Tag Archives: super bowl

Questioning the Scripture of Bill Hicks

Let’s face it – Bill Hicks was a genius.  Taking a cue from the all-time great George Carlin, Hicks infused his rebellious comedy routine with a heavy dose of philosophy. His views on society, government, religion, and drugs are still thought-provoking and profound 20-years later.  Recently while watching his 1992 special Relentless I had a moment of confusion.  While talking about the music industry’s penchant for performing fellatio on the Devil, Hick’s quipped, “Let me tell you something right now, you can print this in stone and don’t you ever forget it: any performer who ever sells a product on television is for now and all eternity removed from the artistic world.”

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The Grammys.

As Christina Aguilera stood at mid-field last weekend preparing for her Super Bowl flub of the national anthem, the announcer echoed in the background “Grammy award winning artist Christina Aguilera!” I giggled to myself finding this supposed “honor” to be a joke.  The Grammys are about as respectable as Brett Favre’s dick pics. But this did make me wonder if the Grammys have always been so misguided.  With another year of lackluster Super Bowl commercials, I soon after found myself researching the award’s history in the Album of the Year category (the only category that really matters), and what I found is that the Grammys were NEVER good. There is a pattern of ineptitude that reaches back all the way to the Grammy’s beginnings.

In the 1960s Frank Sinatra won album of the year three times, Barbara Streisand won in 1964 with the cleverly titled “Barbara Streisand Record”, and Bob Newhart won in 1961 (yes, a comedy album won album of the year).  I have no problem with old blue eyes, but think of all the classic albums of the 60s not represented here.  No “Pet Sounds”; no “Are You Experienced?”; no “Highway 61 Revisited”.  Dylan wouldn’t win the award until 1998 – inexcusable.  The Beatles were possibly the only deserving winner of the 60s with “Sergent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in 1969, but even our cherished Beatles struggled to gain love from the Grammys with this being the only album of the year award they ever won.

This out-of-touch voting continued through the 70s with the awards beginning to insult the art form that is the album by awarding a live album (“The Concert for Bangla Desh”) and a soundtrack (“Saturday Night Fever”).  I’m sorry, but neither of these should even be considered albums of the year. I’m sure the Bangla Desh deal was a good cause, and yes, “Saturday Night Fever” had some toe-tappers for the times, but album of the year? How much thought goes into basically making a disco mix-tape? Stevie Wonder won the award three times in the decade, which is all fine and dandy, but you won’t find any Neil Young (he’s never won any AOTY Grammys for his solo work),  no David Bowie (ditto), no Black Sabbath (do I even need to say it?), and no Velvet Underground (…you guessed it).

(Also no Springsteen, Zep, Floyd, Stones, Kinks, Who, Mitchell, etc, etc, etc…)

In the 80s, they got their heads on straight for a couple of years, giving the award to John Lennon in ‘82 for “Double Fantasy”, to Michael Jackson in ’84 for “Thriller”, and in ’87 when they gave it to Paul Simon for “Graceland”.  But these classics are over-shadowed by probably the worst decade of Grammy winning mishaps that included George Michael, Toto, Lionel Richie, and Christopher Cross (although Mr. Cross did have stiff competition in 1981 with Barbara Streisand and Frank Sinatra – Grammy zombies!).

In the 90s they figured things out, right? Wrong. This was the decade of awarding “Unplugged” albums, two of them in fact (and no, it wasn’t Nirvana or Alice in Chains).  How can the album of the year be a recording of old dudes (Tony Bennett and Eric Clapton) performing their greatest hits acoustically?!  You will not find one “grunge” album in the award’s history during the 90s, which makes sense, right? Who needs Nirvana when you’ve got “The Bodyguard” soundtrack? Plus, weren’t the 90s truly defined by Natalie Cole, Bonnie Rait, and Celine Dion?

The 90s also brought in another horrible pattern: the guest appearance album.  In the past 20 years, artists like Quincy Jones, Santana, Ray Charles, and Herbie Hancock have each won for “albums” comprised from buffet-style track lists,  a series of songs featuring a wide array of guest singers.  Once again, I’m not saying these albums are necessarily horrible, and I understand this is a starting line-up for the rock-and-roll hall-of-fame (another confused music entity), but do they really fit the definition of what makes a great album?  Does the voting committee even know what a good album is?

