[Updated link, 9/1/2017. -ed.]
“I’m completely shocked about everything. Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie were fantastic. Lindsay Lohan is a gay tw*t! I hate her, she is a complete bit*h! Lets all throw stones at her. Everyone in favour shout/type I! Thanks for your support. I’m in love with Britney Spears – where was she?! Chad-Micheal-murray *-*DROOLS* Byeeeeeee! c u all soon!! chickinssss xxx :) <3”
Well Mandy, Britney couldn’t make the 2005 Teen Choice Awards, either. Her ’04 absence went unexplained – maybe she was out of Salem Lights, and just couldn’t deal – but this year we know it’s because she got Federlined a few chaotic months back, and is busy knitting up baby do-rags and cute miniaturized versions of her husband’s trademark oversized denim shorts. Hopefully we’ll see Brit, Bit Bit, K-Fed and baby on a future episode of “MTV Cribs.” Lindsay was also a no-show in 2005. Damn, did you really organize that stoning party you were in “favour” of? Brilliant! Well, even if you didn’t, it hasn’t been the best year for Lindsay. Her December ’04 album was a sickening breach of humanity’s social contract; she ventured fully loaded into “Wild On Tara” land; and Disney thought it better to digitally reduce her. I don’t know if that makes her more of a tw*t or less (in Disney’s view, certainly the latter), but regardless, a flaxen-haired preschooler with the platinum syllabic handle of Hayden Panettiere was happy to take her place at this year’s event. As for Nicole Ritchie, she was in attendance, too. But she was standing sideways the whole time, so no one saw her.
The 47th Grammy Awards emphasized performers over presenters. Music, of course, more effectively justifies a three hour-plus runtime than the common award show litany of envelopes and air kisses. And set pieces of spouting fire and arcing candlepower are nothing new to the annual event, which suffered as usual from certain inevitables like sluggish pacing, stale banter, cartoonish staging, and John Norris. But this year’s show nevertheless emphasized the dedication to craft that singing or playing an instrument on a professional level requires. Notably absent: Ashlee Simpson, Ryan Cabrera, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, or the glut of heaving alt.metal dweebs that have replaced Limp Bizkit – in other words, celebrity tinfoil biters that derive buzz/revenue from top of mind spark and little else. These types are feted and fawned over at baseless MTV extravaganzas, but they’re absent when it’s time to bring anything worthwhile past the red carpet. They also too often represent US music and pop culture, when the real currents of taste run equally through brash punk redux, songs about the southland, and – most powerfully this year – through the wire.
Apparently New York City isn’t big enough for both MTV and the RNC. Ceding Manhattan to the invading army of potato-headed donkey punchers, the network moved its annual Video Music Awards promotional event to Miami’s American Airlines Arena. The move made sense logistically, even if the Page Six stories of hotel bar meetings between, say, Petey Pablo and Senator Sam Brownback would’ve been hilarious. But it was also a reminder of how far south the popular music axis has shifted. Crunk dominated this year’s VMAs from the window to the wall, Outkast continued to clean up (deservedly) for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and rock music was viewed only as a nuisance, represented by performances from a few tepid middlers, but best consumed in condensed form. See KRAVITZ, Lenny.
Meet Sharin Foo, the new CEO of KMart. Raiding her past brilliantly, the erstwhile Raveonettes bassist tapped the band’s “That Great Love Sound” to appropriately fizz up the embattled retailer’s rep with the kids, the muthafuckin’ kids. The resulting ad campaign depicts the dimpl’d and dishy stars of the WB’s “7th Heaven” and “Reba” smiling from behind their mom jeans and oxfords. Foo’s licensing coup proves that, if Yankee youths love anything more than belly shirts and Adam Sandler, it’s traditionalist Dutch rockers with a hard-on for the Ronnettes and the Jesus & Mary Chain. Sharin Foo – a girl for all seasons!
It was nice of CBS to hire the sound crew from Santa Monica High School’s winter production of “L’il Abner” for its live broadcast of the 46th annual Grammy Awards. It was music’s biggest night – or whatever – but pops, clicks, buzzes and feedback plagued both performer and presenter alike, causing even the coldest hearted French-Canadian dragon lady a few moments of very real frustrated bluster. The vocational school audio enthusiasts out in the sound truck unwittingly helped bust up the veneer that usually separates us from things like the fancy shmancy Staples Center Grammys.
The event was live – or at least live after a five-minute signal reroute meant to give CBS’ newly-installed naked boob-lancing SDI war machines time to power up and scorch the sky, the better to prevent the tainting of innocent cherubs. But this live-ish broadcast was fraught with clunky pacing issues and awkward teenage camera cue blues, making us wonder just how far forty years of televised music and media have really brought the medium.
