dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Heavy Rotation

I'm off to the beach to go rollerblading. While I was uploading songs onto my iPod for a beach playlist, I decided to check and see what the most played songs were.

Some of these I haven't listened to in over a month, but it just goes to show how much I tend to play a song to death in short bursts.

1. Kelly Osbourne - "One Word" (61 plays)

2. Kelly Clarkson - "Since U Been Gone" (53 plays)

3. B-Boys International "One Step Closer (35 plays)

4. The Killers - "Smile Like You Mean It" (30 plays)

5. Interpol - "Evil" (24 plays)

6. Backstreet Boys - "Incomplete" (20 plays)

7. Pop! - "Serious (WIP Shala Wap Mix)" (19 plays)

8. Gunther/Samantha Fox - "Touch Me" (18 plays)

9. Interpol - "Not Even Jail" (18 plays)

10. Kelly Clarkson - "Behind These Hazel Eyes" (18 plays)

Friday, April 29, 2005

American Coke-Snorting, Rap Sheet-Bearing, Pot Smoking, Wife-Beating, Pill-Popping, Sister-Smacking Idols!

Awesome! So yesterday's news contained the revelation that American Idol finalist Bo Bice - one of the two long-haired rockers on the show - was arrested twice in the past 4 years on drug charges. The Smoking Gun, the bastion of scandal supreme, cited court documents detailing Bice's 2001 arrest in Helena, Ala. on a cocaine possession charge.

Now, FOX is standing by Bice - and why shouldn't they? After all, the notoriously conservative network's hero, George W. Bush, was a former cokehead, and he's the ultimate American Idol, no?

But, wait! That's not all! Bice was arrested in 2003 on a marijuana possession charge. This season's contestants (and judges) are the best! In addition to Bice's vices, finalist Scott Savol was arrested previously on domestic violence charges, and squeaky clean popstar-turned-supposed-pill-popper Paula Abdul is the apparent subject of scrutiny on the upcoming Primetime Live "Fallen Idol" special - airing on ABC May 4th - after an alleged affair with season 3 contestant Corey Clark (Clark himself got kicked off the show last year when it was revealed he kicked the hell out of his sister).

Even more disturbing, though, is how this week's cast-off from the show, Constantine Maroulis, has an album out - and it's currently #2 on the Amazon list of top selling CDs. There's even a parental advisory sticker on it! How naughty!

This is such an improvement over last year. Maybe if Diana DeGarmo had snorted a pile of coke out of a hooker's G-string in a Wal-Mart changing room, her CD might not have flopped.

We Love A Guy Who Knows How To Pout

We forgot to fawn over Brandon Flowers this week! Sorry, we'll make up for it now. At one point we had this photo up in the column along the side, but after bumping into it again, we just figured, hey - let's have another go at it.

On Monday, the 4th single by The Killers is released in the UK - "Smile Like You Mean It." This has always been our favorite track off the album Hot Fuss, and it's been long overdue for a proper single release.

Here are the configurations and b-sides available for the single, all of which can be ordered off the HMV UK site:

CD Single
1. Smile Like You Mean It
2. Get Trashed

7 Inch Vinyl
1. Smile Like You Mean It
2. Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town [Radio 1 Session]

12 Inch Vinyl
1. Smile Like You Mean It [Ruff And Jam Remix]
2. Mr. Brightside [Thin White Duke Remix]

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Chart Don't Lie: Gwen's #1

Today, Billboard.com reports that Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" knocks boring gangsta 50 Cent from #1 on the Hot 100 Singles chart. Well, Hallelujah! Imagine that - a pop song hitting #1 in America!

Other noticeable chart activity:

* Rob Thomas hops back into the Top 10 with "Lonely No More," at #7 this week.

* As we predicted, after topping all the worldwide iTunes download charts for a week solid, Coldplay's direly boring new single "Speed of Sound" goes straight in at #8! Billboard notes that Coldplay is only the second U.K. group in the history of the Hot 100 to have a single debut inside the top 10, the first being the Beatles in 1968

* Chart Rigger favorites Green Day fly up 26 spots to #19 with "Holiday," as it's this week's fastest-growing digital track (due most likely to the availability of the "faded ending" edit - the album version overlaps it's ending with the start of "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams")

* Season 4 American Idol finalists debut at #39 with "When You Tell Me That You Love Me." Pretty weak compared the the season 2 finalists' singles

* Kelly Clarkson's latest Max Martin-produced single "Behind These Hazel Eyes" moves up 9 notches to #46

Pretty good week. We can't say enough how happy we are that digital downloads are finally factoring into the charts.

