In 2009, when the world marked Barack Obama's inauguration as the 44th president of the United States, a parade of top-tier entertainers made it their mission to celebrate the occasion. Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, John Legend, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Stevie Wonder were just some of the musicians who performed at the Lincoln Memorial and National Mall, while Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Forest Whitaker read historical passages.
When America welcomes Donald Trump as its POTUS on Jan. 20, the country will be treated to the artistic stylings of … well, um, the Talladega College Marching Tornadoes, which announced their participation Thursday (no relation to the film Talledega Nights, sadly). And there's Jackie Evancho! She finished second place in the fifth season of the reality-television show America's Got Talent. But you probably knew that already, right? Right. So, there's also the Radio City Rockettes! Or, at least the Rockettes who haven't already refused to perform. And don't forget pop sensations the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which is all-in … except for one member who's resigned in protest.
Okay, yes – the incoming administration is having some trouble attracting name-brand talent to its inauguration. And while Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn insists the event is "not about celebrities," it's likely that Trump, being some definition of a celebrity himself, is stewing over the lack of high-profile guests. Herewith, a last-minute guide for Team Trump, as it frantically seeks performers from all art forms that somebody (anybody) will recognize on Jan. 20.
Kanye West: The hip-hop star has made a career out of breaking barriers. He has more Top 40 hits than Michael Jackson. His Watch the Throne album with Jay-Z earned the most iTunes downloads for an album in its first week of release. It's likely he's deleted the most tweets out of all Twitter users. And he was the first "real" celebrity to visit Trump after his electoral victory, strolling into Trump Tower last month like it was no bigger a deal than a trip to TGI Friday's (which is where I have to assume West regularly dines out, given his simple sweater/black jeans ensemble that day). When asked what the two talked about, Trump told reporters, "Life. We discussed life," which sounds exactly like the perfect title track for West's new album. He could even debut it at the inauguration, serenading the nation with an auto-tuned ballad that will make sense to few but himself and The Donald (and possibly Taylor Swift). At the very least, it will be better than 808s & Heartbreak.
Mariah Carey: The acclaimed diva has already performed for such universally loved politicians as Angola's Jose Eduardo dos Santos (pay no mind to dos Santos's 30-year reign) and the family of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi. She should fit right in with the Trump crowd – and after her New Year's Eve debacle, any press is good press.
The Max Rebo Band: You may remember this troupe from their lively gigs in Jabba's Palace on Tatooine, but surely they'll be able to adjust their repertoire to include Earth's favourite pop songs. Plus: They're comfortable playing for wealthy kingpins with questionable taste in company and predilections for women dressed in gold.
The Resurrected Corpse of Richard Wagner: Something tells me Trump is a fan of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.
Jeff Dunham: America's favourite ventriloquist (or, I suppose, its only ventriloquist), Dunham has built a career on proving he's not related to Lena. Oh, and on his dummy characters such as "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" and "Sweet Daddy Dee," whose lovable catchphrase of "You a dumb ho" is recited by schoolchildren across the land. There would be no one more perfect to prove that Trump is not a puppet. Not a puppet AT ALL.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Fresh from taking over Trump's Celebrity Apprentice gig, the one-time California governor and eternal Predator-hunter would make a great addition to the inauguration. At the very least, the Republican could remind America that you can indeed be a celebrity-politician accused of sexual harassment and even the blue states will love you. A true inspiration.
James Woods: The Salvador actor could recite one of his beloved Twitter rants about freedom, America, American freedom and what it was like to work with Oliver Stone.
James Wood: Oops, looks like Team Trump accidentally invited the New Yorker books critic instead of the actor. But you know what, I bet that Wood might still join the party, if only because it would afford his magazine a great opportunity to make easy fun of anyone who doesn't live on the Upper West Side.
Guy Fieri: Trump may not be used to this chef's world of diners, drive-ins and dives, but the opportunity to savour Fieri's flaming-orange Cheetos cassoulet cannot be missed. Hop on that bus to Flavortown, America! Just be warned that Trump may make some of you sit in the back.
Ted Nugent: Don't worry, he won't sing, but he could carve up whatever his car hit on the way over to the National Mall.
Lionel Shriver: The author and one-time winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction could deliver a beautiful spoken-word piece that appropriates every culture you could imagine. All while wearing a sombrero (borrowed from Trump's personal collection, naturally).
Scott Baio: The erstwhile Chachi has gone to bat for Trump countless times over the past year, so it's only fair that the president-elect offer Baio the chance to share the stage once more, and unveil the dance piece he's been working his whole life toward: the Charleston in Charge. I do not regret this joke.