one point (a Week 4 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs, 41-14), pundits were burying the Patriots and telling Tom Brady that it was time to retire. The Seahawks were similarly being dismissed after starting the season 6-4 (oddly enough after a road loss to the Chiefs).

Finally, the teams have two of the best fan bases in all of sports. Both franchises represent an entire region—the Patriots play for all of New England while the Seahawks are the only NFL team in the Pacific Northwest (the closest franchise is over 800 miles away). The Patriots are “Boston Strong” while the Seahawks have the vociferous “12th Man.”

The similarities, however, end there. It’s the differences between the Pats and Hawks that make Super Bowl XLIX one for the ages. Below, BSTLV contrasts the Super Bowl participants in five major categories. As you’ll soon read, the upcoming Big Game will be very interesting.

Championship Games
The Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers 28-22 in overtime in one of the most exciting finishes in the history of the NFL. The Hawks rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit, the largest such rally in a conference championship game (it was the third-biggest rally ever in a conference championship game). Quarterback Russell Wilson, who played the worst game of his career, had an inspirational finish as he marshaled the Seahawks to 21-points in the last 2:13 of fourth quarter and halftime.

>>The Seahawks are the first team to win after being down 10 or more points in the final three minutes of a playoff game since the 1986 Cleveland Browns.
>>The Seahawks are the first team to turn the ball over five times and win a playoff game since the 1982 New York Jets.
>>The Seahawks are the first team to throw four interceptions and win a playoff game since the 1981 Buffalo Bills.

The Patriots, on the other hand, did what they always do when they play the Indianapolis Colts. They won big. The Pats easily dispatched the Colts, 45-7 (the game wasn’t even that close). This contest was as bad as the Seahawks game was exciting. Minus Brady’s one interception, he played brilliantly. Once again, Bill Belichick had a flawless game plan, and once again, his team executed to perfection.

Pats vs. Colts – Last 5 Meetings
>>Jan. 18, 2015 – Pats 45, Colts 7 (AFC Championship)
>>Nov. 16, 2014 – Pats 42, Colts 20
>>Jan. 11, 2014 – Pats 43, Colts 22 (Divisional Playoffs)
>>Nov. 18, 2012 – Pats 59, Colts 24
>>Nov. 21, 2010 – Pats 31, Colts 28

The owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, is an affable fellow who exudes a grandfatherly charisma—a grandfather that can pull a girlfriend nearly 40 years his junior. You usually see him smiling while surrounded by celebrities and dignitaries. A couple of years ago, an embarrassing video surfaced of Kraft reading lines with his actress-girlfriend. He was trying to help her land a part in a big movie. Kraft joked about the situation.

The owner of the Seattle Seahawks is Paul Allen. He would have not laughed off such discomfiture. If Allen was in better shape he’d have the presence of a Bond-villain. When he walks down the hallway at CenturyLink Field, observers have to step aside and avoid eye contact. That’s not a joke. I used to be a stringer for the Portland Trailblazers (another professional team Allen owns) and that’s exactly what security made people do when billionaire approached.

Bill Belichick is probably the most hated coach in the history of the NFL. You might as well call him Darth Belichick. He seldom says anything of note to the press, is often accused of cheating, and appears to have a lifetime supply of hoodies. Worst of all, he does the one thing that is guaranteed to get him on everyone’s hate list and that’s win all the time—he holds the record for the most career playoff victories. Belichick was even accused of cheating after his team’s recent slaughter of the Colts. This time, in a story broke by Indianapolis reporter Bob Kravitz, the Patriots were accused of illegally deflating the footballs used in the AFC Championship game. The NFL is investigating the matter.

“I think I’ve heard it all.” — Tom Brady’s response when asked about the deflated footballs

Pete Carroll is ebullient and spry despite being the oldest coach in the NFL. He’s effusive in press conferences and not afraid to give one of his players a nice, big hug. Interestingly, he coached the Patriots from 1997 to 1999 and was succeeded by Belichick. Also, Carroll is an actual cheater. He left USC in 2009 as the NCAA was handing down one of its harshest punishments in its (not-so) illustrious history. Carroll is 50-30 as the Seahawks head coach.

