Saturday, November 4, 2006

MINER'S LADY, STRANGER TO BLUE WATER: Thus far, God appears to be strangely biased in favor of coal power, granting a series of unusually lucky breaks to David and Mary. If David were named Joseph, I might even consider their luck miraculous. (Look at me making the easy Christianity joke -- it's like I'm married to a Lutheran or something.) So, marshalling our powers of prescience: what do you think happens tomorrow? Do our West Virginians Kentuckians (damn that John Denver) finally bite the black dust, or will events once again conspire to allow them one more leg of the Race? And will Mary continue her unbroken streak of being the sweetest, kindest, nicest person ever to run the Race (unless, of course, she's talking to her husband, in which case a blazing shrewish streak emerges)?
TAKE THESE LIES, AND MAKE THEM TRUE (SOMEHOW): On the one hand, it features the music of George Michael, and is remarkably well-edited, moving and funny. On the other hand, it's partisan in a way that we just don't do on this blog, except when we do it. So if you want to see a GOTV video that makes me immensely proud of the work I did before the FEC over the past two years, click on this link, but if you don't, that's cool.

In the interest of equal time, the two funniest campaign ads I've seen this season from the other side -- Lynn Swann's "Decades" and "Heads Up" by Christy Mihos.

edited to add: Okay, another citizen-generated one from one of our favorite genres, the movie trailer mashup, regarding robo-calls in the Connnecticut Senate race.
DID I EVER MENTION THAT MY WIFE USED TO REFER TO HER ENGAGEMENT RING AS "PASDAR", BECAUSE IT, TOO, SPENT ITS FORMATIVE YEARS LIVING IN A BOX? The Onion's A.V. Club highlights "15 Lamentably Lost One-Season TV Wonders", many of which are beloved by this blog's readers, including the Judd Apatow shows, "Cupid" and "TV Funhouse" (underaged bichon! Sames Restaurant, where you eat what you are!).
LIFT UP THE RECEIVER, I'LL MAKE YOU A BELIEVER: Our 2006 Keltner Rock Hall series continues with Depeche Mode, eligible for induction for the first time but not among the list of nine finalists.

1. Was Depeche Mode ever regarded as the best band in rock music? Did anybody, while they were active, ever suggest that Depeche Mode was the best band in rock music?

Not in this country, at least. But within the elastic genre of goth-synth-dance-pop, either these guys, New Order or The Cure (if you trended more guitar-based) was your gateway drug, and there was a time when many an adolescent thought that no one understood them quite like DM did.

2. Was Depeche Mode ever the best band in rock music in its genre?

Maybe. My bias runs to New Order, but they never had an album here with the impact that Violator did. Between "Personal Jesus", "Policy of Truth" and "Enjoy the Silence", there was definitely a moment of bigness for the band. Too, in terms of having a physical presence, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore were more there than the New Order boys, but less of a star/cult thing than Robert Smith.

3. Was any individual member of DM ever considered the best at his instrument/role?


4. Did DM have an impact on a number of other bands?

Absolutely, and if you're going to make the case for Depeche Mode it really starts here. They were part of that first big wave of "new wave"/synth-based bands, with "Just Can't Get Enough" debuting in 1982, and they definitely had an impact both in that poppy-dance realm (Erasure, Flock of Seagulls) and the darker stuff that followed, which you can see in bands like Garbage and Smashing Pumpkins.

Culturally, Depeche Mode marks the shift between the American "underground/alternative" scene being focused on American punk/hardcore bands to the wistful yearning for things British -- there's no Smiths cult, no Stone Roses cult in the US unless Depeche Mode and New Order get there first.

5. Was DM good enough that the band could play regularly after passing its prime?

They're still touring now, so, yes.

6. Is DM the very best band in history that is not in the Hall of Fame?


7. Are most bands who have a comparable recording history and impact in the Hall of Fame?

73 million records ain't bupkiss, and this is a band with a lot of hits. In addition to the aforementioned trio from Violator, let's not forget "Strangelove" (pain -- will you return it?), "Master and Servant", "People Are People" (I'll say it again: pain), and "World In My Eyes", among others. Okay, those are the only ones I know.

