Friday, April 20, 2012
How Dick Clark Shaped Pop Culture
American Bandstand created a TV program that teenagers felt connected to that wasn't a sitcom. When I spoke with my mom about the show, she remembered running home from school with my aunt to watch the show. They knew who all the dancers were, and who they were dating. "If we didn't see them dancing together we knew that they broke up or were fighting." It's almost as if he also created the first reality show.
While American Bandstand helped propel singers and bands in stardom, he also is responsible for helping make New Year's celebrations what they are today. With Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, he brought the Times Square celebration in to peoples houses and made everyone feel as if they were celebrating together. He still kept the focus on music as he would have bands perform their latest hit while waiting for the ball to drop in New York. It has become such a part of life that there was an episode of Friends (The One With The Routine) where Ross and Monica shared how much they've always wanted to be on the show.
The New Year's performances that Dick would toss to during the broadcast are shot weeks in advance. For the "Party People" it's a long day of dancing, and getting sick of 'Auld Lang Syne' because the midnight countdown is down over and over and over and over. With each countdown there is the balloon and confetti drop, covering your hair so bad that it takes weeks to get rid of all the confetti from your hair.
How do I know this? In 2000, myself and Skiptink were "Party People" on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin Eve. We danced to performances by Boyz II Men, The Baha Men, Third Eye Blind, Vertical Horizon, Lonestar, The Bangles and 98 Degrees. Yup. In case you're wondering, yes...we did make it on to the platform.
The one thing the Friends episode doesn't mention is the incredibly creepy, former American Bandstand dancers from the 70's and 80's that are there. (We'll be talking about all of the craziness that happened that day on the next episode of the POPcast podcast.)
From a television show in Philadelphia, to making New Year's one of the biggest televised events every year, Dick Clark helped shape pop culture as we know it. Thank you Mr. Clark for introducing us to artists and allowing a couple of us a chance to celebrate NYE early.
What say you?
POPped with confetti