I’ll say it again: they are out-of-touch. And last year showed the award reach an all-time low with a ballot that consisted of Dave Matthews Band, Lady Gaga, The Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, and Taylor Swift (where’s Barbara Streisand when you need her?). Swift won the award because, really, what’s more thought-provoking than an album based on the trials and tribulations of a teenage girl.   This year is not much better with Lady Gaga making a second appearance alongside Katie Perry, Lady Antebellum, and Eminem.

But there is one beacon of hope on this year’s ballot: Arcade Fire’s “Suburbs”.  Some may disagree with me that it’s the best album of 2010, but I doubt anyone in their right mind would argue that it’s not the best in this line-up of hacks. Many writers believe Eminem will win which is hard to imagine considering “Recovery” isn’t even the best rap album of the year (Kanye West, The Roots, Big Boi).  But then again, it wouldn’t be surprising if he won based off the voters past penchant for awarding artists who are over ten years past their prime.

You may ask why I even care. The Grammys have always be pointless; why would I even want Arcade Fire to win? Part of me doesn’t (it’s become almost an insult; a scarlet letter).  Then again, the thought of an album off of Merge Records getting a Grammy? That would represent something big, an indie label winning the top award, a sign to  the major labels that there end is near. Artists no longer need radio or MTV to succeed; thanks to YouTube, iTunes, Pandora, internet radio, and a plethora of other technological advances, people finally have the ability to decide what’s good on their own.

But I’m not filled with pure hate here for the Grammys. In fact,  I’d like to see the Grammys become respected like the Academy Awards. When the Oscar’s list of the best films comes out, many rush out to see all the films before the awards. Can you imagine the same happening in response to the Grammys? The Academy Awards ability to build this excitement for their nominees is due to the fact that they don’t nominate films based on popularity; they nominate them simply on content. What a concept.

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Super Bowl Halftime Shows.

Back in the 60s, The Who gained notoriety and fame for their bratty, rebellious song “My Generation”, a tune best known for Roger Daltrey’s howling voice singing, “I hope I die before I get old.” Well, other than Keith Moon, none of the fellas got their wish, a fact that was evident on Sunday as the senior citizens rocked their way through a medley of classic hits.  Despite being old fogies, I thought the elderly gents put on a decent show. With the over-the-top luminescent set attempting to upstage them (pun intended), Daltrey still shimmied his way around the stage on hobbled knees, and Pete Townshend pulled off his signature guitar moves like he did back in the days before the pedo charges (I was disappointed that he didn’t smash his guitar into the halogen stage).

A picture of Pete when the feds were knocking at his door.

Despite putting on what I would deem the best Super Bowl halftime performance since 2002 when U2 brought their spectacular live show to the grid-iron, many bloggers have been panning the NFL’s halftime choice, most of them questioning why they’d choose such an old band.  The day after the performance, those ass clowns at DrudgeReport posted a picture of the band with the  simple caption, “Who?” Unfortunately this lack of knowledge of The Who went beyond conservative douche bags.  My roommate returned from a Super Bowl party that night saying that the women at his shin-dig didn’t recognize any of the songs, except “Won’t Be Fooled Again”, or as they probably titled it “the theme song from CSI”.   They didn’t recognize “Baba O’Riley”? “Pinball Wizard”?  Aren’t these classic rock radio staples?  As far as I’m concerned, anyone who doesn’t have “Who’s Next” on their i-Pod should be burnt at the stake.

"This isn't a question...of who dun it? Rather.. did The Who... do it?"

Yes, obviously The Who are old, and yes, they have been on their farewell tour for about 20 years now, but the fact that bloggers are questioning this choice is straight-up foolish. Ever since Janet Jackson’s saggy tit fell out five years ago we’ve been presented with a parade of wrinkled rockers who are way beyond their days of causing controversy (the past five years line-up: Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, and of course, The Who).  It’s all a reaction to MTV’s halftime productions that tried pushing the envelope.  And even now, when they are attempting to avoid a national debate, the dummies failed to give The Who a background check to find out that Pete Townshend is a naughty, naughty boy.

Rumor has it, they are going to continue the pedo theme next year with a performance by Gary Glitter.

Eventually, they will run out of old white dudes for their halftime spectacle and be forced to look elsewhere for talent.  Is there a modern artist that could pull it off?  Nickelback would make 90% of the country throw-up all their hot wings and baby franks while Lady Gaga would probably have fighter jets pouring pig’s blood over the audience.  If you put Faith Hill up there you’d have 50% of the country turning away due to their standards, and a Beyonce performance would result in a Tea Party revolt (they don’t seem to care much for black people).  I would suggest a The Flaming Lips for a halftime show due to their insane live performances, but if people don’t know “Behind Blue Eyes” how the hell can I expect them to know “She Don’t Use Jelly”?

