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Monday, September 28, 2015

"Up With People" Up With People (1965)

When I was a kid, I hated this record. Like smash this record to atoms, melt it into an unrecognizable blob, jump on it, toss it into a woodchipper, melt it back down into another blob, toss it into a lead barrel, seal it with concrete and launch it into deep space hate this record.

Up With People is a musical troupe that goes around the country (and even the world) trying to bridge cultural differences and create global understanding through public service. And musicals. They released several albums (all including this song) from the 1960s to the 1980s. Actress Glenn Close was a member in the '60s

Good intentions and wholesomeness aside, UWP became infamous for four years as being the selected Super Bowl halftime act from 1976 to 1986. They were lambasted as utterly the worst Super Bowl halftime act ever and, well, here. Take a look.

UWP's incredibly choreographed and cheerful singing and dancing acts were remarkable visually. No sleazy "wardrobe malfunctions", hard rock music, hip-hop or anything remotely disturbing to heartland American sensibilities. They were as threatening as milk and cookies. 

But in spite of it as time wore on, Up With People's brand of entertainment had become increasingly stale and dated. Halftime became the time you made a run to the 7-Eleven for more beer, chips and ranch dip. It wasn't until 1987 when they were permanently dropped from the halftime act roster and were replaced by hipper, edgier pop acts and commercials you just have to see.

They returned as the pre-game act in 1991, but that would be their last Super Bowl appearance.

While some people may look at Up With People as some pseudo-hippie musical act about peace, love and understanding, I look at them as just one big, if somewhat creepily happy glee club.

However, They've received corporate funding, including from Halliburton (cue Jaws theme), General Motors, Exxon, Searle Pharmaceuticals - major progressive no-nos. Leading to criticism that they are more closely linked to right wing politics than they let on. They've also received praise from John Wayne, Pat Boone and Presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush, not exactly the most liberal statesmen.

In 2009, a documentary was made on Up With People called Smile 'Til it Hurts: The Up With People Story.

Up With People are now in their 50th year. Not doing Super Bowl halftime shows, but still very much active.

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