Tom Brady is playing in his sixth Super Bowl. That’s an NFL record. In keeping with the “sixth” theme, Brady was a sixth round draft pick by the Patriots in 2000. Now, he’s synonymous with winning. He’s a deadly accurate passer with a coach-like understanding of his offense. On top of all that, he’s an emotional leader who’s not afraid to get in the face of his teammates—to either celebrate or castigate. A victory in Super Bowl XLIX will solidify his place as the greatest quarterback of all-time.

Here’s an amazing stat about Russell Wilson: during his tenure as Seahawks quarterback (2012 through now), Wilson has never lost a game by ten or more points. A lot of that is due to the Seahawks tough defense, but clearly, Wilson keeps his team in the game. He’s a leader, makes great decisions, and can devastate a defense with his arm and legs.

Wilson had the worst game of his career in the NFC Championship but still found the confidence to make big plays down the stretch and lead his team to an improbable victory. You can’t coach that kind of poise.

In their Divisional Playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots rushed the ball 13 times. In the AFC Championship game, they rushed 40 times for 177 yards. The Patriots will do whatever they need to do to secure a victory. With that being said, in every game but one this season (including playoffs) Brady was the game’s leading passer.

The team is deadly on third down. In the playoffs, they’ve convert 62 percent of their third downs. Defensively, the Pats allowed 20 or fewer points in eight of their last nine games. They’re the smartest team in the NFL, they know how to execute, and seldom beat themselves.

The Seahawks are the most penalized team in the league, until the NFC Championship game only Seahawk fans could name one of their receivers (27th in passing), and they have one of the worst kick return averages in the league. Yet, they’re going to their second consecutive Super Bowl.

The big reason for their success is their defense. If the Jets had the Seahawks defense they would be lauded as the greatest of all time. The Seahawks have led the league is fewest points allowed and fewest yards allowed for the last two seasons. That has only been accomplished three other times in the history of the NFL.

On offense, Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch lead a vaunted rushing attack (number one in the league by 25 yards a game). Their run game is punctuated by an efficient aerial attack. Thanks to their staunch “D,” Wilson and company usually only have to score 20 or more points to win.

Breaking Down The Super Bowl
Before the ball is snapped, the Patriots like to do a lot moving around; they also employ some exotic formations. Seattle’s defense pretty much plays straight up and then reacts after the snap. The Seahawks didn’t get to Aaron Rodgers in the NFC championship game but are usually pretty good about pressuring the QB. Brady is a different quarterback with guys in his face.

The Pats will probably throw quick, short passes and matriculate the ball down the field. The Legion of Boom will give up yards (even though they’re the best pass defense in the NFL) but they finish almost every play with a big hit. Look for the Seahawks to wear down the Patriots wide outs. LeGarrette Blount has been on fire for the Pats in the postseason but no one runs on the Seahawks Defense (minus Jamaal Charles). The Seahawks are third against the rush.

With that being said, the Super Bowl won’t come down to Brady versus the Legion of Boom. It will come down to whether or not Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense can put points on the board. In their 18 games this season the Seahawks have allowed 21 or more points just five times. So the Patriots defense needs to force turnovers and keep the Hawks out of the end zone.

If the Pats can make Seattle one-dimensional (i.e. stop the run), they’ll have a great chance to win. If Seattle gets a lead and can use their running game to set up the pass, it will be a long day for New England. Win or lose, the Patriots usually keep the Super Bowl close. This year will be no different. Still, the Seahawks win 23-16.

By David B.

How To Talk About The NFL And Super Bowl On Thanksgiving Day

How To Talk About The NFL And Super Bowl On Thanksgiving Day

If your family is anything like mine then the topic of who’s going to play in the Super Bowl will come up in conversation before, during, or after turkey dinner.  You’ll likely discuss the super matchup for no other reason than you should never talk politics with the family and everyone is tired of chatting about that one uncle and his “situation.”

