Starting today, and each subsequent Sunday to follow, yours truly will be breaking down the week in popular music. Although my opinions will seldom be popular, or even remarkably timely for that matter, they will always be . . . well, my opinions. And yes, opinions are a lot like assholes in that everyone has one and that everyone except the shiter himself tends to think they stink. Regardless I’ve heard it said that the Truth is always changing but the Facts of the events forever remain the same. With that being noted let’s get balls deep into some popular fucking music!
Right-y-o. Here goes. This week in music! Ah, let’s see now . . . not quite sure what happened in music this week on the national level or the international level. Billboard Top 200 in the United States probably had somebody listed as the #1 selling artist in popular music today. However, I’m not sure who that individual is or was or will be. I’m just sprouting with informative musical happenings and finger snapping rhythmic wisdom's. Bet I know you’re glad you’re still reading. Or at least you will be glad of it soon, I think. Let me take a brief moment to research.
(pausing for Google support)
The #1 slot for this week in music according to the Billboard Top 200 goes to a band, or perhaps an artist, whom I can’t easily pronounce their name, let alone spell, so I’m copying and pasting it here: Avicii.
I’m not sure who or what that is but according to the powers that be in the land of musical OZ their song Wake Me Up! is #1 with a bullet. I’m sure it’s a thrilling and an awe inspiring tune, but I’m not even going to go try and make heads or tails of it. My brain has a difficult time just looking at Avicii in bold print. I can only imagine what their music will do to the rest of me.
Further on down the list is Billy Ray’s baby girl Miley crawling up the charts to #3 with Wrecking Ball. Her hairstyle looking more and more like Wendy O. Williams as each week passes. For me that is enough to make it interesting. Not much is required to elevate someone up in my minds eye status of rock “n’ roll icon and you, Miley Cyrus, are not raising the bar by much. But, for giving me your best effort and more when it comes to righteous hair-do's I, in the grand tradition of AC/DC, salute you! The best of us know that we’re not selling “music” but “identity.” After all Billy Idol had the “hair that made the people stop and stare.” And he sold millions just on that alone. And he didn't even have to swing half naked from a large piece of construction equipment.
The rest of the “female rock royalty flavor of the week tabloid darlings” were all shouting their names at roll call. Katy P., Lady G., Selena Gobstopper or Gomez Disneyland, not sure etc. etc. The Billboard 200 Top 10 also included some cookie cutter Urban Outfitter hippie hipster looking types, Imagine Dragon. One dude has a Tony Hawk wedge with a unabomber beard and skinny jeans that don’t look comfortable on him. I sort of like it but then again I’m not sure so I went to You Tube to watch the video for their smash hit “Radioactive.” When I first hit play I instantly started clicking the right hand bottom corner of the video to try and “skip the ad” and became exceedingly frustrated when I couldn’t skip right to the video. I kept pounding away at the computer mouse because I don’t have a lot of time or patience for much of what’s happening in modern music and the damn thing would not go to the video! A good 45 seconds in, pointer finger bruised and bloody, I suddenly realized that the video was actually playing and I had been watching it the whole time. Well fuck me spinning! I thought I was watching an Audi commercial but it was Imagine Dragon’s video for their smash hit tune Radioactive. And this is why you have me in your corner music fans and lovers! To jump right in with both balls hanging and take the hit’s . . . the live gunfire rounds . . . risk life and limb so you don’t have to fall victim to what’s happening on You Tube with music videos for bands like Imagine Dragons. I possibly just saved you from having to by a new mouse or, better yet, a brand new desktop computer because you were so frustrated with watching Imagine Dragons "radioactive" vid that you chucked that son-bitch out the window. You’re welcome, again.
What else? Let’s see. I was supposed to go catch Jello Biafra performing at the Hood Bar & Pizza in Palm Desert, California with my buddy Shawn Smash, guitar player from the legendary punk rock outfit Total Chaos but we had the days wrong. Thought the gig was Saturday night but it was really happening the night before on Friday.
