11 June 2006

Blender magazine's "The 50 Worst Things Ever to Happen to Music"

From time to time, I will surf around for some useless bit of knowledge because (a) I like useless knowledge, (b) my head is hurting from work and/or home budgeting, (c) I can't get to sleep, (d) I really don't want to dwell on how extremely illogical the world at large has become, or (e) I want something to talk about with my friends that does not mention expensive gasoline, raising interest rates, their significant others or their children. (Yes, I am the Bridget Jones-like character of my immediate friendset on a daily basis...the only one who isn't married, with children, without a mortgage and not in a gay relationship at my age. Sometimes we have to strike back for our own sanity, folks.) So, some time ago, I happened across a happy, and occasionally sappy, magazine called Blender. It hails itself as "the ultimate guide for music and more", and while that is a bit grandiose to put it mildly, it can be entertaining. Especially so is its infamous "50 List": lists they create about the top or worst 50 things in music, videos, entertainment. Some of these lists are childish, some are just poorly conceived, some (like their "The 50 Most Awesomely Dead Rock Stars") was genius but poorly chosen and even worsely researched. But, God bless them and all of these faults, the folks at Blender keep churning them out without fail.

Of particular highlight this go around is their recent addition: "The 50 Worst Things Ever to Happen to Music". While some of these entries are obviously lame attempts to be witty (4 entries regarding Van Halen's lead singer merry-go-round?, nos. 32-35), some are dead on as well (Woodstock '99, number 23; The Age of 27, number 8). Some highlights and arguments for the others:

38. Sting
Apparently, these idiots have never heard of Sting's first major gig at stardom, in a little outfit called The Police. (I'll allow that the yoga-inspired new-age Sting is not for everyone's musical tastes, although I still like the music a great deal.) "Roxanne", "Message in a Bottle", and "Synchronicity II" are the stuff of musical legend and talent. Oh, wait...maybe they're just like me and giving credit for that band's drive to whom it belongs: the long-suffering, over-achieving and manic-drumming Thor-god Stewart Copeland.

10. “Colonel” Tom Parker
Meet the Slobodan Milosevic of artist management: Before Suge Knight, Lou Pearlman or even Allen Klein came the “Colonel” — inventor of ruinously exploitative rock management. Getting his hooks into Elvis in 1955, the Dutch con man artfully steered the King away from making music (which he had something of a knack for) and towards the likes of Clambake, Kissin’ Cousins, Kid Galahad and the 30-odd other Hollywood forgettables he made instead of recording or touring for most of the next decade.
Agreed, so agreed. I'm always curious as to what would have happened had The King been allowed to delve into the first musical path outside of rock n' roll that held his interest: opera. ("It's Now or Never" was directly influenced and literally 'sampled' "O Sole Mio".) Instead, poor Elvis was a man of his word and held the promise he made as a young man to the Colonel...to never fire him. One has to also wonder how much Elvis' paranoia and drug abuse can also be directly attributed to Parker. It's a damn shame professional wrestling wasn't around then, for that's a gig the Colonel was born to be a part of.

3. “The Star-spangled banner”
Here’s an idea: Let’s have the theme song for the world’s biggest and most diverse democracy be: 1) boring; 2) violently militaristic; and 3) next to impossible to sing. Not enough? OK, now let’s bring in Roseanne Barr to perform. She’s too busy? Get me William Hung!
Um, partially correct. (The kids that write this stuff...come across as having memories that only go back to like 1980, geez.) I'm not sure I have the heart to tell them there was this guy named Jimi Hemdrix (who they mention elsewhere on this same list, by the way) who did the version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Woodstock in 1969. Look it up and listen, kids...that's why some of us believe that's everything this country stands for...good and bad...and have done so now for decades. Jimi's rendition isn't disrespectful, it's instead just as real as this country's inhabitants...and arguably is the only known widely-known rendition that is so.

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