When the subject finally comes up whom are you going put in the big game?

Right now, the likely candidates are the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots.

The Cards are 9-1.  They have quality wins over the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys.

The Patriots have won six straight and during that streak they’ve scored 40 or more points four times.

Of course, no one wins anything in November.  With an injury to Carson Palmer, the Cards are forced to use the untested Drew Stanton under center.  The team ranks in the middle of the pack, or worse, in total offense and defense.  And on top of all that, does anyone really believe the NFL will let the Cardinals win the Lombardi Trophy the year after it was won by the Seattle Seahawks?

During the “Tom Brady era” the Patriots have frequently looked like the best team in the league during the month of November but failed to be the best team on the first Sunday in February.  Injuries, old age, or the New York Giants have spoiled the Patriots’ championship quests.

Broncos and Seahawks

Perhaps you’re going with one of last year’s Super Bowl contestants?  The Broncos have dropped two out of their last three but are still one of the most complete teams in the National Football League.  Peyton Manning is an MVP candidate (again).

The Seahawks have struggled this year but they’re getting healthy and playing better.  They also have four games against the Cardinals and 49ers—they can make up a lot of room real fast.


A team hasn’t repeated as Super Bowl Champions since the 2003-2004 Patriots.  The NFL has never gone this long without a back-to-back Super Bowl winner.

Green Bay Packers

One of the best “don’t count them out” teams in recent memory are the Green Bay Packers.  Since Aaron Rodgers told fans to “relax” the Packers have gone 6-1.  That includes scoring 108 points in consecutive ball games.

“Five letters here just for everybody out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X.  Relax. We’re going to be OK.”  — Aaron Rodgers

The Field

The San Francisco 49ers are getting “healthy” and by “healthy” I mean their convicts are coming off of suspension.

The Kansas City Chiefs are definite possibilities even though Alex Smith is their quarterback and Andy Reid their head coach.

The Dallas Cowboys could represent the NFC in the Super Bowl if Tony Romo stays healthy and they continue to avoid shooting themselves in the foot.

If you trust Mark Sanchez there’s always the Philadelphia Eagles.

And the Detroit Lions can’t run the ball but they do have the league’s best defense.

AFC North

For a long shot you might pick any team from the AFC North.  The division is so competitive that whoever wins the race will be battle tested and ready for the playoffs.  The Steelers get a bye before Thanksgiving and then they get five defensive starters back.  Pittsburgh could be a factor down the stretch.

NFC South

Much to the chagrin of an NFC team that will win ten games and not qualify for the postseason, a franchise from the NFC South will host a playoff game.  Right now, the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints lead that division with 4-6 records.

Playoff Push

Watching and talking football will be on the menu for many households come the final Thursday of November.  But Thanksgiving is more than just a day when football is played.  It’s the unofficial start of the push to the playoffs.

Ultimately, it’s not how well you’re playing during the holiday weekend but how well you play afterwards.  Still, there will likely be at least one armchair quarterback at your gathering that’s convinced the Patriots and/or Cardinals are unstoppable.

Thanksgiving and The Super Bowl

Make sure you tell the armchair quarterback in your clan that since 2001 only five teams have had their conference’s best record at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend and won the Super Bowl.   The last team to do it was the 2013 Seahawks.

Super Bowl Winning Teams With Best Record At The Conclusion Of Thanksgiving Weekend

>>Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 9-3 and won Super Bowl XXXVII (end of 2002 season)

>>New England Patriots were 10-1 and won Super Bowl XXXIX (end of 2004 season)

>>Indianapolis Colts were 10-1 and won Super Bowl XLI (end of 2006 season)

>>New Orleans Saints were 11-0 and won Super Bowl XLIV (end of 2009 season)

>>Seattle Seahawks were 11-1 and won Super Bowl XLVIII (end of 2013 season)

Teams with the best records at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend win the Super Bowl just over 35 percent of the time.  Those are pretty decent odds but it’s not a sure thing that the Pats and Cards are going to Super Bowl XLIX (to be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona which just so happens to be the home of the Cardinals).

