The Value of Britney Spears

I’m a little embarrassed to be spending more time on this, but my man Phil and I were recently harassing each other over our difference of opinion on the value of Britney Spears. Our email discussion went like this:

> Every time you say something or write about Britney

> Spears I cringe. I really do. My face gets all twisted

> and I just shake my head. I just don’t get it.

> Phil

I like her hits. And I like her. I think she’s sassy.

Jake

> Yeah, but that awful music. Seriously…

> Phil

I am convinced that in the future, people are going to look back at N Sync and the Backstreet Boys and all this Destiny’s Child crap like we look back at Leo Sayer and the Partridge Family and all the throwaway disco hits of the day. And Britney, depending how she deals with her career, might end up like ABBA or someone who’s a little more respected now. I don’t know. She a step above the Christina Aguelleras and the Mandy Moores (or whatever). “Baby One More Time” and “Oops! I Did It Again” are both really cool songs. I like them.

Most music freaks hated Madonna when she came out, but now who doesn’t love “Borderline”? Right? And that’s not even talking about her latest two albums which have both been great.

Give Britney some time. She’ll grow on you. (I don’t care for her ballads though.)

Jake

> Um, I think you’re right that it all depends on how

> Britney Spears handles her career. She could just as

> easily end up like Tiffany or Debbie Gibson. The

> difference with Madonna (who I can not even stand to

> hear speak anymore, but that’s another issue) is that

> she came from the club scene. She did have some

> credibility. She was not molded into her pop star

> persona. The clothes and attitude she had back then

> was very Rock and Roll, and entirely hers, even if her

> songs were pop. Britney Spears is manufactured. Does

> anyone really believe she’s a virgin? Does anyone

> care? Yet, that is key to her marketing. I like her

> boobies too, just like I like Christina Aguilara’s

> rear-end, but their music stinks. It’s just plain bad.

> Phil

The Monkees were manufactured and they rule. Being manufactured does not disqualify an artist from being good and you know it. You’ve put songs by the Partridge Family on mix tapes for me. And who doesn’t love the Banana Splits?

If you don’t like her music, you don’t like her music, and we can agree to disagree on that. I like it and I think some of her songs are really good.

But I hear a lot of people giving her crap not based on her music but on her image or whatever.

There are other bands I like that you don’t like that you don’t give me such a hard time about. What’s the big deal with Britney?

Jake

PS – I’ve started enjoying listening to Madonna’s accent du jour… Is she English? Is she European? Is she Spanish? I think she went to the Elizabeth Taylor school of pronunciation.

Phil responded to this, calling me a 14-year-old girl, and other funny stuff, but we lost that message. So you’ll never know what the big deal is with Britney. And so I get the last word. Until next time…

Jennifer Lopez Tops the Charts

Internationally-renowned “singer” and “actress” Jennifer Lopez recently topped the charts in both music and film, her chosen artforms. After knocking a little known English quartet called The Beatles from their perch at number one, Lopez was quoted as saying “I just want to make everyone dance and have a good time without all that other deep crap.”

This triumph of marketing over substance will undoubtedly find J.Lo’s faithful servants playing on glad tambourines and waving about palm fronds as their queen settles her prodigious ass on her gilded throne. But the rest of us are falling on our swords out on the battlefield, because shit man, there’s just less and less left to live for. The dumbing down of America starts in Dubya’s office and cuts a wide swath in those amber waves of grain.

I bet Puff’s real proud of his main bitch.

JTL

More Cosmic

Ah yes, the soft, warm flow of GP slipping into your brain and numbing your “bad thoughts.” I know that feeling. I listened to the double CD of GP and Grevious Angel for months on end when I first bought it. It would have been very interesting to see what Gram would have done had he lived longer. Can you imagine the late 70s GP? How “cosmic” would he have gone? What about the 80s? Would he have signed to Geffen records and then lost his mind exploring the muddy two track roads of American music like Neil did? Perhaps that’s what Neil was up to in those weird years. He was looking for cosmic american music with his daliances in traditional country (Old Ways), techno/electronic (Trans), Rockabilly (Shocking Pinks) and Blues (Neil Young and the Blue Notes). Fucking David Geffen was trying to kill Cosmic American Music! David Geffen is the enemy!

I listened to Sweetheart of the Rodeo on my way home from GR (after Brutus) and just smiled and sang real loud all the way. That’s how infectious that music is. It turned a band of over harmonized, hippy-dippies into a band of Louvin Brother, Acuff/Rose lovin’ long hairs hell bent on “taking back” Nashville. Wait until you hear the Blue Ribbon Brothers. It’s on again.