This is where we get into the Small Hall/Large Hall argument, and it's messy. Because in terms of hits and sales, it's more than what Blondie accomplished, for sure, and Blondie is (for me) the Rube Marquand of this hall. Seriously, if Traffic is in the Rock Hall, if The Shirelles and The Rascals are in, is Depeche Mode really out of consideration?

8. Is there any evidence to suggest that the band was significantly better or worse than is suggested by its records?

Just that this band had a significant and intense (and large) cult following. Depeche Mode was selling out arenas when they weren't getting much radio air play, and, hell, played a lot of stadiums here too. Betcha didn't know that they once sold out Giants Stadium in 1990 with Nitzer Ebb and the Jesus And Mary Chain as warmup acts.

9. Is it the best band in its genre who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

I don't believe New Order is eligible yet, but if The Cure is, it's a close call.

10. How many #1 singles/gold records did DM have? Did DM ever win a Grammy award? If not, how many times was DM nominated?

Three DM albums sold over a million -- Some Great Reward, Music for the Masses and Violator, with Songs of Faith and Devotion falling just short, joining three other albums on the Gold level.

Most of DM's career came before the Grammy recognized separate categories for dance music, and before synth-pop was respected by NARAS. They've only been nominated twice for a Grammy -- a long-form video nomination and a 2002 "Best Dance Recording" nomination for "I Feel Loved", which lost to Janet Jackson's "All For You" (and should have lost to Daft Punk's "One More Time".)

11. How many Grammy-level songs/albums did DD have? For how long of a period did the band dominate the music scene? How many Rolling Stone covers did they appear on? Did most of the bands with this sort of impact go into the Hall of Fame?

A bunch of Grammy-worthies in theory, but hard to match against the lameness of the nominees during most of DM's peak era. One example: the year that "Personal Jesus" was eligible for Song of the Year/Record of the Year, both awards went to Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings", with other nominees being "The End of the Innocence", "We Didd'n't Start the Fire" and "The Living Years" (all nominated in both categories), along with "She Drives Me Crazy" (record) and "Don't Know Much" (song).

"Alternative" bands like Depeche Mode are seriously underrated by this metric.

(Quick insert about the 1990 Grammys: The End of the Innocence topped Lou Reed's New York, Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" and Neil Young's Freedom for Best Rock Vocal Performance - Male. WTF?)

No Rolling Stone covers. Peak period covers 1987-1993, which is well within the range for the Hall.

12. If this band was the best band at a concert, would it be likely that the concert would rock?

If you were a goth or alterna-kid, a DM concert was like a bar mitzvah where they have a cotton candy machine and a photo booth and the dj gave out t-shirts.

(No, I haven't seen them live.)

13. What impact did the band have on rock history? Was it responsible for any stylistic changes? Did it introduce any new equipment? Did it change history in any way?

Arguably yes. See above.

14. Did the band uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

It depends on whether multiple failed suicide attempts (Gahan) are a minus for these purposes, doesn't it? To me, surviving six minutes of clinical death is probably a good thing.

Conclusion: I'm more of a Small Hall guy, so I have to say "no" on this one. If you let in Depeche Mode, then there's a lot of bands with more hits and a decent cultural impact who need to get in, one of which we'll be profiling later this week. My instinct is that of this genre, New Order and The Smiths ultimately belong in, The Cure is a borderline case and Depeche Mode, while borderline, will have to enjoy the silence of being outside.
THUS MAKING IT LESS LIKELY THAT HE GOT IT ON WITH WANDA OFF THE SET: This one, I didn't see coming, in a Neil Patrick Harris statement to People Magazine:
The public eye has always been kind to me, and until recently I have been able to live a pretty normal life. Now it seems there is speculation and interest in my private life and relationships.

So, rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me, I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love.
No one ought to be pushed out of the closet, but nor should anyone feel forced to live there in the first place. That's all I've got.