Nobody Puts Paula In A Corner!

Okay, we're getting more and more jazzed about the upcoming episode of Primetime Live, "Fallen Idol" - which ABC has said will "explore explosive claims about behind-the-scenes activities" at FOX's American Idol. Things are really heating up now that AI judge and washed up popstar Paula Abdul is threatening legal action over the special's alleged exploration into stories of her banging former season 3 contestant Corey Clark.

You rememeber Corey. He's the one who got kicked off the show last year when it came out that he was facing charges for beating the shit out of his sister. Classy. He's reportedly trying to sell a tell-all book about his experiences with the program, including an alleged affair with Abdul. Now, really, Corey, is this something you want to admit to? Are you that desperate for media attention? (Hey, speaking of which, whatever happened to Mario Vasquez?)

At any rate, a spokesperson for Paula released this statement:

"Paula Abdul will not dignify the false statements made by Corey Clark with a response. Mr. Clark is an admitted liar and opportunist who engages in unlawful activities. He is communicating lies about Paula Abdul in order to generate interest in a book deal."

Today's Los Angeles Times reported that her lawyer, Marty Singer, sent a letter to ABC threatening legal action if the network airs the special. Get over it, Paula. Otherwise we're gonna threaten legal action of the release of "Blowing Kisses On The Wind," "Vibeology" and "Will You Marry Me?". Why? Because those songs sucked!

The hourlong Primetime Live report by anchor John Quinones is scheduled May 4 (10 p.m. ET).

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Let's Face It: Rob Thomas Is Hot

Alright, I know some of you out there think he's boring. And maybe Matchbox Twenty were the poster kids for '90s corporate elevator rock. But, there's no denying that - with his new boyband-esque haircut and wardrobe makeover - the newly solo Rob Thomas is one sexy mo' fo!

It should also be noted that today Billboard reported Hot Rob did the following:

* Made chart history by being the first male artist from a pop or rock group to bow at #1 with his debut album since the chart began in 1955

* Knocked crazy skank Mariah Carey from #1 on the album chart with his CD "Something To Be," which sold 252,000 copies

So, just for you, we decided to go back and grab some photos of Rob at his most homoerotic:

He's never really had a problem making out with this guy from his band in public.

Nice tongue, Rob. So, uh, what exactly can ya do with it?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Who Got Screwed?

Remember when Paris Hilton was supposedly releasing a record, and the lead single "Screwed" was "leaked" all over the internet? She even started her own label, Heiress Records (we're assuming because no major label would touch her with a barge pole).

Yeah, well that was like 7 or 8 months ago. Since then, it came out that Napoleon Dynamite minx Haylie Duff had been the one to originally record "Screwed" for her debut CD, which scotched plans for a release from Paris. Hmm, suddenly, the raccoon-eyed porn heiress's version being "leaked" seems to make a lot more sense now.

At the same time, there's been nary a peep from either blonde poplet on their CDs coming out this year. These, folks, are the things that keep us up at night.

If anyone has any information on the whereabouts or dates of either CD being released, please comment below. What can we say? It's Tuesday and we're highly bored.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Music For Boys

Can you believe it's nearly 20 years since "West End Girls" went to #1 and made Pet Shop Boys a household name? (The single topped the chart in the UK in October '85, and then hit #1 in the US the following spring)

Coincidentally, UK dance label DMC is also celebrating its 20th Back To Mine compilation- released today - and what better way to do so than to put out a double-disc set and have PSBs Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe choose the track listing.
Neil's idea when compiling the CD was to create a sequence of late-night listening featuring electronic, ambient, classical and pop music. Chris, on the other hand, has chosen songs about love, friendship, sex, religion, hope and despair, starting with early 80s electro through Italian disco, rock, gospel - and ending of course with classic Dusty Springfield.

You can order your copy of the Pet Shop Boys' Back To Mine compilation here, or read up more about the series here.