As far as I’m concerned, they are in a lose/lose situation. Our country no longer has a collective love of one artist or band. I doubt we will ever see a band like The Beatles or an artist like Elvis ever again; there are just so many more options out there for us.  As much as I hate to say it, they should probably drop the whole music act angle all together.  Give us a show! Put Cirque De Solei out there or The Blue Man Group.  Let us see the type of extravaganza shown at the Beijing Olympics a few years ago.  Not even “The Puppy Bowl” could compete with that.

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Eels “End Times”

Eels
“End Times”
(Vagrant Records)

Rating: 5.5

I couldn’t watch the Super Bowl tonight. I’d occasionally flip it on to check the score, but I couldn’t keep my attention focused on it for longer than five minutes. Being a life-long Viking fan, I couldn’t bring myself to sitting and watching the Saints win a game they didn’t even deserve to be in (Vikings had double the yards, and don’t tell me there wasn’t VooDoo at play in that game with six fumbles, two interceptions, and possibly the worst overtime officiating in NFL history).  After the devastating loss in the 1999 NFC Championship, I never thought I’d be so let down again by a Viking’s loss, but the late game meltdown knocked the optimism out of me once again, witnessing deja vu as another chance to get to the super bowl slipped away.

This is a beer label my friend and fellow Viking fan Justin LeSieur recently made in honor of the late game mismanagement of that tard Brad Childress.

In the same way, I never thought I’d see the Eel’s Mark Oliver Everett (best known as simply “E”) so depressed again, not after his 1998 album dedicated to the grieving process, “Electro-Shock Blues”.  His newest album “End Times” deals with the same feelings of desperation, this time focusing on his recent break-up with his girlfriend.  Unfortunately, this album fails in comparison to “Electro-Shock” for several reasons.  For one, the music seems bland, lacking the playfulness of E’s work from the late 90s.

Much of the album focuses around E and his acoustic guitar, strumming away, which is fine and dandy, but over the years I’ve come to expect the unexpected from E.  Most of the tunes stumble along in milk toast fashion. Yes, a break-up can deflate you, but does it have to deflate your creativity as well?  On “Electro-shock Blues”, E approached the concept of death in a way no one had done before.  He gave a creepy life to songs about cancer, hospital food, and funerals. You could still sense his misery within the upbeat tempos, making the lyrics even more jarring.

Even the lyrics on “End Times” lack the usual genius of E.  The majority of the songs are straight-forward and literal, containing little of the jarring imagery of his past work. It almost seems like he’s reading them straight out of his diary. There isn’t much that is going to catch you off guard; it’s just a sad album, nothing less, nothing more.

Only on a few songs are glimpses of E still present, including “I Need a Mother”. In the song, E dissects a one-sided relationship where he says, “I’ve been your daddy for too long. I need a little mothering once in a while.”  It plays as a modern version of Neil Young’s “A Man Needs a Maid”, discussing the simple fact that a man needs a woman who takes care of him “just once in a while”.  The song has a borderline Oedipus complex, yet it presents a view on relationships rarely touched upon.

“I Need a Mother” is followed by “Little Bird”, a total contradiction to the song prior (remember when the Eel’s songs about birds were happy?).  He jumps from “I need a lover, not someone like you” to “God damn, I miss that girl”.  While it’s okay to have songs that don’t follow an overall theme, it kind of lessens the value of the break-up concept album.  “Electro-Shock Blues” had a definite storyline, leading you from “my life is piss and shit” to E’s discovery that life goes on.  That moment of realization never comes on “End Times”; it’s doom and gloom through and through.

As I sit here typing, I can see the Saints celebrating out of the corner of my eye, a sight that makes the Taco Bell in my gut do flips.  With a six month wait until the next Viking’s season (possibly Favre-less), I could look at it from an “End Times” stand point and remain bitter about the way a once magical season ended. Instead, I’m going to take the “Electro-Shock Blues” approach and have hope for the future. As “P.S. You Rock My World” says so brilliantly, “maybe it’s time to live.”

If you are not familiar with this song, check it out below (probably one of my top 20 all-time favorite songs). To this day, it still gives me goosebumps:

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