Having the best record at the conclusion of the Thanksgiving weekend does increase your odds of at least making it to the big game.  On seven occasions, the team with the best record at the conclusion of the long T-giving weekend has reached the Super Bowl.  So there’s a little bit better chance that we’ll see either the Pats or the Cards compete on Super Sunday.

The next question you’re probably asking is how many times since 2001 have teams with the best records at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend met one another in the Super Bowl?  The answer is five times—three teams had the best record outright while two were tied for the top mark (in our 14-year time span two or more teams have been tied for the best record in their respective conference at the end of the four-day turkey feast nine times).

Amazingly, Peyton Manning has been involved in the previously mentioned feat thrice—twice with the Colts and once with the Broncos.

While I’m on quarterbacks, Tom Brady has led the Patriots to the best record at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday on four separate occasions.

Five teams began to eat leftover turkey while undefeated.  Only one of those teams has gone on to win the Super Bowl.  That’s because the 2009 Colts and the 2009 Saints were both 11-0 after Turkey Day   and played each other in Super Bowl XLIV—so one of them had to win (the Saints emerged victorious, 31-17).

Since 2001, most Super Bowl teams are sitting at, or near, the top of the standings when the holiday season begins.  Only eight times has an eventual Super Bowl participant had four or more losses at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.  The Patriots of 2001 and the Giants of 2011 were both 6-5.  In 2008, the Cardinals were 7-5.

So there’s hope for just about every team… minus the Oakland Raiders.

At the very least, having the best record at the conclusion of the Thanksgiving break means you’re going to the playoffs.  Only once has a team had the best record at the aforementioned point in the NFL season and not reached the postseason.  In 2002, the Chargers were 8-4, tied with the Colts and the Raiders for the best record in the AFC, but failed to secure a playoff berth (they went 0-4 in December).

Only four times has a team with the best record, or tied for the best record, not won a playoff game.  The last time it happened was 2011.  The Steelers found themselves tied for the best mark in their conference, but came up short against Tim Tebow and the Broncos in the AFC Wildcard game

Just so you know, since 2001 only one team has played on Thanksgiving Day and in the Super Bowl.  That team was the 2008 Cardinals.  That’s bad news for fans of the Lions, Cowboys, Eagles, 49ers, Seahawks, and Bears (although the Bears are out of it for other reasons).  Those six teams play on Thanksgiving Day.

Now, if talking about Super Bowl XLIX is too much drama for your family you can always talk about which four teams should be in the College Football Playoff.

By David B.

ZZ Top And Ten Other Artists That Have Canceled Concerts Due To Injuries Or Illness

ZZ Top And Ten Other Artists That Have Canceled Concerts Due To Injuries Or Illness

ZZ Top is on the marquee for the 2015 Stagecoach Music Festival (scheduled for April 24 through April 26 at the Empire Polo Club in Indo, California).  Everyone’s favorite Texas blues band will take the stage on Saturday, April 25. 

We won’t hold this against the festival’s organizers but ZZ Top is listed on the third line below Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, and Justin Moore.  They get a pass for what might be construed as a slight because the Stagecoach Festival is, after all, all about country music.

ZZ Top’s Stagecoach performance precedes a string of makeup dates the trio has recently announced.  Late this past summer, ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill suffered a fall that seriously injured his hip.  His injury prompted the cancelation of dates from August 29 to the end of the year.

Some of the dates have been rescheduled for 2015.  Look for ZZ Top in Thackerville, Oklahoma on May 1; The Woodlands, Texas on May 2; Tampa, Florida on May 7; West Palm Beach, Florida on May 8; Saint Augustine, Florida on May 9; and Alpharetta, Georgia on May 10.