Friday, November 3, 2006

WE DON'T TALK ABOUT THEM, EVER: Except for this one, over here, that babbles wide-eyed free verse in a tub full of water thickened with cornstarch and gelatin like the future-seer-judge-lady from Minority Report and, oh yeah, flies the Cylon mothership for us. Why don't you get a moment of exposition in with her before we send you off to investigate the crippled Base Star with the enormous moral conundrum aboard it?

Do the "hybrids" exhaust the other five Cylon models? Probably not the whole picture. At least we don't know for sure. Maybe they're only some of them. Perhaps some of them are hybrid with machines and some of them are hybrid with organics. (Yes, I'm still hoping maybe Tigh isn't just chasing hooch-induced hallucinations down the decks of Galactica, but will concede that it's a stretch at this point.) It's got to be more complicated.

Complicated is good though. I love this show for the complicated. And for the explosions. And asskicking. And... Yes, forgive me, for the wide variety of charismatically angry women with knives. The psychotic-but-practical expression Starbuck adopted for her haircut this week was just about the high point of the episode.

Darker and darker for Tigh, it would seem. But towards the light for Lt. Thrace? Hugging the kid you were tricked by enemies of humanity into accepting as your own daughter because you know you're supposed to even though its rightful mother has since reclaimed it from your arms is the first step towards hugging the same kid because you want to in your heart, after all.

Otherwise: Cylons "projecting"? Catching diseases? Fighting amongst themselves like frightened children?

Whatd'ya got? What'd I miss? Thoughts, theories, predictions and paranoid political fantasies all welcome in the comments.
BOND, LAME BOND: I've been lame myself this week on the list front, so I thought I'd throw out this bone before the weekend. With Casino Royale right around the corner, Idolator lists the The Worst James Bond Themes Of All Time, replete with YouTube goodness (if you really want to hurt your head, play all five at once). Personally, I might swap the Madonna track from "Die Another Day" in there for the Garbage song and was anyone else as shocked as I was that Ah-a sang a Bond song?

So, conversely, which Bond theme is your favorite? I'll go with the easy pick, Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger," though I have soft spots for the bombastic "Live and Let Die" and "Nobody Does It Better."
MAYBE THEY CAN PLAN DENNYCRANE'S NEXT WEDDING: Since he only has one show on network TV right now, David E. Kelley will return to Fox at midseason with The Wedding Store, a retooled version of earlier Fox pilot Wedding Album, with the retooling based on DeMarco Affairs, a Kelley pilot starring Selma Blair, Sabrina Lloyd, and Lindsay Sloane that didn't go to series a few years ago about sisters/wedding planners, but which I recall hearing some good things about.
AND WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO ROBERT TOWNSEND, ANYWAY? In an interview with the A.V. Club, Tina Fey discusses the art of standup comedy:
AVC: Did you ever do stand-up?
TF: At a very amateurish level in Chicago. Very safe open-mic nights. More like coffeehouses than actual comedy clubs. But I really admire stand-up, and I think I would have loved to learn how to do it. I think it's terrifying and thrilling. A really cool thing to do. It's a dying art, in a way.
AVC: It's sort of a distinct art form from being a comic actor. There's a great Mitch Hedberg joke about how when you get really good at comedy, they want you to be an actor. 'You're a really good chef. Can you farm?'
TF: Right. It's a separate, special skill. And so many people get into it just to get opportunities as an actor. That's why, when you look at people like Colin Quinn . . . that's their art form. The art form they want to master and are so brilliant at. That's what I think is cool.

Is standup dying, and if so, why? When's the last time you sat down in front of your tv -- or even in person -- to watch someone tell jokes**?

**necessary caveat: The term "jokes" above is shorthand for a variety of live comedy performances. As I've written about in the past, the late 1950s and 1960s saw a marked change in American comedy,
from the world of brash, polished joke tellers to a world where comedians focused on material that was much more personal, more relevant to American lives. from the world of brash, polished joke tellers to a world where comedians focused on material that was much more personal, more relevant to American lives. Stereotypical mother-in-law jokes faded away, increasingly replaced by irreverent satire, political humor, biting cynicism and a more intellectual approach to comedy. As Joan Rivers once observed, "Audiences nowadays want to know their comedian. Can you please tell me one thing about Bob Hope? If you only listened to his material, would you know the man? His comedy is another America, an America that is not coming back."

