That’s right, Grand Haven’s beloved Technicolor spout of many colors just so happens to be celebrating its 50th birthday this year.
There’s little argument that our local fountain designed by Bill Booth II in 1962 can no longer cling to the moniker of “World’s Largest Musical Fountain,” as an ambitious entry in Dubai has laid claim to most of the records surrounding the synchronizing of water and music.
Loss of record-setting claims aside, there’s no denying that the Musical Fountain has entertained tourists and locals alike, but it’s equally difficult to argue that it continues to have its ever-hydrated fingers on the pulse of American popular music. After all, a casual perusing of the fountain’s monthly “setlist” belies little to which anyone born after the fall of the Berlin Wall or Enron’s book cooking can relate.
Taking into consideration that most youth don’t know the words to any musical that isn’t prefixed by “High School,” it’s probably not a stretch that “Overture” from "Cats" or “Luck be a Lady” from "Guys and Dolls" are probably going to fall on deaf, albeit tween ears.
The few tunes that attempt to cater to modern pop aficionados such as One Republic’s “Apologize” and K.T. Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See” have long vanished from the Billboard charts. And The Black Eyed Peas? They aren’t music. Period. Anyone in denial can call up their "Tron"-themed Super Bowl halftime show performance on Youtube if they require a refresher.
But it isn’t just the not-so-well-aged tunes that should have us concerned with the fountain’s ability to keep up with the times — it’s the schizophrenic nature with which they’re presented; on most nights there isn’t a consistent genre, artist or overarching theme running between the songs. This “grab-bag” mentality might appeal to the tourist, for whom the spectacle of it all will likely override any musical leanings, but us locals wouldn’t mind more of a concerted effort to move away from this tactic.
Perhaps an electronica, dubstep or indie music night is in order? There must be more than a handful of up-and-coming artists who wouldn’t mind having their songs blasted across the shores of the Grand River.
Of course, some of the more traditionally inclined members of our community might balk at some of the music suggested or reject it as “noise” in a manner eerily similar to how their Beatles LPs were in decades past. Yet we think that if the Musical Fountain is going to keep us up at night for the next 50 years, it needs to be refreshed.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.