“We’re looking forward to getting out there and rockin’ it with Dusty in a big way…100%.” — Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons

Concerts the band was unable to reschedule include Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania from Sept. 25; West Springfield, Massachusetts from Sept. 26; Portland, Maine from Sept. 27; Fort Wayne, Indiana from Oct. 8; and Columbia, South Carolina from Oct. 15.   

Canceling a concert due to an injury or aliment is nothing new.  Below are ten artists that have recently jettisoned shows for medical reasons.

The Bad Boys of Boston have canceled a bunch of shows in recent years due to a myriad of ails.  The worst of it occurred in 2009 during the “Aerosmith/ZZ Top Tour.”  On June 26, lead singer Steven Tyler hurt his leg during a show in Wantagh, New York.  The injury forced the cancelation of seven shows.  Then, during an Aug. 5 performance in Sturgis, South Dakota, Tyler fell off the stage.  This forced Aerosmith to abandon the rest of their jaunt (20 concerts).

Beyoncé pushed her May 15, 2013 concert in Antwerp back to May 31, 2013 due to dehydration and exhaustion.  The doctor told Beyoncé she needed some rest.  As soon as the concert was axed rumors circulated that the singer was preggers.   She was not as she went on to perform 113 more times (the rest of her “The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour”).

An acute viral infection forced Cher to reschedule ten concerts on the second leg of her massively successful “Dressed to Kill Tour.”  Cher is 68.  If her health holds, her D2K trek will stretch into February of 2015.

Lady Gaga
In 2013, a labral tear of her right hip forced Lady Gaga to cancel the last 25 dates of her “Born This Way Ball” tour.  The cancellation was costly as she was forced to refund more than $25 million in ticket sales.  Some wonder if she terminated her excursion because of slow ticket sales.  Keep in mind, that that rumor swirls every time any artist cancels a large part of a tour.

On June 10, 2014, the Pope of Mope canceled the remainder of his 2014 tour of the United States.  Morrissey contracted a respiratory infection in Miami.  Morrissey and his camp accused opening act, singer Kristeen Young, of being a modern day Typhoid Mary.  Before the plug was pulled on the tour, Morrissey asked Young to take her box of Kleenex and go home. 

Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus scratched eight concerts in late-April of 2014 because she had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic.  The antibiotic was prescribed for a sinus infection.  Some people thought Miley canceled the concerts because of hard partying or a pregnancy.  Earlier in the month, on April 7, she nixed a show at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte just 30 minutes before she was to take the stage—Cyrus had the flu.  All of her canceled shows were re-scheduled.

Paul McCartney
A pesky virus caused Macca to cut a bunch of shows in Asia.  Things got so bad for Sir Paul that he was hospitalized in Tokyo.  He was supposed to bring his “Out There Tour” to the U.S. on June 14, but his sickness prevented that from happening.  No worries, Paul McCartney returned to performing on July 5 and the seven concerts he missed were moved to late October.

On April 22, 2013, Pink called off her show at the LG Arena in Birmingham, England.  The diva tweeted that she had an “ear and respiratory infection.”  She returned to the stage two days later to perform at The O2 Arena in London.

Selena Gomez
During the final month of 2013, Selena Gomez annulled the Australian-Asian leg of her “Stars Dance Tour.”  It was rumored that she was suffering from Lupus.  Then in February of 2014, it was revealed that the singer (21 years old at the time) checked herself into a rehab facility.  Her people confirmed the report saying she was voluntarily in the facility “but not for substance abuse.”

Taylor Swift
In 2011, Taylor Swift had to cancel a few shows of her “Speak Now Tour” because she contracted bronchitis.  It was the first time in her career that she had to do such a thing and it probably won’t be the last.

By David B.

25 Musicals And Their Source Materials

25 Musicals And Their Source Materials

Just about every musical is based on something even if that basis is remote and/or circuitous.  Musical theatre is not an art form that lends itself to pulling ideas out of thin air.  Below is a list of some of the most popular musicals of all-time and their source material.  As you’ll see, the stage has drawn a tremendous amount of inspiration from a variety of sources.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Is based on… Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2014, is based on the Roy Horniman novel, Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal.  In 1949, the Brits turned the book into a movie called Kind Hearts and Coronets.  For some reason, (almost certainly legal) theatre producers were unable to use that title.