So when I said "jokes" above, I didn't really mean just jokes. Carry on.
SERIOUSLY, SINCE WHEN DID MY BIRTHDAY BECOME "NATIONAL LET'S-USE-ANTI-SEMITISM-FOR-ITS-HUMOR-VALUE DAY"? Beyond Borat, Tom Shales reminds us that tonight is the Chevy Chase-as-Mel Gibson episode of "Law and Order: Original Recipe".

Thursday, November 2, 2006

FOR THE SECOND TIME IN THREE MONTHS, WE ASK THE QUESTION, "PLEASE, OH PLEASE, CAN THIS MOVIE BE AS FUNNY AS ITS HYPE?" Let's talk about Borat. When is it funny to take advantage of the ignorant, and when does it go too far? Or, put another way, does Sacha Baron Cohen's shtick always work for you?
DIWALI: Samosas and love were in the air in The Office this week, and the results (as often is the case) is that Michael Scott made the move from Life Of The Party to Oh, Poor Michael to Ick! No! in about five minutes. Shall we hop in the back seat of the car to discuss?
PRUDISHNESS SUCKS STINKS: A Romenesko reader wants to know -- is it now okay for the mainstream media to say that something "sucks", or is it still a bit sophomoric and crude?

My instinct? Use it if it's a direct quote, but otherwise, there's almost always a more refined term to use.
AFRICA, LOOKING STRANGELY LIKE THE NORTH SHORE OF OAHU: Watching Lost last night, I was struck by the same thing that strikes me every week: Damn, but that show looks gorgeous in HD. It's like a weekly infomercial for the Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce.

Setting aside the whole "see the individual beads of sweat trickle off the forehead of Donovan McNabb" phenomenon, which shows make your HD investment most worthwhile?
WHEN THEY'RE HOT, WELL DAMN THEY'RE HOT: It's a little unfair for a 36-year old lawyer to Keltnerize Motley Crue. So this rundown was written by my 14-year-old self, a die-hard heavy metal fan and owner of two Crue albums:

Was Motley Crue ever regarded as the best artist in rock music? On the one hand, the Beatles are frequently considered the best band in rock history, and Motley Crue outrocks the Beatles completely. So on that level, they were better than the best. On the other hand, they're not really my favorite band, so no.

Was Motley Crue ever the best band in its genre? Is Motley Crue the very best artist in history that is not in the Hall of Fame? Is Motley Crue the best artist within its genre eligible for the Hall of Fame? They're some guys' favorite band, but that's mostly because of the pentagrams. They're some girls' favorite band too, but mostly just sluts. Plus, Van Halen and Metallica are better. So I'd say that they're the third best heavy metal band eligible for the Hall, unless you count Iron Maiden, in which case they're tied for third. Iron Maiden may be a better fit for the Hall because they write about Egypt and Dune and quote poetry.

Was any member of Motley Crue ever considered the best at his instrument or role? Let's see: Bruce Dickinson, Eddie Van Halen (or Richie Blackmore or Yngwie Malmsteen), Billy Sheehan, Neil Peart (or John Bonham), so no. Actually, they kind of suck.

Did Motley Crue have an impact on a number of other musicians? Yes. For a while, everybody wore makeup, and the Satan thing was kind of trendy. And for a lot of years, they really were trendsetters in the groupie department. I mean, they really lowered the standards of conduct. You couldn't go on the Crue tour bus without a tetanus shot.

Was Motley Crue good enough to have an unusually long career? If you count the hiatus time for rehab, jail, and temporary breakups, they had a really long career. Completely unexpected.

