The hardest thing about making a list of possible future RodeoHouston performers is making sure to color inside the lines, which means the things that I want probably wouldn't work. Sure, the Black Keys on opening night and the Rolling Stones doing an-all country set to close out the season would be fun in my dreams, but they aren't feasible. Neither is Usher, who is too sexy for the rodeo.
The list of past rodeo performers is long and varied. Some of the oddest musical acts -- Paul Anka, C&C Music Factory, The Jets, 98 Degrees, Bow Wow, Exile and Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam -- all made perfect business sense at the time.
But what about artists who have never played that little ol' shed off Kirby? Plenty of acts probably refuse to play something tied to a rodeo, with their animal-rights views standing in stark contrast to, you know, kids being thrown onto sheep for our amusement and glee.
Or teens wrestling calves to the ground for scholarship cash: Things that we get in Houston, but might not be so cute and nostalgic to Madonna.
Superstar Carrie Underwood refuses to play events like rodeos due to her vegetarian lifestyle. She was voted "World's Sexiest Vegetarian" two years in a row, by the way.
10 Poison: When I brought this one up, many people said it couldn't, ever, never, would happen. Poison seems right up the alley of a lot of the Gen-Xers bringing their kids to the rodeo these days, plus Bret Michaels has female appeal, akin to that of Kid Rock. Teens have only seen them on YouTube, but they wouldn't pass up a chance to play dress-up for one night. Maybe a dual set with another hair-metal act from this period would make a Poison appearance work though. But who??
9. Norah Jones: Anyone who has seen Ms. Jones live lately knows that she isn't the tame piano-plinker she was in the early '00s. Now she is more apt to put on a guitar and wail for an hour with her backing band. She would do all of those fun singles, but we even admit that attendance may be low, though your mom and her friends would easily drink all the wine in the stadium.
8. Bruno Mars: Save for that spare Disney afternoon, this year's rodeo was devoid of mega-poppers like Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and their ilk. But then again, all of them are oddly growing up. Mars would be an easy fit for the pop crowd, a tad scruffier than John Legend, and less cringe-inducing than Train.
7. Nickelback: No? You don't think the rodeo set would stand for Nickelback playing their beloved event? Wrong. Nickelback is perfect for the rodeo, with the same fan base as much of the younger country acts and this year's Kid Rock. Their selection of songs would hit the sweet spots in the crowd, and we're probably assured a Billy Gibbons cameo somewhere.
6. Heart: Maybe another hard sell, but on a Sunday afternoon it could work. They play in Houston enough (Sunday and Monday), so that's strike one.
5. Ted NugentUncle Ted comes onstage to mass applause, with a freshly-skinned animal from the children's petting zoo under each arm. Nugent could be too aggressive for the rodeo, but he has the volume for it.
4. Eric Church: He's kind of unassuming, but this Grammy nominee would be a fun fit for a slower night like a Monday. His last album Chief was a slow-grower for me too.3. Pistol Annies:
Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley's supergroup could be called by the uninitiated a Dixie Chicks proxy, since those girls probably won't be back to the rodeo anytime soon. You do get Lambert on the bill, which is enough for most men in Houston.
2. Journey: Don't stop believing that one season you will be surrounded by thousands of drunk girls singing about South Detroit -- which doesn't actually exist.
1. Aerosmith: And people said that KISS would never work next to barrel-racing and buckin' broncs. Aerosmith would be an easy sell though, and a compact ten-song set would be guaranteed to contain only one or two new crap songs. The only thing that may hiccup this would be someone's animal-cruelty stances.
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Garth Brooks: Brooks has said once his kids are grown and in college that he will get back on the touring horse, so maybe in a few years we could see Brooks back on the revolving stage. He played the rodeo when it was still inside the Astrodome in 1991 and 1993. For now, we must go to Las Vegas and see the man's Wynn shows. Yes, I know that everyone thinks he sucks.