Tuesday brought news that many fans of the NCAA tournament found upsetting: the networks that televise it have reportedly decided to have a new artist record a version of “One Shining Moment.” You know, the awesomely schmaltzy song, traditionally performed by Luther Vandross, that plays over highlights of the tourney after the champion is crowned.
Vandross’s version has been used, with one exception, since 2003. That exception came in 2010, when CBS aired a rendition recorded by Hudson, but it was so poorly received that Vandross was quickly reinstated. That raises the question of why CBS is again trying to needlessly stir up this hornets’ nest, but for the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume that what’s done is done — and go ahead with our picks for Vandross’s replacement.
As with the NCAA tournament, we have four “regions,” representing four broad genres: Country, Classics, Pop and R&B. Within those regions are four artists, seeded one through four, all the better for you to decide if chalk should prevail or if upsets are the order of the day.
1. Blake Shelton: Lots to like here — huge music star, plus crossover appeal from being a mainstay on “The Voice” and dating Gwen Stefani. But would NBC let him do it?
2. Carrie Underwood: The reigning queen of country, she already has experience with televised sports-oriented tunes, having performed the most recent version of the “Sunday Night Football” theme song.
3. Zac Brown Band: Plenty of crossover appeal in their own right, in musical terms, and the group is nearly big enough to stage its own five-on-five basketball game.
4. Miranda Lambert: A slew of artists were vying for this spot, but the selection committee loves to set up intriguing matchups, so who better to pit against Shelton in the first round but his ex?
1. U2: Bono and Co. might feel this assignment is beneath them, but after showing up — uninvited — in everyone’s iTunes library, they owe us one.
2. Bon Jovi: Already a staple at basketball games and other contests with “Livin’ on a Prayer,” plus Mr. Bon Jovi himself is such a big sports fan, he even once owned an arena-league football team.
3. Aerosmith: Arguably the most successful American rock band ever, their later work indicates that no song is too cheesy for them to perform.
4. Bob Dylan: If only because it would be fun to a) hear the song done in his voice and b) see if Baby Boomers would love it or be outraged.
1. Taylor Swift: Winning an NCAA title — the ultimate Squad Goal!
2. Lady Gaga: Some were skeptical when she was announced as the Super Bowl national anthem singer, but she won them over with an impressive set of pipes.
3. Justin Bieber: The only issue might be Bieber’s insistence on the montage including a clip of him actually hitting a jump shot.
4. Ariana Grande: Let’s face it, none of the pop stars above are likely to do this, whereas Grande probably would. Plus, she starred in a TV show called “Victorious,” which should count for something.
1. John Legend: The No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. If Vandross must be replaced, who would be opposed to this guy?
2. Bruno Mars: If he’s good enough for two of the past three Super Bowl halftime shows, he’s more than qualified here.
3. The Weeknd: The closest thing Millennials have to Michael Jackson, plus he might get his buddy Drake involved!
4. Janelle Monae: Even if the suits at CBS and TBS approved this relatively edgy artist, you have to think she’d get nixed by Jim Nantz.
So who should do the new version of “One Shining Moment”? Check out our 16-artist bracket, and place your votes! (Note: Voting for the first round closes on Wednesday at 11:55 p.m.; second-round voting takes place on Thursday; third-round voting takes place on Friday; and final-round voting takes place on Saturday and will close at 6:05 p.m., just before the national semifinals begin.)