How many #1 singles/gold records did Motley Crue have? They had seven Billboard top-10 albums (though many were before Billboard accurately counted country music), one or two of which were greatest-hits albums. One of the albums, Dr. Feelgood, went to #1, and another, Girls Girls Girls, went to #2. Five Crue albums went platinum or better; three more went gold. Nobody but complete assholes buys heavy metal singles, but there were enough complete assholes to give Crue three top-10 singles.

Did Motley Crue ever win a Grammy award? If not, how many times was Motley Crue nominated? How many Grammy-level songs/albums did Motley Crue have? Grammies are for pussies.

How many Rolling Stone covers did it appear on? Motley Crue was on the cover of Rolling Stone 17 times. No, I made that up, I don't know. They were on the cover of Creem and Circus every other week from 1983 through 1987, though.

Is there any evidence to suggest that Motley Crue was significantly better or worse than is suggested by its records? What does this mean? Yes, there was a reservoir of untapped genius there that you'll never be able to hear, all because Tommy Lee and Vince Neil had a falling-out when they discovered that they have lesions of common origin. That's sarcasm, by the way.

Are most artists who have a comparable recording history and impact in the Hall of Fame? No, because the Hall is totally prejudiced against heavy metal artists. Also, most heavy metal artists aren't quite eligible yet, both because of the timing requirements and the felony convictions.

What impact did Motley Crue have on rock history? Was it responsible for any stylistic changes? Did it introduce any new equipment? Did it change music history in any way? Motley Crue was responsible for repopularizing makeup and hair spray for men, for popularizing the nonpunk use of stupid stage names, for discovering and briefly exploiting a previously unknown and still-poorly-understood connection between cartoon satanism and scoring with chicks (Black Sabbath pioneered the cartoon satanism part, but I don't think they ever got laid; Crue really only did this on Shout at the Devil), and for really committing themselves to the promotion of unadulterated skankiness. I read somewhere that Vince Neil is so diseased that he is incontinent.

If Motley Crue was the biggest artist at a concert, would it be likely that the concert would rock? Only if hell yes.

Did Motley Crue uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame instructs us to consider? Let's see: Drugs: check. Wanton, possibly syphilitic, hedonism: check. Vehicular homicide: check. Domestic abuse: check. Open sores on the neck of drummer: check. A song consisting principally of a list of the band's favorite strip clubs: check. Most popular homemade porn of all time: check. Reality shows: check, check, check. I think that's practically the platonic ideal of the standards of sportsmanship and character one expects of rock and roll.

Conclusion: On the positive side, Motley Crue really was partially responsible for the ascendency of heavy metal as a popular, as opposed to marginalized, form of music in the 1980s. They were very influential within the LA hard-rock scene, which means that, like it or not, they were largely responsible for bands ranging from Cinderella to Warrant to Guns 'n' Roses. They had a long and successful career and are still beloved among a substantial, if dwindling, group of fans. On the negative side, they stunk. So no, they're out.
WRAPPER'S DELIGHT: Just in time for the holidays, rapping paper.
THAT'S OUR HITLER! Rumor has it that David Hasselhoff will be playing the Hitler role in the Las Vegas production of The Producers. Rumor is unclear as to whether he's playing Franz Liebkind or Roger DeBris. I'm sure there's a "Germans love David Hasselhoff" joke there somewhere.
AVANT GARDE MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY, BIATCH: Yup. Good stuff on display on this week's Top Chef. Plenty of drama, and silly, and food too!

But that pointy-headed molecular shznit will get your Avocado & Bacon Ice Cream beat down vs. good ole Cookies & Marshmallows every time, in every zip code from Maine to Florida to Seattle to San Diego. So take that nonsense back to art school please, Teen Wolf, and don't pretend the kid in you didn't know better. Cliff Crooks crowd-appeal ftw again in the quickfire.

Otherwise, on the TGI Fry-Daze challenge I have nothing upon nothing to add. I probably would have eaten it all.

For my money the editorial set-up thus far makes it look like Cliff, Teen Wolf, Betty and Meat Loaf being groomed for long-term character status. Would love to hear what everybody else saw. Would also love to hear how you all sort the low-screen-time types in order of competitiveness. I have my opinions, but I'm feeling to lazy to link them all. You could tell it was over for Emily as soon as they aired her "your four teeth and your huge ass" comment.

