Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm Bringing Sexy, I Mean Lazy Back

I think it’s safe to say that this year was kind of odd on the musical and cultural front. When we’ve seen more pictures of Britney Spears’ vagina than Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’s baby, when a soundtrack to a Disney Channel musical outsells Janet Jackson and Beyonce combined, Billy Ray Cyrus’s daughter has a platinum album, “Weird Al” Yankovic scores the first Top 10 hit of career and Bob Dylan gets his first number-one album in 30 years, I tend to think we’ve traveled even further down the rabbit hole here. If I walked out of my office tonight and saw a midget in a tophat 10 sizes too big pouring cups of tea for tourists, I couldn’t be less surprised. (That’s because it would most likely be one of the little people working as elves at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show.)

Fortunately some things didn’t change in 2006: the Red Hot Chili Peppers continued their unmatched streak of “band who was cool 15 years ago that gets more annoying with each overplayed single;” Nickelback released that song “How You Remind Me” for the fifth time…but somehow each year they’ve changed the name (“Photograph,” “Saving Me,”); Tool made an album where each track is over 35 minutes long; and Limp Bizkit did something at some point to somebody. Yet without having a current rock station in New York, I never got the chance to let any of that upset me. I didn’t get the chance to switch off the radio in disgust, because there’s nothing left on New York radio to disgust me.

Instead I witnessed the most disturbing musical trend of the year through the multiple video channels I get through digital cable. The commercial explosion of emo-core-whiny-overwraught rock bands—now that made me throw my remote control more than a few times. Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, Hawthorne Heights, 30 Seconds to Mars, Thursday and My Chemical Romance all write songs that are in constant heavy rotation on Fuse and make me embarrassed to say I was a depressed geek at one point in my life. It’s all fine and well to sing about being bummed (many great albums have been created this way), but does everyone have to sing it in a high whiny off-key voice that makes me want to suggest a looser pair of boxers? Or in the case of My Chemical Romance, do they have to do a Queen tribute album that’s also a concept album about death—with a cameo from Liza Minnelli? As a friend said to me about the My Chemical Romance album, “Is everyone in the world taking a break from Dungeons and Dragons to listen to this record?” Furthermore, someone ought to punch the Panic! in the Disco kids in the nads for naming a song “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage.”

Heck, I can’t make sense of it all. I haven’t been this puzzled about the state of music since the heyday of Hootie and Alanis. Maybe that’s why the albums and singles on this year’s Top 20 are all over the place. We’ve got female singer-songwriters (KT Tunstall, Jenny Lewis), male singer-songwriters (Ben Kweller, Josh Rouse) grizzled rock veterans (Neil Young, Tom Petty), a dance rock band from Sweden (The Ark) and, simply put, hitmakers of the day (Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna). There’s no real thread that holds all these types of music together. The closest to a theme is the multitude of female artists on those lists (even a couple made the reissues list). The female contingent is the highest it’s ever been in the 17 years I’ve been doing this list. Maybe it’s a fact of me getting older, or getting in touch with my female side, or wanting to touch a female’s side and other parts, I just don’t know.

This pic has nothing to do with what I wrote on this page. I just wanted it in here because it cracks me up and makes me think highly of drunken driving.

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