Here is the tracklisting for this one:

Disc: 1 (Neil)
1. Fairmont - Traum
2. Harold Budd - Pulse Pause Repeat
3. Bisophere - Microgravity
4. Vladimir Martynov - Come In! 2
5. Vladimir Costa - Promenade Sentimentale
6. Etienne Daho - La Baie
7. Vessel - Tiny
8. Craig Armstrong - Laura's Theme
9. Dettinger - One Two Three No Gravity
10. Dusty Springfield - Goin' Back
11. Hans Joachim Roedelius - Lunz
12. Barbirolli New Phill Orch - Elgar's - Sopiri
13. Www.Jz-Arkh.Co.Uk - Dd Rhodes
14. Video Kid - Video Kid
15. Lobe - Movement
16. John Surman - At Dusk
17. Emile Gilels - Grieg's Lyric Pieces

Disc: 2 (Chris)
1. Savage - Don't Cry Tonight
2. Mr Flagio - Take A Chance
3. Klein & Mbo - Dirty Talk
4. The Flirts - Passion
5. Matia Bazaar - Ti Sento
6. Justice Vs. Simian - Never Be Alone
7. Queen - The Show Must Go On
8. Celestial Choir - Stand On The Word
9. Carl Bean - I Was Born This Way
10. Dusty Springfield - I'd Rather Leave While I'm In Love

Saturday, April 23, 2005

American Scandal

Set your Tivos, kids, because ABC News is about to blow the lid off American Idol in a Primetime Live expose that is "potentially explosive," according to Daily Variety.

Showbizdata.com reports that the show will examine the relationships between the judges - Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul - as well as the contestants. They're also gonna dig into why Paula always seems way gooned out on pills.

This is great news, and it's about time that ABC put the screws to FOX and its' most valuable asset. Any entity responsible for Clay Aiken deserves to be shut down. No word yet on the date of the airing, but it's been reported that it'll most likely run during May sweeps.

Lindsay Lohan Rawks!

Yes, she rocks. She rolls. And according to this, she's also fond of getting coked out of her gourd. But, we digress.

Lindsay's new single, "Over," is coming out in the UK this Monday. And lest you doubt her hard-rockin' credibility, she's posing on the cover with a shiny pink guitar. We can picture the banter at the photo shoot now:

Lindsay: I'm bored.

Photographer: Just one more shot, Linda, I promise. We need something that's gonna show your rockin' credibility, because your last single, "Rumors," flopped, and that one was R&B. So now your label wants to market you as a punk rock guitar chick, ala Ashlee and Avril.

Lindsay: Um... can you, like, talk slower? I don't understand?

Photographer: Here, Layla, hold this.

Lindsay: But, it's heavy, and it looks confusing! Who's Layla?

Photographer: You rock.

Lindsay: What?

Now, in all fairness, we went over to the iTunes music store and played a clip of "Over." And, well, at least she still has a movie career.

Bigmouth Strikes Again

What a dumbass. Fresh from the recent mudslinging with The Killers in the press, The Bravery are now using fightin' words to diss UK stalwarts Duran Duran. However, Bravery singer Sam Endicott's comments may come back to bite him in the rear next month.

Duran Duran will be doing a stadium show on May 28th in Birmingham (UK), and Daniel Bedingfield and The Bravery have been asked by them to open. But, last month, music blog guru Arjan got Sam to say this in an interview:

How do you feel about the comparisons with Duran Duran and New Order?
No artist likes to be compared to others. You always think you're special and unique and all that bullshit. But at least they are comparing us to good bands instead of shitty ones. The Duran Duran comparison is my least favorite, because I don't like that band at all. It is just human nature that when you hear something to compare it. There are things that we have in common, but we take our influences from a lot of different things.

Yeah, Sam, but when a check is waved in front of your nose to open for the band that you "don't like at all," we bet you shut your trap real quick. The label really needs to get a publicist to hover over this guy's shoulder holding a stun gun during interviews.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Chart Don't Lie

Thanks to a brief stint at the top of the iTunes daily Top 100 Songs chart last week, Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" bounds to #3 from #10 on the Billboard Hot 100. This gives her a second US Top 10 hit off her solo album.

Now, while "Hollaback Girl" does have an undeniable catchiness, we'd rather hear tracks like the Cars-influenced "Cool" or New Order-produced "The Real Thing" on the airwaves than "Hollaback" or "Rich Girl." Why's the label releasing all the ho-hum ones as singles?