Is based on… Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
It’s hard to believe that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is based on anything.  In fact, the musical has no book (which really caused problems during rehearsals—the cast didn’t know what to do).  Webber based his Tony Award winning musical on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot.  The lyrics to “Memory” were penned by Trevor Nunn and based on Eliot’s “Preludes” and “Rhapsody on a Windy Night.”

Guys and Dolls
Is based on… stories by Damon Runyon
If it wasn’t for Damon Runyon and his short stories, “Blood Pressure” and “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown,” middle schools all over America would be without material for their spring theatre production.  That’s because Runyon’s prose were the basis for Guys and Dolls.  The musical would have won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Drama but the book’s co-writer, Abe Burrows, was believed to be a communist. 

Kiss Me, Kate
Is based on… Taming of the Shrew
Kiss Me, Kate is the first production to win the Tony Award for Best Musical.  The show was composed by Cole Porter and was his response to Oklahoma!  KMK is not only based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, but the show’s plot revolves around a musical production of the Bard’s play.  It’s a show within a show sort of thing.

Legally Blonde
Is based on… a movie and novel of the same name
Legally Blonde is a thoroughly entertaining musical but it’s not the deepest work to ever walk the boards.  The feel-good musical is based on a novel by Amanda Brown.  Her tome also fueled a 2001 film.  Both are dubbed “Legally Blonde.”  Although she didn’t receive a degree, Brown study at law at Stanford and Legally Blonde is based on her experiences.

Miss Saigon
Is based on… Madame Butterfly
Miss Saigon is an updated version of Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.  Puccini based his opera, one of the world’s most performed, on a short story by John Luther Long.  In Madame Butterfly, the tragic romance is between an American lieutenant and a Japanese girl.  In Miss Saigon, the setting is the Vietnam War and the star-crossed lovers are an American G.I. and a Vietnamese girl.

My Fair Lady
Is based on… Pygmalion
Sometimes called “the perfect musical,” My Fair Lady is based on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion.  “Pygmalion” is also the name of a character from Greek mythological that fell in love with one of his sculptures—which explains why Shaw used it.  The play was first produced in 1912.  My Fair Lady first hit the boards in 1956.

Is based on… Green Grow the Lilacs
Oklahoma! is not only one of the greatest and most successful musicals ever created, it’s also one of the first to incorporate songs into a coherent and serious plot.  Hitherto, musicals contained a collection of tunes that had little to do with the plot—and creators usually went for laughs.  The play Green Grow the Lilacs ran on Broadway a little more than 60 times in 1931.  The Lynn Riggs’ work is largely forgotten while Oklahoma! is synonymous with musical theatre.

The Phantom of the Opera
Is based on… Le Fantôme de l’Opéra
The Phantom of the Opera is currently running on Broadway, London’s West End, Asia Pacific, Budapest, Hamburg, and Moscow.  There’s also a U.S. Tour of the Phantom of the Opera.  In 2015, look for Phantom of the Opera in Los Angeles and Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco.  While you’re waiting to hear the music of night, break out a little TPOTO trivia.  The longest running show in Broadway history is based on the novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux.  The novel was first published as a serial in 1909 and 1910.  The novel also inspired the famous 1925 film of the same name starring Lon Chaney.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Is based on… Spider-Man comics
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is the most expensive Broadway production in the history of the Great White Way.  The show also holds the record for the most previews.  Turn off the Dark is based on the comic book character Spider-Man which was created in 1962 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  The web slinger is one of the most popular comic book heroes of all-time.

South Pacific
Is based on… Tales of the South Pacific
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II used James A. Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific as the basis for their 1949 musical South Pacific.  They believed Michener’s 1947 novel would be the perfect vehicle to take on racism.  Both the musical and the novel won Pulitzer Prizes.

