Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Why did 'Dancing With the Stars' fire longtime band leader and live band?

"Dancing With the Stars" live band.
"Dancing With the Stars" live band.

It’s hard to imagine Dancing With the Stars without its sweeping orchestra, but when the new season premieres in March, the talented 28-member band will be long gone.

“Our talented music director, Harold Wheeler, will not be joining us for season 18 of Dancing with the Stars,” ABC said in a statement.

“Since season one, Harold and his band have performed brilliant music in our ballroom for our dancers and the American viewers at home. We are grateful to him and his band for their amazing work and years of collaboration. We wish him the best of luck.”

In September, DWTS executive producer Conrad Green told The Hollywood Reporter that the show’s band sometimes has difficulty replicating modern music.

“We feel that there are some types of music and types of songs, a lot of modern music particularly, is so produced that it’s impossible for an 18-piece band to replicate that sound,” he said. “You get to a point where you’re forcing a band to try and do sound that they just literally can’t pull off.”

According to trade reports, DWTS producers will replace the band with sound recordings and a “small electric band” to “attract a younger demographic.”

There’s no doubt DWTS is one of the most popular shows on television, but it’s not popular among young viewers. The average age of the DWTS viewer is 62.1, which represents a sales problem for ABC.

“It’s not like ABC and Disney don’t have any money and can’t afford an orchestra. It’s about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of music, art, and those who create it. Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won’t boost ratings. It will kill the show,” Ray Hair, chief of American Federation of Musicians, said in a statement.

As a fan of DWTS myself (and I happen to be one of those sought-after “younger viewers”), I have to admit that there have been times when the band attempts to play a Top 40 hit and it comes off awkward, but the live band adds a touch of class and glamour that you can’t find on any other show.

What do you think? Take our poll and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Erin Hill
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