Manchester Stages Defiant Vigil After Concert Attack: 'We Are the Many, They Are the Few'
How to Talk to Kids About the Ariana Grande Concert Attack
Manchester Arena, Le Bataclan & More: A Timeline of Concert Tragedies
Ariana Grande's Team: No Decision Yet About Suspending Tour After Manchester Arena Attack
Justin Bieber & Miley Cyrus Disco Demolition Was 'Poking Fun' At Pop Stars, Says Team Rep
"There's a lot of popularity for those two, but there are plenty of people who don't like their music," says the minor league team's general manager of Miley and the Biebs.
On Saturday night (July 23), nearly 6,000 people gathered to watch music from Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus get blown to smithereens. Minor league baseball team the Charleston RiverDogs hosted "Disco Demolition II: You Better Belieb It," a sequel to the Chicago White Sox's 1979 "Disco Demolition" in which a boom box full of Bieber and Cyrus music and memorabilia was destroyed in an on-field explosion following the RiverDogs' match against the Augusta GreenJackets, to a chorus of cheers.
"Disco Demolition II" was not an anti-pop demonstration, according to RiverDogs Executive VP/General Manager Dave Echols, but a way of lightly teasing two of the biggest artists in the genre today. "This wasn't a version of book-burning," he tells Billboard. "It was simply us poking fun at two popular performers right now."
In 1979, the White Sox hosted a "Disco Demolition" night in which a crate filled with disco records was demolished on the major league in between a doubleheader between the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. Conceived by White Sox owner Bill Veeck and his son, team promotions director Mike Veeck, the original "Disco Demolition" was a disaster -- the field was damaged by the explosion, fans rushed the playing grounds, and the second game of the doubleheader was forfeited by the White Sox.
Thirty-five years later, Mike Veeck is now president of the Charleston RiverDogs, and the idea for "Disco Demolition II" germinated as a way to look back on his infamous marketing ploy in an anniversary year. "We were trying to spoof a promotion that our president got fired over 35 years ago, and put a fun RiverDogs twist on it," says Echols. "We kicked around, 'What can we do? How can we spoof it?' We decided to have our own version of Disco Demolition, in which we weren't blowing up disco albums, but we tried to simulate that as best we could."
Conceived at the top of 2014, "Disco Demolition II" allowed fans who brought merchandise to the game to receive a $1 ticket. So why were Bieber and Cyrus the specific targets, and not a genre of music as a whole? "I think the easiest answer would be that they were front and center, and getting the most attention, when we were having our promotional brainstorming staff session," Echols explains.
Bieber and Cyrus obviously have a lot of fans, but so do Beyonce and Bruno Mars. The reason the former two were singled out for "Disco Demoliton II," clarifies Echols, is because they're the most polarizing popular artists making music today -- for every Belieber and Smiler, there is someone put off by Bieber's run-ins with the law and Cyrus' unabashed sexuality.
"There's a lot of popularity for those two, but there are plenty of people who don't like their music, and don't care for their personalities or how they're handling their fame or their performing," says Echols. "When you have that drastic of a reaction, both pro and con, and they're two of the most popular performers out there, it made it an easy choice for the staff to come up with."
That controversy turned into a promotional home run for the RiverDogs, whose "Disco Demolition II" resulted in a sold-out home game and national media attention, without the on-field riot that marked the original "Disco Demolition." The negative outcries of Bieber and Cyrus fans were a symptom of the ceremonial explosion, says Echols, but the RiverDogs have no regrets, and consider the stunt a huge success.
"When you're a minor league baseball team, you're trying for awareness, attention, to your brand, and to the unique aspects of what you're doing," he says. "We heard from both sides, if you check our social media. We had fans that didn't like what we were doing, and we had fans that couldn't wait to be there. The end result is that we're doing things and trying to have fun while there's a minor league baseball game going on."