Is based on… La boheme
Rent is the second musical on our list based on an opera by Giacomo Puccini.  Puccini’s La boheme debuted in 1896.  Rent debuted on Broadway almost exactly a century later.  There are obviously a few differences between Rent and La boheme.  The most glaring is the specter of AIDS/HIV in the former.  La boheme is one of opera’s most performed works.  Rent won a Pulitzer Prize.

West Side Story
Is based on… Romeo and Juliet
Arguably the Sgt. Peppers’ of Broadway musicals, West Side Story and its dancing gangs were inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  Instead of the Montagues and Capulets, the musical gives us the Jets and the Sharks.  In the musical, only Tony (Romeo) dies.  In the play, both lovers depart this mortal coil.

Is based on… Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
If you said Wicked was based on the 1939 film the Wizard of Oz and/or L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz give yourself half credit.  Technically, the blockbuster musical is based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.  Of course, Maguire’s worked is based on the aforementioned movie and Baum’s novel.  By the way, Wicked the musical differs greatly from the Maguire’s manuscript.  The one thing that didn’t change was his idea of telling the story from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West.

The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical "Wonderful Wizard of Oz"
Is based on… The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Colloquial known as the “The Wiz,” the 1975 production won the Tony Award for Best Musical.  It was a retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz through the lens of African-American culture.  Theatre fans loved it.  The musical was turned into a film in 1978 that starred Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Richard Pryor.  Despite picking up four Academy Award nominations, movie fans hated it. 

Several musicals have been based on the films.  Below is ten of the most famous “silver screen to musical theatre” adaptations of all-time.  Interestingly, two of the following musicals were eventually turned into films thus giving us the whimsical genre of “a movie based on a musical that’s based on a movie. “

Beauty and the Beast… the 1991 film Beauty and the Beast
Billy Elliot the Musical… the 2000 film Billy Elliot
Hairspray… the 1988 film Hairspray*
The Lion King… the 1994 film The Lion King
Monty Python’s Spamalot… the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Newsies the Musical… the 1992 film Newsies
Once… the 2006 film Once
The Producers… the 1968 film The Producers*
Sunset Boulevard… the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard
Young Frankenstein… the 1974 film Young Frankenstein
*= turned into films

By David B.

Straight No Chaser Making A Cappella Cool

Straight No Chaser Making A Cappella Cool

My grandfather was in a barbershop quartet.  His a cappella group was called The Four Guardsmen.

They were pretty good.  They played some big rooms in Reno.  They all had great voices and harmonized quite well.  Their concerts were very entertaining.  Between songs, they talked to the crowd and told jokes. 

I only remember seeing them perform a few times but I liked what I heard and saw.  They probably could have gone professional but they were all family men with good jobs who didn’t want to spend 300 days a year on the road making a go of it.

They were also about a decade too late.  By the time they started performing, popular culture had been hijacked by teenagers and the dominate music genre was rock and roll—about the furthest thing from barbershop quartet.

My grandfather, who had a great voice, led a hardcore barbershop quartet.  They weren’t part barbershop and part doo wop.  They were full on barbershop and performed traditional barbershop songs like “Down by the Old Mill Stream,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” and “Wait ‘Til the Sun Shines, Nellie.”

Let’s be honest, barbershop quartet is not, nor has it ever been, the hippest genre of music.  It’s down there in the dustbin of nerd alongside polka, marching band music, and that genre from the 1920s where the singer used a megaphone.  Barbershop quartet is not even the coolest sub-genre of a cappella—that would be doo wop. 

That’s not to say my grandfather and his mates, or any other barbershop foursome for that matter, can’t or don’t make great music.  It’s just that the music they make is far from the vanguard.  Even my pop-pop would agree that barbershop, and a cappella music in general, is the opposite of hip hop and a general chick repellent (no offense to my grandmother). 

It’s not that a cappella is inherently lame.  The style has been used by popular musicians for generations and has produced some hit songs.  Artists that have dabbled in a cappella include Billy Joel, Huey Lewis and the News, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, and Brandy Norwood. 