Outside of the Top 10, The Killers crawl up to #11 with "Mr. Brightside," and Backstreet Boys spring up to #28 with "Incomplete," also thanks to a wave of downloads in the single's second week of availability - plus radio airplay. "Incomplete" makes the BSBs 13th Top 40 hit in the States.

Meanwhile, a notch below at #29 is where Weezer plunges to after being at #13 last week with "Beverly Hills." A lack of mainstream airplay has cut short the song's rise up the chart. With this kind of activity - singles debuting high from sales but then falling fast without airplay - the US singles chart is starting to resemble the one in the UK.

Finally, the only other tune worth mentioning is our old fave, Green Day, who are steadily getting closer to the Top 40 with their latest single, "Holiday." This week it flies up 41 places to #45. Here's hoping that Warner Bros. decides to release "Wake Me Up When September Ends" and "Whatsername" as the next singles. Then they can finish up the tour and wrap up a nice, neat comeback.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

So Pretty

So, here's me in Dallas. It's a stunner, eh?

I'm still trying to recoup from my trip. No offense to Chart Rigger's readers that smoke, but since Dallas hasn't banned smoking in public entirely, my throat/voice is still fucked up from the trip. I'm sensitive, ya know.

Also, after finally trying Texas BBQ, I'm thinking about it on a daily basis. Ah, well. Good times.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


J'ason D. will be fulfilling a lifelong dream by interviewing New Order frontman Bernard Sumner next week, for another publication. I've been a fan since 1987, when I heard "True Faith" for the first time at the age of 13 that summer.

I got the cassette of their album Technique for my 15th birthday, and then got my hair cut like Bernard's - a haircut that I pretty much stuck with for about 5 years.

Alas, I think I'll leave that useless bit of information out when I talk to him, but if anyone has any suggestions for questions, post 'em in the comments section. Also, make sure you check out New Order's new CD, Waiting For The Siren's Call - specifically the songs "Guilt Is A Useless Emotion" and "I Told You So."

Coldplay Sucks

Listen, if we were a Coldplay fan, eagerly awaiting their first album in 3 years, and then we went to the iTunes store and listened to the new single "Speed of Sound," we'd be highly pissed right now.

After all that time and all the hype in the wanky music press, this is what they're serving up as a lead single to the album? It sound EXACTLY like "Clocks" or any of the other horrible songs on that last album. Expect the end of that "Greatest Band In The World" labeling that seems to get thrown around so effortlessly these days. Maybe the fans will revolt and brand Gwyneth as a Yoko, blaming her for the fall of their idol.

Nonetheless, Chart Rigger itself isn't disappointed. We haven't been fans since the first album.

Dallas Duo: Kelly vs. Kelly

Well, here I am back from my trip to Dallas, where I got flown by the tavern guild and convention and visitor's bureau as one of six journalists to get familiarized with the city's GLBT community. Our daily itinerary was pretty much this: breakfast, tour an amazing hotel, see some sights, cocktail reception, dinner with lots of cocktails, bar, club, bar, club, bar, bar, bar, club, stumble home at 3 a.m. Then, repeat for 3 days straight.

If you ever find yourself visiting the city of Dallas, I highly reccomend hitting the club Minc. Whether you're gay, straight, male or female, there's something for everybody there. Trust me -- it's pretty swank.

Alright, now since the city of Ft. Worth neighbors Dallas, you can imagine that Kelly Clarkson is pretty much the local hero there. In fact, all the young girls there seemed to look like her - but moreso in her chubbier, American Idol days than her new svelte look. "Since U Been Gone" was literally blaring out of cars left and right while we were being taken around.

That said, I was pretty surprised to hit one of the clubs along the Cedar Springs strip and hear "One Word" by Kelly Osbourne! Of course, the memory is pretty blurry, as I think at that point my liver was drowning in the 8 cocktails I'd had earlier that day - but I'm pretty sure I got out on the dancefloor and gave a proper twirl.

I put those two bitches on a playlist - just those two songs - and had them on repeat all weekened anytime I was in my hotel room (which wasn't often).

