Philadelphia Has Officially Ruined the Fourth of July

If you’re looking for a place to celebrate the holiday with your family, look anywhere but the Wawa Welcome America concert finale on the Parkway.

Nicki Minaj, left, cursing her way through last year’s 4th of July Jam, and Miguel, the guy the city has chosen to entertain your family this year, as seen on his new album cover.

Nicki Minaj, left, cursing her way through last year’s 4th of July Jam, and Miguel, the guy the city has chosen to entertain your family this year, as seen on his new album cover.

On a too-humid day late in May, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, a Wawa bigwig, various other city officials and the media, including us, gathered in the African American Museum for an announcement about this year’s Wawa-sponsored Fourth of July concert on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Last year’s concert, you might remember, was a star-studded devoid-of-patriotism debacle of expletives and other onstage antics not exactly befitting what should be a family event, which is what the concert was in the past with the likes of Earth Wind & Fire, Patti LaBelle, Hall & Oates and John Legend. The 2014 show was lewd and crude, thanks in part to bona fide international celebrity Nicki Minaj, who—just to give one example—stood in front of the Art Museum and rapped the phrase, “If I had a dick, I would pull it out and piss on ’em.”

Happy #$!@% Fourth of July, Philadelphia!

Understandably, outrage ensued, and Mayor Nutter gave a non-apology amounting to Take your kids to the bathroom or for a hot dog during the naughty bits before he was forced to issue a real apology.

With that backdrop, we had high hopes that the birthplace of independence would this year announce the Best Show Ever! for the family holiday whose purpose is supposedly to celebrate that independence. But then came the lineup: the Roots (again, for the seventh year in a row), along with “special guests” Miguel and Jennifer Nettles.

To save you the Googling, Nettles is a member of the country group Sugarland, which hasn’t played together since 2012. The bubbly, banal blonde is most assuredly an uninspiring choice, but at least you won’t have to cover your kids’ eyes, or ears, as she sings songs you’ve never heard before.

Miguel, on the other hand, is no choirboy. His arsenal of brainless manufactured ditties makes for ideal accompaniment to those after-midnight Cinemax flicks. There are the outwardly explicit tunes, such as “Fuck Right Now” and “Coffee,” which talks quite openly about “fucking in the morning.” Then there’s the sleazy suggestiveness of songs like “Quickie” (“Call me your plumber/Knock on this wood/Get rocked by this thunder”) and “Arch & Point” (“Baby arch your back/and point your toes/ballerina smart but your sex like art, whoa”). Are you turned on yet? Want more? Look for his just-released album, Wildheart. The cover depicts the sex-symbol-in-his-own-mind naked, surrounded by naked women. We’ll just have to wonder what his right hand is doing.

Mayor Nutter invoked a classic politician’s defense when speaking at a news conference after the announcement, saying, “It’s probably virtually impossible to make everyone happy.” But is anybody happy with this particular lineup, other than, perhaps, diehard Nettles and Miguel fans, of whom we know none?

Listen, we’re not saying our Fourth of July concert needs to be the von Trapp family with special guests Barney and Laa-Laa the Teletubby, but the city needs to find a happy medium between mind-numbing insipidity and potty-mouthed misogyny (with maybe a dash of actual patriotism thrown in). Until it does, in case you need us, we’ll be down the Shore.