Some pop stars have released vocal-only versions of their most popular songs/albums—sort of a backdoor a cappella.  The most famous example of this is Jay-Z’s Black Album.  Danger Mouse took the a cappella version of the Black Album and mixed it with The Beatles’ The White Album.  He called his final product The Grey Album.

What kept my grandfather’s barbershop quartet in anonymity, and what stunts most pure a cappella groups, isn’t a lack of instruments but material.  Music written for a cappella groups seldom light up the charts.

To get around that, all you have to do is one simple thing.  It’s the same thing the a cappella dectet Straight No Chaser does all the time and that’s perform hit pop songs.

It’s an unexplained phenomenon but people love it when artists from marginalized music styles, like a cappella, perform popular songs.  The geekier the musicians, the cooler the song, then the more people will love it.  I don’t know why or how but that’s just the way it is.

This explains why we love it when country musicians cover hip hop bands and "Weird Al" Yankovic does Polka versions of Top 40 hits.  You probably don’t even like polka music, and you might not even like the original songs Yankovic covers, but hearing the “Best Song Ever” and “Thrift Shop” played on an accordion is awesome.

The phenomenon also explains why people love it when Straight No Chaser performs songs like “Moves Like Jagger,” “Blurred Lines,” “Call Me Maybe,” and “Sexy and I Know It.”

This fall and winter, you can catch the thoroughly entertaining Straight No Chaser live and in concert.  Their “Happy Hour Tour 2014” kicks off Oct. 14 in Bakersfield, California.  It ends Jan. 3 in Honolulu at the Hawai’i Theatre.

Highlights of their outing include Straight No Chaser in Dallas on Oct. 26, Straight No Chaser in Atlanta on Nov. 14, and Straight No Chaser in New York City on Dec. 5.

Look for SNC to perform matinees in Denver, Hershey, Cleveland, Chicago, and Indianapolis.  Since the band formed at Indiana University, they’ll spend two days in Indianapolis, Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, performing at the Murat Theater at Old National Centre.

In the New Year, SNC ventures overseas for a series of shows in the United Kingdom.  Their European tour begins Jan. 28 in London and ends Feb. 24 in Zurich.  They will also visit Dublin, Berlin, and Paris.

Straight No Chaser Lineup
Michael Luginbill
Randy Stine
Dave Roberts
Charlie Mechling
Jerome Collins
Walter Chase
Don Nottingham
Seggie Isho
Tyler Trepp
Steve Morgan

In addition to the great harmonies and vocalizations, Straight No Chaser is super charming and they yuck it up on stage.  They’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you dance, and if you’re a mom, grandma, or aunt, they’ll make you swoon.   

There is another way an a cappella group, or artist performing a marginalized style of music, can win over fans and that’s performing Christmas music.

The so-called “cool” bands generally eschew holiday carols (because Christmas music isn’t cool) and to be quite frank they don’t really do the Yuletide tunes justice.  Dave Matthews Band and Justin Timberlake are great for most seasons but they don’t come to mind when one thinks of the Noel season.

Needless to say, Straight No Chaser performs Christmas music.  In fact, their first two albums were dedicated to Santa’s big day. 

They released Holiday Spirits in 2008 and Christmas Cheers in 2009.  The works contains secular and religious carols as well as “Indiana Christmas,” “Who Spiked The Eggnog?” “Donde Esta Santa Claus,” and a live version of "The 12 Days of Christmas."  Expect to hear some holiday harmonies during Straight No Chaser’s upcoming tour.

The ten-man band released their first non-Christmas album in 2010.  With A Twist contains instrument-less renditions of “Wonderwall,” “Single Ladies,” and “Fix You.”  Their latest opus, Under the Influence, dropped in May of 2013.

If my grandfather’s barbershop quarter had covered some popular music tunes then maybe this writer would now be enjoying the boons of a hefty trust fund.  As it is, my grandfather and his fellow crooners did their thing and entertained a lot of people.  That’s exactly what Straight No Chaser is doing today.

By David B.