But, now I'm glad to be back home in L.A. I'm extremely exhausted, and after 2 days back, still not caught up on all the sleep I lost.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

Well, J'ason D. is off to Dallas for a journalist thang tomorrow morning. I'll be there throughout the weekend.

Whenever I travel, I like to make fun playlists on my iPod to listen to! And that means, since I'll be going to the scary land of The Bush Family, I'll be loading up lots of fun Europop from the Clinton era to put me at ease!

And maybe, since our friend Malero Ombrero has been such a button this week, I'll even throw on a little Kelly Clarkson -- especially since I'll be in her home state of Texas.

Anyway, while I'm thinking happy thoughts and popping my fingers to Alex Party while I'm taken around and shown the sights, I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Britney's Knocked Up

So, the rumours have been flying around all month that Britney Spears is pregnant. And, today on her official website, she confirmed that she and her trashola husband are indeed with child (normally here, we'd link up her website, but we just can't be responsible for leading our readers down that treacherous, wasted path).

Now that B. Spears has discovered Kaballah (oh, did we spell that wrong? Who cares!) and morning sickness, maybe she'll leave behind her delusions of a music career.

Really, she shoulda just stopped with "Stronger."

Max Martin Is Hot As F*ck!

We've been a fan of the Max Martin sound since back when he was Denniz Pop's underling, writing and producing a lot of Ace of Base's second album, The Bridge. After Denniz sadly passed away, it was Max who pretty much shaped the sound of pop music in the late '90s by crafting hits for Britney, Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync -- and turning those artists into household names.

Yeah, yeah... the real point is that Max is a total hottie! Not only is he back on the pop landscape after lying low for a few years -- thanks to Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" hitting #2 a couple weeks back -- but he's gotta be the most handsome producer out there! C'mon, who would you rather take a roll in the hay with; Max Martin or Phil Spector? See, we rest our case!

Now, granted, these photos are about 3 years old -- but no matter! We'd still blindly hop a plane to Stockholm and marry him if he asked. In fact, we're gonna email this post to him as soon as it's up. Maybe he's still single.

But, while we're shopping for a wedding dress, we're gonna make due with the 3 new songs he produced on the Backstreet Boys' new album, Never Gone, due out June 14th.

In our opinion, the three best ever Max Martin tunes are: 1.) "Beautiful Life"/Ace of Base, 2.) "I Want It That Way"/Backstreet Boys, 3.) "To Be Able To Love Again"/ Jessica Folcker, 4.) "Stronger"/Britney Spears 5.) "Shape Of My Heart"/Backstreet Boys.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

At Least Kelly's Got Some Originality When She's Being Unoriginal

Well, if it's true that everything original has been exhausted and there's nothing new to discover (or everyone these days is just too lazy to forge new paths), then at least there are a few young poplets out there willing to exploit some of the more interesting, forgotten gems of new wave for their "new" sound.

Case in point; Kelly Osbourne. While her ho-bag peers like Avril, Ashlee and, er, Kelly (Clarkson, that is) are jumping on the rock-pop bandwagon, the Ozz-Chylde is preaching about her love for Berlin and covering Human League's "The Sound Of The Crowd" on her upcoming album Sleeping In The Nothing. At least she's not going for the obvious with this one, originally a UK hit for the League back in 1981.

As we previously reported last month in a startling piece of journalism, we totally love Kelly's new single, "One Word." What we failed to mention (and what Mr. Brady pointed out), is that "One Word" borrows heavily from Visage's 1980 electro classic, "Fade To Grey." The vocals on the Visage version, sung by Steve Strange, have been slightly altered in the Kelly Osbourne reincarnation.

Incidentally, Steve Strange is now listed as the booking agent in the UK for The Bravery. Of course, we remember Steve best from his appearance in David Bowie's "Ashes To Ashes" video, and from the legendary stories of bitchy rivalry with Boy George in Boy's autobio, Take It Like A Man.

For all your groovy Kelly Osbourne news, visit her official fansite.

You're Overrated, Now Begone!

Here are three artistes that, if they disappeared off the face of the planet, we're pretty sure showbiz would go on without:

1. 50 Cent
Does the world really need 50 Cent? Seriously, what are his contributions to the better wealth of mankind? Certainly they don't stack up to those of Kelly Osbourne or JoJo! Do people really need to fit in so bad that they run out and buy this guy's misogy-rap just so others will want to see them naked? When one has five songs on the chart at the same time, there's nowhere to go but down. So, start goin' down, 50.

