Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009: Long Live The King of Pop (Or His Back Catalog, At Least)

The phrase that pays this year? Death sells.

Or at least it seems to cause massive amnesia.

At 4:00 p.m. E/T on June 25th Michael Jackson was just a creepy guy who looked neither black nor white and a person a good majority of Americans believed liked to sleep with little boys. A few hours later tons of celebrities who never mentioned the man before were offering up tributes (spoken or sung) in his memory. I felt fortunate that I missed much of that initial caterwauling because I spent that first post-Jacko weekend at a punk rock festival in Baltimore, where most bands were doggedly determine to pay tribute to the Ramones—over and over again. When I returned to Brooklyn I heard Jackson’s music pouring out of speakers everywhere I drove. It was as if all the truly weird shit we knew (or thought we knew) about the guy had disappeared.

Now I don’t mind being paying tribute to those who have left before their time. It’s just that the hypocrisy of this summer drove me crazy. Why was it okay only after Jackson was dead to listen to his music again? The music industry has been littered with scumbags, freaks, child molesters and assholes (and that’s just people at record companies—boo-yah!) for 50 years. That’s hasn’t stopped the public from playing their music before. (Gary Glitter repeatedly had sex with underage boys and his one hit is still played at sporting events everywhere. Chris Brown’s airplay only went down slightly after he beat the crap out of Rihanna.) If you liked Jackson’s music, why not be brave enough to play it in public before this summer? I’m not expecting an answer, but it’s just something that irked me about this year.

Speaking of things that irked me, I’d like to pose a few questions about 2009:

Is anyone 100% convinced that Lady Gaga is fully a woman? The first time I ever saw one of her, (um, its?) videos I did a triple take, as I was convinced it was a man’s face. And that’s before I ever heard that transsexual rumor floating around. I applaud her ability to almost pull off crazy costumes, and to be able to hide her penis in them.

Which generation is dumber—the one of 10 years ago that thought Britney Spears could sing and was the greatest talent ever, or the one of today that believes Taylor Swift can sing and…(hey, hey, get away from my keyboard) dfkhasdjklreh OMG Taylor is my BFF on MySpace and everything she sings, like, speaks to my soul! OMG!llkjkljklkjkljkljkljkljklh...sdf. (gimme that keyboard back! Let go! LET GO!)

(Ahem, pardon me, my computer got Kanye’d for a second by some 16 year-old tourist who wandered into the building. All is back to normal.)

Will Creed singer Scott Stapp sound like a douchebag even on his deathbed? (The odds in Vegas on this are even.) I mean, here’s what he said to me at 8 in the morning (which is the most unfair hour to do an interview) when I asked him about working again with guitarist Mark Tremonti: “I don't want to get all emotional or anything, but it just kind of brought a tear to my eye. Cause that was the purity of our relationship, going all the way back to being 14 to today. And no one and nothing can ever steal that away from he and I." (Trust me, hearing the audio makes it even more appalling. I think the only logical reason I didn’t jump over the console and stab him to death with my pen is it was 8:00 a.m. and I hadn’t had any chai yet.)

In the wake of Susan Boyle having the biggest debut of any album this year, will Simon Cowell start a Grand-American Idol? Will it feature Wilfred Brimley as judge? Or better yet, a contestant? (I’ve heard he does a mean version of “Rock Me Amadeus.”)

How did the Black Eyed Peas video for “Meet Me Halfway” end up in a commercial for DirecTV when it was still a current song? Aren’t those ads supposed to use old movies and digitally insert the actors pitching the product, not have that footage shot the same day as the video? Shouldn’t having back-to-back number-one singles (“Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling”) make the Peas enough royalties to keep paying the special effects team that works on Fergie’s face 24-7? The fact that she still appears human is a testament to their talent.

Do I still have enough of a mental connection with the New York State Thruway (which I drove on plenty in the early ‘90s, scoring the only speeding tickets of my life) that my disdain for the last three Weezer albums inspired a piece of road to cause Rivers Cuomo’s bus accident in an attempt to knock some songwriting sense into him? (Wait, that was probably too soon. Let’s plunder on.)

People were shocked when Adam Lambert (the guy that didn’t win American Idol this year) made out with a guy on the American Music Awards. I was shocked people still watch the American Music Awards. If you’re not getting paid to do so, why would you watch them? They’re the NBC of music awards shows. (Well, except that they’re on an actual network, ABC.)

One final question: if you were able to ban one song from the 2009 airwaves forever, wouldn’t it be 3Oh!3’s “Don’t Trust Me?” As a matter of fact, if you could kill one duo from 2009 and not have to go to jail, wouldn’t it be 3Oh!3?

So what exactly was good about 2009 (at least on a musical level)? Well, I think I’ll proclaim it The Year of Scott McCaughey. Mr. McCaughey is the coolest musician I’ve ever had the honor to get to know. And this year he breaks the record set in 2000 by The FiggsMike Gent for most entries in one year. Gent had six entries on all the lists (four albums, two concerts), while McCaughey has a direct hand in four of this year’s Top 20 albums, two reissues, two concerts and one entry on the 20 for 20 list. It’s a testament to the man’s passion for music, which burns just as strongly 25 years after the release of the very first Young Fresh Fellows album. He’ll never make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but he’s earned a spot in the Reynolds Rock Hall.

Hmmm. (rubs moustache)

Hmmm. (stares in space for a minute)

Maybe that’s an idea for the 25th annual list. Guess I better call Frank Gehry now to get cracking on a design. After the Nets owner ditched his plans for an arena in Brooklyn, I bet he could use some work. In any case, hope you enjoy the 20th time I’ve looked back in anger.

No comments: