The All-Resurrection Festival is a mythological music festival headlined by artists that have passed on from this world. I know, I know the obvious answer for a headliner is Jesus, but we are going to forego that answer for the sake of this exercise.
There are a few rules in choosing the five bands or musicians headlining. First, the artist or one of the more prominent members of the band must not be alive currently. Secondly, the assumption is that the bands or artists will be at their peak musical power performance-wise and they will have their extensive libraries to play on stage. Third, there will be one act per genre.
The genres are rock, pop, rap, country and an at-large bid. All artists must have been popular when music could be recorded, so Beethoven and Mozart will not be on this list. Now let’s get to the lineup.
Given the amount of time that has passed since rock ’n’ roll hit its peak in popularity and the lifestyle many rock artists led was less than healthy (they took all of the drugs), there are a lot of artists to choose from. Admittedly, this decision came to me very rapidly, and the headliner for rock will be Queen.
Almost all of Queen’s band members are still alive today, but the man that truly made them what they are, Freddie Mercury, is no longer with us.
Mercury is one of the greatest vocalists in modern history and one of the best showmen on stage in the 20th century. Mercury was taken much too soon because of the HIV virus, and those worldwide would scramble to buy tickets to watch this icon perform “Bohemian Rhapsody” one last time.
I don’t like country music all that much. I grew up in a rural Midwest town, so I have heard it all my life, but I have never had a real attachment. That may sound like it makes me unqualified to make this selection, but I believe most people would agree with my choice: Johnny Cash.
Johnny Cash makes music so universally praised that even people that hate country will say something like “I hate country music, well, except Johnny Cash. He’s pretty good.” Cash cleaned up for awards in his genre capturing 13 Grammy wins and 35 nominations at the lauded awards show. Johnny Cash was another artist that attempted to do all the drugs early in his career and it took years off his life. His record, however, speaks for itself with his numerous classics like “Ring of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and he covered a Nine Inch Nails song, “Hurt,” that was so iconic it made Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor cry when he heard it.
There are a few blue-bloods who many will be expecting to get the nod at the pop slot. Michael Jackson immediately comes to mind, but given his, let’s say, checkered past, I don’t really want to pick him. Prince is also an easy choice for this genre, but I went in a different direction. I have chosen the most famous pop star to ever fall in love with Kevin Costner (I think). Whitney Houston is the pop headliner.
Houston is quite possibly the greatest singer of the modern era. Houston’s vocals are so good they often move people to tears as they did when Houston sang the best rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” before Super Bowl XXV. Houston passed away from coronary artery disease most likely brought on by years of drug abuse in 2011. Houston is still widely regarded as one of the greatest pop stars to ever grace a microphone and with songs like “Higher Love” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” it’s hard to argue. Houston would most assuredly bring the house down with her powerful vocals.
Rap might be the most dangerous musical genre to be a part of, with a laundry list of rappers gone way too soon from drug overdoses and homicides. Recent industry staples to pass on include Juice WRLD, XXXTENTACION and Nipsey Hussle. To find our rap headliner, I decided to dive further into the past. The decision was between the three greats: Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur and Eazy E. I decided to go with the big man from the Big Apple and select the Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie Smalls had a smooth as silk flow with catchy hooks and was produced by P. Diddy. Biggie was one of rap’s greatest wordsmiths and current rappers are still attempting to come close to his wordplay.
A homicide robbed the world of more Notorious B.I.G., but his songs are still heavily played to this day with Biggie Smalls averaging close to 11 million monthly listeners on Spotify over 23 years after his death. It’s safe to say that Biggie not only changed rap culture but popular culture as a whole (“mo’ money mo’ problems,” is often quoted ironically by broke individuals like myself), and thousands upon thousands would line up to hear Notorious B.I.G. hypnotize them with his lyricism one last time.
The ambiguity of the at-large bid leads to a lot of possible choices, but I created this whole category so I could put in one band, Nirvana. Frontman Kurt Cobain is perhaps one of the most famous members of the 27 club (famous people that died at age 27), and while I couldn’t justify choosing his band over Queen, they were a shoo-in for the at-large bid.
Nirvana hit the music scene hard and fast with one of the most recognizable albums in music history in “Nevermind.” Nirvana signaled the transition of rock from ’80s hair bands to grunge, and they were as popular as any band has ever been. Nirvana only had a 3-year peak run because of the suicide of Kurt Cobain.
Nirvana may not have had a long run, but they cranked out classics in a short amount of time with endlessly replayable tracks like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come As You Are.” Nirvana will continue to be a mainstay in music culture for years to come.
The world has lost many music titans much too soon. Luckily, with modern technology, we can still listen to them as though they are with us and dream that we would hear them live again one day.