2. Bloc Party
We hate when fashion magazines and stupid rock press tries to make a band "happen." Case in point: Bloc Party. Oh, so you went to artsy college and talked about Russian czars while you all drank coffee and got high and did secret giggle-touch in the dark? Big fuckin' deal! Don't form a band and rip off Franz Ferdinand and force us to listen to your crap! Go get a 9 to 5 job and become miserable and cry to your therapist about it, like the rest of us. Geez!

3. The Kaiser Chiefs
Oh, hell no. This just can't happen, friends. "I Predict A Riot" is the worst song on the radio right now (next to the 17 currently being spun by or featuring 50 Cent). Are we the only ones who look at The Kaiser Chiefs and think "novelty act?" If The Darkness is a parody band of '80s glam metal, then Kaiser Chiefs are a parody of Madness/Gang of Four/Men At Work. Just stop. Really.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Diluted Moby

We're totally diggin' the new double-disc set Hotel, from Moby. Well, okay, so we haven't actually listened to the second disc yet, and the last third of the first one is pretty much elevator muzak. But still -- the first 12 or so songs are good...

At any rate, Moby recently talked to the Associated Press about growing up a poor kid on food stamps in Connecticut:

"This is very sad, but I can't drink undiluted juice," he explained. "Everything we drank was diluted because you had to make it last longer. So, when I drink undiluted juice, it tastes like syrup to me. When I make cereal, I'll make half water and half soy milk, because that's how I grew up.

"And it's a little disconcerting when you see someone pouring water on cereal, but you have to make do."

That's just wrong. But, we called in a favor and got free tickets to Moby's L.A. concert next month, so that's just right!

You can catch Moby's new video for "Beautiful" here. There's a fun bit where a moose and a bunny rabbit have sex in the back of a car.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Secret History

It's strange to think that 11 whole years have passed since, among many things, the death of Kurt Cobain. The news of his suicide hit on Friday, April 8th that year -- and it's now Friday 8th of 2005.

I'm definitely not one of those who claim to have been a Nirvana fan from the get-go, although I had probably heard about them before most die-hard fans around today did. By the time I turned 14-years-old in 1988, I was heavily into The Cure, Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys. I was lucky to have parents who were into really great music all my life -- and who actually bought an album for themselves that would later lead me to becoming a lifelong fan of a certain seminal British band -- Strangeways Here We Come by The Smiths.

In the summer of 1988, a new show on MTV began airing at 11:00 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays called Post Modern MTV. It was a mini weeknight version of the networks staple "college rock" show 120 Minutes, which was on every Sunday night at midnight. I used to stay up and videotape both shows. It's where I first heard of bands like The Primitives, The Pixies, Wire and Mudhoney.

Back then, the term "alternative rock" wasn't really in use like it is today. You could still catch an R.E.M. video played right after an Erasure video. The format wasn't so rigid. I can still remember staying up on Christmas of 1988 and watching They Might Be Giants hosting 120 Minutes. The tape is still at my parents' house somewhere.

By 1990/1991, thanks to late night MTV, I was getting into the whole Manchester/rave scene: Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses (who I had read about in an issue of Spin magazine in fall '89 and gone out and bought their tape shortly after), The Charlatans UK, etc. I was just a teenager easily seduced by music from the UK with a good hook. As I said earlier, I was deeply into The Smiths and Morrissey, and in my late nights of filling up miles of videotape with alt rock, I had begun to hear the buzz about Nirvana.

It must have been early fall of 1991 when I caught the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on 120 Minutes. What the fuck is this? I thought. This sure doesn't have a trippy beat and a shimmery melody. I recall actually thinking how out-of-place the video and song seemed, how -- well -- grungy. It was a lot darker than the Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr. videos that occasionally got played. There was something really different about "Teen Spirit."

This was my senior year of high school, and -- here's a shocker -- I was involved with my high school's Drama Club and Thespian troupe. That November of '01, during play rehearsal after school one night, I heard these jocks who were also in the play talking about Nirvana. I couldn't believe it. I mean, I didn't really dig the song, but this was my fucking music! Who were these fuckers to be listening to underground bands? (Not to mention, what were jocks doing in a high school play?)

