The InsiderOne Daily Report
Friday, January 26, 2001
The Uncoolest Of The Uncool
InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: VH1 is like Rolling Stone's little brother it so much wishes it were a little older and looked cooler, like Rolling Stone. The joke's on VH1 though Rolling Stone has been lame for longer than I care to remember. Like, who could possibly think Studio 54 is (or was actually ever) cool? Why, vh1.com! You can enter a contest there right now, and if you're unlucky, win a trip to one of the ugliest places on the planet, Las Vegas, where you get "VIP access to Studio 54." You'll recall that the real Studio 54 in New York was where a lot of silly rich people and silly celebrities used to go to snort stupid drugs and dance to disco. In 2001, only a middle-aged, out-of-it VH1 executive could possibly come up with such a contest. (Is this an excuse for some execs on the company tab to go lose money and have a "lost weekend" in Vegas?) Once (we're talking a long time ago) Rolling Stone ran really well-written, well-reported profiles of important artists. They would get to the Beatles, or the Stones, or Dylan, or Pete Townshend, or, years later, Kurt Cobain and Bono, when those artists were still making records that mattered. Imagine Chuck Young wrote a cover story on the Sex Pistols before the group ever hit the U. S.! These days, they pay journalists a lot of money to write thousands of words about Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. The kinda-dumb younger brother didn't quite understand that Rolling Stone had lost it, which is how we ended up with "Behind the Music," those formulaic rise-and-fall rockumentaries. You've seen 'em. You know they're trash, a guilty pleasure that, after viewing, often leaves you feeling like it's time for a shower. After a long day of whatever, I guess a lot of people just wanna settle in for a six-pack or a joint and some mindless "Behind the Music," 'cause those things saved VH1's ass. Over at the music area of plastic.com, which is where I go these days when I want to be distracted, I came across a thread (it wasn't hard to find) mostly dissing you got it VH1's "100 Greatest Albums of Rock 'n' Roll." This is a "Greatest Albums" list obviously put together by someone who hasn't listened to an album released after, oh, 1980. Someone must have told the list maker to include Nirvana and the Beastie Boys and Lauryn Hill, but (without checking) I estimate that 85 of the albums, maybe even 90, came out before 1980. Anyway, over at plastic.com someone was complaining about the list, and the fact that like 50 of the albums on it were by the Beatles, and weren't the Beatles a bit overrated? I responded that this wasn't about the Beatles, this was about a lame list by a lame, cynical company targeting yuppies. (Believe it or not, people, including myself, actually spend time debating these kinds of things on a Web site!) Then someone going by "Schlag!" posted one of my favorites among the 64 posts on this subject that went up in about 24 hours: "The number of omissions on the list is amazing... where is Black Sabbath? Black Flag? Why is Miles Davis on the list? Miles Davis is an amazing performer, who produced amazing music, which is patently not rock and roll... As for the Beatles, why can't I argue that they weren't the genius band of all time? I really don't think they were. They popularized sounds and experimentation that others had already tried, and, sure, they were more consistent than a lot of their peers, but I think there are other bands out there just as deserving of the attention. I normally dig lists like this, some of them can be a great excuse to either expand your collection or dig back through it and rediscover some stuff, but the sheer weight given to the sixties (and the Beatles) lets me know that the listwriters were simply creatively bankrupt." Hear, hear! So then I went over to the VH1 site, which I never do when I went there about a year ago it was so terrible I didn't want to ever have to experience it again. Now I feel kinda bad. One of the last things I tried to do before walking out the door at Viacom-owned SonicNet (sister site to vh1.com), was to get the SonicNet home page remade in Yahoo!'s image. "Look," I argued, "they just happen to be one of the most trafficked sites on the Web. Perhaps we might learn something from them." The brainiac in charge was too busy doodling his own ideas on a napkin or something, 'cause my suggestion was ignored. Or so I thought. But lo and behold, I looked at the site, and the remade vh1.com, where that brainiac currently works in an uncomfortably small office, is modeled after ... Yahoo!
Datastream: The debut from that hard-rockin' trio The Gossip, That's Not What I Heard (Kill Rock Stars), is out, and if you saw them open for Sleater-Kinney last year you already know that this Arkansas-based group is the real deal. Singer/songwriter Beth Ditto is a commanding onstage presence; her rock 'n' roll voice is a great fit for their album's minimal riff-based rock. They begin a 28-show U. S. tour January 31 at Meow Meow in Portland, Ore.; it wraps up March 1 at 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis. All the dates are up at the killrockstars.com site. ... Concerts for A Landmine Free World is a benefit album featuring Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Steve Earle, John Prine and others. The recordings on the album were made during concerts held in December 1999 to raise awareness of the global landmine problem. The album, due April 10th, will benefit the Campaign for a Landmine Free World.
The InsiderOne Daily Report appears weekdays at 9 AM PST, except when it doesn't.
Michael Goldberg is the president of insiderone.net. He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.