The Cosmic American Philosophy

I bought the Flying Burrito Brothers anthology yesterday. What I am going to say now may shock you, but I think that Gram Parsons is *at least* as amazing as Neil Young. Right now, I would rather listen to Gram than Neil. Right now, if I had to pick only one artist to listen to for the rest of my life, I would pick Gram. And I know this for sure: The Burrito Bros. are the best fucking American band of the post-Altamont era. They are the real deal in a way that CSNY could have only dreamed of. GP is no longer a sidestreet on my map of great rock music, he is a fucking freeway. If that guy would have lived a few more years, the world might be an entirely different place. If there is anything more powerful than the Cosmic American philosophy, I don’t know what is. (except maybe Jazz but let’s not go there)

Karl’s Korner

Anyone who loves Weezer should check out Karl’s Korner. Karl is the “fifth Weezer” and updates his site almost every night with tons of details about the process of recording and mixing the upcoming Weezer album. There are mp3s to download and weird little movies he compiles.

=w=

Britney. What are we going to do with you?

Sure, you wore sweat sock wrist bands at the Super Bowl, accessorizing wonderfully with football pants and —shocker!— a tight halter top. Your blonde mane undulated as you tough-talked your way across the stage, doing the tube sock boogie with Aerosmith and those jackasses in N*Sync. What can we say? You played your role and got the hell out. There isn’t much more we can ask of a teen pop sensation who happens to embody the sexual frustration of a nation’s males.

That’s what’s intrigued us about you from the beginning, girl. Your first record’s cover art featured you, doe-eyed and pig-tailed, gaping at the camera with sugar plums and fairies dancing in your baby blues. “My, what big eyes you have,” you said as you stared back at us, head cocked unsuredly to the side. How could we have known? Who could have predicted that you’d be anything more than a female Bobby Sherman, a new generation’s Tiffany?

Then came THE VIDEO.

The head was cocked at the same angle, and the pig-tails were there. But something had gone terribly wrong. Mascara? Pouting lips? Talk about blonde ambition. The girl on TV had done a Daisy Duke on her shirt, rolled up the tartan, and thrown her bra in the trash. She was a vision out of your average “Pentouse: Forum”, and Jenna Jameson was in the wings saying “you go, girl!” Wake up late, honey put on your clothes, and take the credit car to the liquor store. That’s what your doe-eyes were doing for us, now…

A lot has changed since 1998, and I don’t mean trading pig-tails for a blood red catsuit. Britney has emerged not simply as a sex fantasy wrapped up in sugary teen clothes, but as a revenue-creating brand for Jive Entertainment, and in a larger sense The Machine of the music industry. At an MTV-sponsored halftime show, why wouldn’t they tap their most recognizable and bankable brands, Britney and N*Sync, as major players? That’s good business. After all, it really is all about the benjamins.

Britney isn’t the next Tiffany, or the same as Richie Valens, The Ohio Express, or any other music industry product before her. Because the music she performs is an afterthought in a larger entertainment aura, I believe it’s no big thing to like that music. Listening to “Stronger” by Britney Spears (off of her latest opus, “…Oops, I Did It Again”) for me is sort of like reading Entertainment Weekly, or watching a re-run of “Wings.” I don’t seek out doing either, but when it’s there I might enjoy it for a minute, on a sort of entertainment-static level. The value-add of the Britney brand is that she’s in 3-D and isn’t named Steven Weber.

National Treasure

I was watching the E! True Hollywood Story about John Holmes. Now, THERE’S a national treasure. Uglier than the Nuge, skinnier than Johnny Winter, and—well, let’s just say that he gives a whole new meaning to the term “third leg”…

The Osmonds

Did anyone else catch the Osmonds’ special on ABC last night? It was so amazingly pandering I couldn’t believe it. Here’s a sample of the dialogue:

After being told of a death threat against the Donny-led Osmonds, an FBI agent informs the boys that they’ll be under observation.

OSMOND LACKIE: I guess you’re not famous until someone wants to kill you.

FBI AGENT: The Osmonds have become a national treasure.

National Treasure?!?!?! Haven’t these people HEARD Crazy Horse? Sure, one bad apple is a great song sung in true J5 fashion, but nigga please…

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

Hey all, let’s get ready to rumble. Jake and I are taking our email argument about Britney Spears online. Be ready to argue about rock and roll, country, hip hop, pop and straight up poop. Let’s get it on!

Phil