Well, we all know that Nirvana at this time were on the verge of transforming from underground band to being the biggest band in the world within a few short, winter months. Incidentally, I never bought Nevermind, and totally turned my nose up at them when they became everyone at my school's band du jour.

I can recall sitting on the living room floor of a friend's house in summer of '92 and seeing the world premier of the video for "Lithium." I had just graduated from high school a month or two before. My friend was laughing hysterically over the title. Lithium -- a drug used to quell the mood swings of depression. She just kept laughing. I later realized it was because she had been in a psych ward at a young age and was well-acquainted with lithium herself.

Okay, so fast forward to fall of 1993 -- my sophomore year of college. The video for "Heart Shaped Box," off Nirvana's In Utero album, was in heavy rotation. I was being swayed, finally. This was an undeniably good song. By this point, I was arts & entertainment editor of my college newspaper, and every Thursday night I'd be at the paper's office with the other 5 staff members, laying it out 'til all hours of the night. Our graphics guy, Shane, was always playing music on these nights -- stuff like Smashing Pumpkins and Green Day, before they went mainstream. I remember he even played the freakin' Spaghetti Incident by Guns & Roses. He also had In Utero, and I used to make him play it over and over.

Another friend of mine, Matt, had In Utero, which I borrowed. I made a copy off his (cheapskate!) and would play that back to back with Siamese Dreams by Smashing Pumpkins (which I actually bought myself) constantly in the early winter months of 1994.

On April 8th that year, I clearly remember finishing my last class of the day and heading over to the college library to meet up with my friend Meg. We were at a table, and I was looking through the newspaper to check show times for the movie Threesome, which opened that day. If memory serves, Meg's friend Angie came up to us and told us that Kurt Cobain had killed him self. No way. He was the biggest icon of our generation, so there was no way he was going to kill himself. Bull.

Sure enough, I got in my car to drive home, and it was all over the radio. MTV and CNN were all over it when I got home and turned on the television. That was it. Wouldn't you know it. Just when I finally get into Nirvana...

There have been four incidents in my life that I feel define the times I am living in; incidents that have completely shaken me to the core and made me realize that the world is beautiful, relentless and confusing at the same time. I am in no way implying that these events are of equal importance, but merely that they have each moved me as I've watched them unfold.

They are, chronologically:

1. The burning of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in 1993

2. The discovery of Kurt Cobain's suicide on April 8, 1994

3. The Columbine High School shootings in spring of 1999

4. September 11, 2001

Over the years, I discovered what I had been missing with all of Nirvana's recordings. I've read a few books on the band. I have the boxed set which came out in November last year. I recently got the documentary on the making of Nevermind, which is excellent. Not a week goes by where I don't play some Nirvana songs on my iPod on the drive home from work or on a walk around the UCLA campus, and my favorites are always changing. At the moment they are "Drain You," "Marigold," "Pennyroyal Tea" and "You Know You're Right."

I feel intrinsically linked to this music. It's a part of me. It's a part of my whole generation. It's not for everyone, I guess. But, for me, well --

I always knew it would come to this.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Chart Don't Lie

The best thing that ever happened to the Billboard charts is that paid digital downloads were finally allowed to figure into them. Now we're able to see a difference, albeit slowly, of what's being played on radio (which used to dominate the outcome of the charts) and what people are actually out there buying (since the CD single is no longer).

This week's top download at the iTune Music Store tallied up enough sales to debut at #25 on the Hot 100 Singles chart: Weezer's "Beverly Hills." It makes it the geek-rock band's biggest hit there since 1994's "Undone... The Sweater Song" went to #57.

Too bad, in Chart Rigger's opinion, "Beverly Hills" sucks. The days of "relevant" artists trying to be ironic about L.A. is long gone. It just makes them seem -- well, irrelevent. Didn't anyone learn a lesson from Madonna her last time around?

We prefer Weezer back in the day when they had that tinge of a "heavy rock meets The Cars" sound to them (thanks to producer Ric Ocasek).

At any rate, keep downloading, kids! Legally, of course. Ahem.

The Bravery Strike Back!

This is just pure comedy! The rock war between The Killers and The Bravery gets better each day, but one wonders if, since both bands are on Island/Def Jam, this isn't some PR scam to hype album sales?

