Smith County’s Band Performs Pink & Shakira

Updated: September 24, 2013

On August 23 I had the opportunity to hear the marching band of the Smith County High School Owls. Their show consisted of two arrangements. One was of Pink’s “Get the Party Started” and the other was Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie.” We’ll take a quick look at these two artists.

Pink, first called Alecia Beth Moore by her parents, was originally a member of the group “Choice.” Recently she recorded a gorgeous tune with Fun.’s Nate Reuss entitled “Just Give Me a Reason.” The two sing a lovely duet. According to trusty Wikipedia, her first number one hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 list was “So What,” a catchy I’m over you song. The song Smith County performed was “Get This Party Started.” Boiled down, it’s a self-centered, look-at-me-I’m-cooler-than-you dance tune. I mean Pink no disrespect—self-centered, look-at-me-I’m-cooler-than-you dance tunes are a sub-category of pop music all by themselves; and this one is certainly easier to listen to than many performed by other artists. Musically I suppose it makes a decent exercise for the band. It would at least be fun to play. The marching Owls second selection, however, was a better choice so far as music goes.

Columbia-born singer Shakira is a significant force in the pop music scene in both English and Spanish. Almost all her work (if not all of it) displays a heavy Latin influence. Her “break” came in the Latin scene with the album entitled Pies Descalzos, and fittingly, her first number on U.S. Latin pop charts was “Estoy Aqui”—I am here. She has released at least eight albums, if you count the ones that are Spanish versions of a previously released English album (or vice versa). I’m not aware of too many artists that record songs in two different languages. In 1997 she began the “Pies Descalzos” (bare feet) Foundation to raise money for poor and displaced children of Columbia. She won a Grammy in 2000 for Best Latin Pop Album – MTV Unplugged. In 2006, her song “Hips Don’t Lie” became the first song to reach number one on both the U.S. Top 40 and Latin Charts in the same week. This is the tune that the Owls played during the halftime show, and it begins with a lovely Latin-flavored melody on the trumpet.

Band directors have to walk a line between choosing literature that is “healthy”—containing good music—and literature that is “tasty”—appealing to the students. As popular as a song may be, it may not contain any musical material that provides opportunities for the students to learn something. Between these two tunes, I think the students are definitely getting more “nutrition” from the Shakira song. Its Latin flavor introduces them to music that is at least influenced by a different culture; and it is hard to get students to focus on and be interested in a different culture. Kudos to Shakira for opening our eyes a bit and making us realize there’s more to the world than the U.S. And kudos to the Smith County Band for its performance.