This year’s Grammys became an unraveling ball of elaborate performance setpieces, distended award receptions, and unfinished strings of confused reaction shots and glittering, empty platforms – shards of a shattering mirrorball of an industry that no longer has the upper hand of cushioned celebrity detachment with which to burnish its often marginal product. Thanks, SMHS sound geeks. Your ineptitude demystified the illusion once and for all, unmasked Mr. Johnson. He might’ve gotten away with it, were it not for you pesky kids.
History and Revisionist Reality at the 2003 VMAs
What’s that flinty taste in our mouth? Why, it’s the unforgiving barrel of the Mossberg 12 gauge jammed between our teeth. The shooter’s face is distorted – garish, hyper-real images flicker unabated eighteen inches away, just above the chamber. Bursts of red, washed-out orange, and otherworldly, shimmering gray reflect in blue steel; frames fly by faster and faster, each one unique, yet oddly, opaquely the same. Is this our life flashing before our eyes? Can’t be. We were never voted off anything. What was that shot? A rose on a tray, women wiping tears from their hardened eyes? That never happened to us. What’s P. Diddy saying? Wait, we don’t even KNOW P. Diddy! Then the images falter, fade to black. And we see it. A thin fiber optic cable leads from the Mossberg’s double action trigger to a frosted glass office door marked ‘Reality Television – New Season.’ The wire terminates in the keyhole of a silver knob. And that knob is turning.
It was really only a matter of time. In a music-hungry ad landscape that licenses Smashmouth’s “You Are My Number One” the very WEEK the band’s latest effort is released, wasn’t it inevitable that Digable Planets’ finger-popping 1993 single “Cool Like That” would find new life as the pitch music for laser-guided toothpicks, biggie-size Swifters, or some other must-have retail item? As it turns out, Target Corporation was the big winner, grabbing the track for a shimmering, colorful spot that seems to be about well-fitting shirts. The ad was a big part of the commercial breaks during this year’s Teen Choice Awards. But you might have to scratch the ‘breaks’ from that last sentence, since the TCAs have stopped pussy-footing around with jamming its outsized product placements and promotional plugs into the conventional framework of an awards show, choosing instead to cook everything—commercials, cross-branding, and Ashton Kutcher—inside the same silvertone coke spoon. But, you know, it has rubberized handles, so it’s safe for kids.
Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium is a 6,000+ capacity facility, but you wouldn’t know it from watching the 2003 MTV Movie Awards, held May 31st but only aired by the network last night. The event took place in a vacuum, seeming only to exist inside a right triangle stretching from the top of its elaborate superhero stage, to the back of a 6-deep bay of tables, and across the inevitable commoners’ moat back to stage front. Inside this triangle was the cream of young Hollywood, co-mingling with some music types looking to cross over – Puffy, Pink, and Queen Latifah, who already made the leap. As each “winner” made the short walk from his/her dinner table, through the clawing, outstretched hands of the disease-ridden peasants, and onto the chintzy stage, it seemed as if no one else was in the room besides Stifler, Justin, Kirsten Dunst, and aforementioned Mr. Diddy-bop. A talent show for all the neighborhood kids, thrown by the family with the biggest garage. The bling in this burg might’ve been a bit brighter, but the winners were still walking away with a meaningless piece of plastic. As it turned out, that wasn’t the only cheap thrill of the evening.
Eminem won the best-song Oscar for “Lose Yourself,” the dramatic anthem from his film 8 Mile. It was the only nominated song not to be performed during the ceremony, but Em’s decision to skip the show saved the Oscar people, since they were shitting their pants over “Lose Yourself”‘s liberal use of profanity. Indeed, the track was a different animal than its fellow nominees. Rounding out the category was the more-boring-than-Paul Simon-himself ballad “Father and Daughter,” (Wild Thornberrys); U2’s “Hands That Built America” (Gangs of New York); “Burn It Blue” (Frida); and “I Move On” (Chicago).
Barbra Streisand was charged with presenting the award. With the room on an emotional high (horse) from Adrien Brody’s ass-kicking of Caine, Cage, and Nicholson in the Best Actor category, Streisand spoke graciously of the awe-inspiring breadth of art, and how proud everyone should be for the opportunity to make it. She spoke of music, and its true power to speak as one artist’s voice while inspiring or angering, helping or saddening millions of others.
She then bugged out her eyes and made an exasperated face when Eminem won for “Lose Yourself.” Wow, nice sincerity, Babs. Why don’t you go home and put James Brolin’s old balls back on your chin?