Here's the latest, in response to Brandon Flowers' recent comments:

Singer SAM ENDICOTT says, "The poor guy, he's scared. I feel bad talking about him, because it's like hitting a girl. It's like picking on a kid in a wheelchair."

Guitarist MICHAEL ZACHARIN adds, "If you have seen them live, they are incredibly boring. You remember what they used to look like, then people started comparing them to us and suddenly they got a stylist and Brandon frosted his hair and he's buying the cute pink jacket."

Hey, Sam. Come slap us and then tell us you love us. But, do it naked.

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Brandon Flowers Is Such A Bitch!

Brandon Flowers, the very outspoken frontman for The Killers, is lashing out all over the place like an out of control garden hose, spouting all over anyone in its' path!

Maybe Brando's on the rag, but in an interview with MTV last week, he had this to say about rival band and labelmates The Bravery:

"Look at a band like the Bravery. They're signed because we're a band. I've heard rumors about [members of] that band being in a different kind of band, and how do you defend that? If you say, 'My heart really belongs to what I'm doing now,' but you used to be in a ska band. I can see the Strokes play or Franz Ferdinand play and it's real, and I haven't gotten that from the Bravery. I think people will see through them."

Imagine how bitter La Flowers is that The Bravery's self-titled debut album hit the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart at #18 in its' first week of release this week!

B. Flo also has this to (bitchily) say about his band's latest video, for the single "Smile Like You Mean It":

"It's very English-looking. It goes through the story of a house over a 20-year period of time. It's got a sentimental feel about it, but I don't really love the video, I'm really not too happy with it. But what can you do? I mean, they're releasing the song as a rock single, and it's the least-rocking song we have. It's a mid-tempo song."

Jesus! Your album is close to going double-platinum. Get over it, sir. Perhaps all the bitchiness was brought on by this:

"This guy who was in my band a long time ago is trying to sue us. We wrote 'Mr. Brightside' a long, long time ago, when we had a different drummer. He had nothing to do with it, but his wife is a lawyer, so she just sent a letter to our lawyer. Wow. You always hear about people coming out of the woodwork once you get big, but this is ... wow."

Is the world out to get poor BF? Or is he just becoming pop's crankiest brat?

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

...And So Remember, It's Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away.

From Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross:

April 5, 1994

"Jainism preached that there were thirty heavens and seven hells, all layered throughout our lives; if he had any luck, this would be his seventh and final hell. He put his works away, floating faster and faster, feeling his breathing slow. He had to hurry now: Everything was becoming hazy, and an aqua green hue framed every object. He grabbed the heavy shotgun, put it against the roof of his mouth. It would be loud; he was certain of that. And then he was gone."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

How The Endless Road Unwinds You

I don't think I've had a more stressful week in a long, long time. That said, as one would imagine, I like to turn to music in times like this -- especially songs that have that timeless quality and effortlessly inspire us to keep looking ahead.

Here are 3 songs that will always get me through another day:

1. "While You See A Chance" by Steve Winwood --I don't care who the person is, this song will move you. At once mournful and hopeful at the same time, the lyrics can make any dilemma seem trivial.

Key lyrics:
And that old gray wind is blowing
And there's nothing left worth knowing
And it's time you should be going

2. "Pennyroyal Tea" by Nirvana -- How the hell did Kurt Cobain have the knack to sing his life and tap into at least one incident that we can all relate to? Though the lyrics are a bit autobiographical and esoteric, the wrenching, soul-baring guitar solo still chokes me up every time, after twelve years of listening to it.

Key lyrics:
Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld
So I can sigh eternally
I'm so tired I can't sleep
I'm a liar and a thief

3. "Return To Innocence" by Enigma -- Okay, this one might seem a bit obvious, but it's not to be discounted. Close your eyes, and let the song wash over you. It'll forever remind me of sour apple Blowpops in between classes, Friday nights in the springtime and, incidentally, losing my innocence with the CD single on repeat.

Key lyrics:
If you want then start to laugh
If you must then start to cry
Be yourself, don't hide
Just believe in destiny
Don't care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don't give up and lose the chance
Your return to innocence

So, what songs inspire you? I'd love for you to share. Leave a comment and let me know. And, if you've read this far, thanks for listening.