Again, in case you were wondering, I’m Shawn Mafia . . . singer-songwriter-entertainer expatriate from the planet Bad-ass come to live among the desert hippies and sidewinders in the humble village of Joshua Tree, California. The cat that’s writing this installment of This Week in Music that doesn't seem to know shit about what’s going on in music locally or abroad, when it's going on, why, etc. etc. but loves to write half-assed blogs about it, regardless (end author disclaimer - station ID pause). Now, back to the story:
Smash texted me Saturday morning asking if I was going to see Jello tonight. I was driving down to the OC at the time and looking at Facebook on my smart phone that was wedged precariously between my thighs resting on my well, groin area, while I was hitting a bit over 80 mph in the slow lane weaving in and out of traffic. I’m seeing a pic on FB of JVR from Gram Rabbit with Jello, who is sporting a cowboy hat, both of em' mean mugging for the camera in the Hood’s green room and I’m thinking, “fuck! we missed it” at the same moment Smash is texting me back repeatedly “fuck! I think we missed it” and low and behold we had. I heard Jello crowd surfed all the way to the bar, ordered a mixed drink and crowd surfed back. A feat reserved only for Kriss Angel or real bona-fide punk rock icons.
I was talking to my girlfriend in the car the other day about when I had got back from a couch surfing tour of Houston, Texas. It was 1995 and I was in San Francisco walking up and down Haight-Ashbury. Record stores all over the city we’re splashed with signs and advertisements of Rancid’s brand new album at the time “. . . And Out Come the Wolves.” My hair was blue as a Smurf naked in the woods. I don’t know why that is relevant but I thought I would just throw it in there. Back then music existed out in the streets. It was visible. It was part of our day to day reality. Sold, traded and played out where all could see. It just seemed so epic when a band released a new album. The whole build up. It seemed to mean something. At least to me. Now record stores hardly exist and everything lives in the cyber fantasy land of the Internet. Videos debut on You Tube. Singles sell on iTunes. Goddamn, I remember when the busiest store in the mall was the record store. Now the only place you can buy a brand new compact disc is a shop like Hot Topic where they’re sold as novelty items. No wonder I don’t know what the fuck is going on this week in music. I drive through the towns and cities of Southern California and music doesn’t exist anywhere out in the open. Albeit the occasional billboard for the latest "has been"act out doing the Indian Casino tour.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I am all about change. The sounds get old so we have to move on with the times. The record label model stops generating revenue so we have to re-invent it. The kids need new fads and trends so we give them new faces to live vicariously through. New stars that can show them what tennis shoe they should be wearing at the end of the tunnel. That’s all fine and dandy. But somewhere, some how, a crucial element was lost. The “epicness” of rock and pop music. The larger then life moments. The build up to that moment . . . I no longer feel it. I can no longer access it. At least not without a password or a login name.
Do you remember when we used to build to world premieres of music videos on MTV? Do you even remember when MTV just played videos? Music can change all it wants and sound however it is going to sound down the road in the future. Robot click tracks with young girls farting in microphones. Great! Super! Fuck yeah. I’m in. As along as there is a good solid story behind it. Some real character and characters. But stop the presses ladies and germs if you think for one moment that the “epicness” is going to be sucked out of modern music and I’m going to be alright with that. In 1987, when I first saw the debut for U2’s video “Where the Streets Have No Name”, I thought Godzilla rose from the Pacific ocean and started stomping all over Los Angeles. The police sirens, helicopters and people storming the streets as fools hung from stop lights rubber-necking for a view of Bono and Edge performing a top of a liquor store at 7th and Main Street in downtown Los Angeles was like watching the opening sequence of a blockbuster action film. Lethal Weapon blaring through the cranked amplifiers. It was mother-fuckin’ fight night and the world was coming to an epic crescendo. Camera crews shouting, “they’re shutting it down” as the band tried to play on. LAPD storming the scene. Thousands of fans rushing the streets. Stopping traffic. Ordinary day to day existence grinding to a halt. It was that very instance of “epicness” that I speak of here. The 20th century is chalked full of such legendary rock moments that seemed just as, if not more, important then the politics of the day, wars and social upheavals. “Where were you moments” that defined who the fuck we were as people! As goddamn music fans. The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, John Lydon squaring off with Tom Snyder and Nirvana’s bassist knocked silly with his own bass on MTV music awards. This is what I’m talking about! Where oh where have my epic rock and pop moments gone?! Perhaps lost somewhere in the void between the torqued legs of Miley Cyrus. Alas . . . oh dear.
That’s enough for tonight kiddies. I need to go take my insulin shot or fix my bike. Something epically ordinary like that. To me it will always be 1995 when a great punk rock album release was visible and there was a buzz on the streets. No WiFi required.