The presidential inauguration is typically a pretty big gig as far as U.S. events go,arguably ranking just after the Super Bowl. Traditionally, artists aren't even paid to perform, as it's seen as an act of patriotism. But President-elect Donald Trump, who has been lacking in celebrity support for the duration of his campaign, has been having a lot of trouble finding musicians to perform at his inauguration festivities. (Presumably, Scott Baio yelling xenophobic things as performance art was tabled this time around.)
The inaugural activities are many: from the inauguration itself, to the inaugural concert, to the (usually multiple) inaugural balls, of which Trump will be having three, there's lots of opportunity for musicians to sing both the ceremonial patriotic songs and their own pop hits. Inauguration Day, historically, has actually been a pretty dope time for music: Obama had Aretha Franklin, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyonce between his two inaugurations, George W.'s concert featured Jessica Simpson, Ricky Martin, and 98 Degrees (how very 2001), Barbra Streisand sang for George H. W., Frank Sinatra came out for JFK. Heck, Bill Clinton got Fleetwood Mac, the members of which all sort of hate each other, to reunite for the first time in a decade to play his gala. Not to mention the intentionally evasive Bob Dylan showed up for Bill, too.
But Trump's luck has been tougher. Not that this should be surprising, given the heavy backlash against him over the last year by artists and activists. As befits the post-truth nation we're living in, there have been not only rumours about who's going to perform on Trump's big day, like Garth Brooks, who confirmed he will not be playing, but a lot of big ol' whoppers, too. A few weeks ago, after a Trump official affirmatively stated that Elton John would be playing the inauguration (to show the administration's "commitment to gay rights"...), the singer flatly denied that statement. Which should come as no surprise, really, considering he referred to Trump as a "barbarian" not too long ago. What an odd lie to tell.
As of now, the only confirmed performer is former America's Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho, a 16-year-old classical vocalist who Matt Miller of Esquire refers to as "a talented child who has no idea what's going on," which is a story she should stick with going forward. There's still a possibility, though nothing confirmed, that Kanye could perform, given his bizarre visit to Trump Tower yesterday. Andrea Bocelli has also been personally asked to perform. Kid Rock and Ted Nugent, who both just sort of objectively suck, are another two C-listers who have endorsed Trump and could still be on the table.
Yesterday, the situation got so desperate that The Wrap reported two anonymous talent bookers claiming to have been offered ambassadorships in exchange for securing A-list talent. Both reportedly declined. Apart from having deeply disturbing implications about what it takes to get political power in the United States, which is evidently a combination of money and pandering, it's also straight up embarrassing for a President-elect who can't find top American talent in his corner and is setting his sights on names like Katy Perry (who campaigned for Hillary Clinton) and Bruno Mars anyway. It seems like when it comes to pop stars, Trump has champagne tastes on a Trump Grill martini budget.