Still, I'm never too lazy to poach a link from TWOP, so, while you're considering the contestants' mistakes and ... um ... merits(?), do be sure to peep the Marisa Homepage. ...I'm kind of hoping that's a photoshop farce, but then I feel the same way about most of what I see on CNN.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN: The only parts of tonight's Lost that I really enjoyed were Jack's interactions with Benry and Juliette. The "movie," in particular, was nicely spooky and shivery. The rest? Just didn't do anything for me. And what's up with Mr. and Mrs. Exposition? "What's in the plane?" As though there are people watching Season 3 who missed Season 2 -- and as though there were people watching tonight's episode without bothering with the Previouslies.

In a rare turn of events, Sepinwall and I seem to disagree about this one. So perhaps there's a lively discussion to be had -- particularly about the spoilery things that I'll save for the comments.

1. Was Patti Smith ever regarded as the best artist in rock music?

Possibly yes, but I do not think that would be a consensus view. In 1975, Smith’s album Horses was second in the prestigious Village Voice “Pazz and Jop” poll. Perhaps you have heard of the album that ended up third on that list? It’s called Born to Run.

1975 was an astonishingly strong year for music. Every other artist with an album in the Top Ten in that poll in 1975 is already in the Hall! More than half of the artists in the Top 30 are in the Hall.

Although 1975 was clearly the peak of her critical success, Smith received grades of A- or better from noted critic Robert Christgau on 5 of her 11 albums.

2. Was Patti Smith ever the best band in rock music in her genre?

This question on the Keltner list often gives me trouble. In what genre does Smith’s music belong?

Punk rock? You could perhaps make the case that she was at the top of that genre in 1975, but she would not be regarded as the best punk rocker in any other year. She was among the first American punks to get a record contract.

“Poetic” rock? That’s not really a standard genre, but it seems to fit Smith like a glove and she would certainly be a standard bearer in that genre, given her Rimbaud influenced songs.

Female hard rock? On the one hand, this fits her well since there were very few women in music then who rocked as hard as she did. On the other hand, Smith defined herself as an artist, not a “female” artist. Yet, as notes “in the process, she obliterated the expectations of what was possible for women in rock, and stretched the boundaries of how artists of any gender could express themselves.”

3. Was Patti Smith ever considered the best at her instrument or role?

No, I don’t think that Smith was ever considered the best at her instrument.

If you define “role” to include creating a prototype for women in rock, then you’d have to give Smith a resoundingly positive response to this question (see #4).

4. Did Patti Smith have an impact on a number of other musicians?

Emphatically yes. Her bio on begins “Punk rock's poet laureate, Patti Smith ranks among the most influential female rock & rollers of all time.”

5. Was Patti Smith good enough to have an unusually long career?

If we compare Smith to the typical musician, the answer is clearly yes. If we compare Smith to the typical member of the Hall, the answer is less clear. She had a very strong period from 1975 to 1979. She then had intermittent success with albums in 1988, 2002, and 2004. I think you would have to give Smith the benefit of the doubt on this question, but it’s a close call.

6. Is Patti Smith the very best artist in history that is not in the Hall of Fame?

No. Even among this year’s nominees, many people would put R.E.M. ahead of her.

7. Are most artists who have a comparable recording history and impact in the Hall of Fame?

I think the answer must be yes, but who is a good comparable for Smith? Joni Mitchell? The Ramones?

8. Is there any evidence to suggest that Smith was significantly better or worse than is suggested by her recordings?

Possibly. For about 15 years Smith stayed at home and raised her children, a truly laudable endeavor. From 1989 to 1994 she endured the deaths of her husband, her brother, and several other of her closest collaborators.

9. Is Smith the best artist within her genre who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

Off the top of my head, no other artists within Smith’s “genre” come to mind as being more deserving, but I have not examined this question systematically.

10. How many #1 singles/gold records did Patti Smith have? Did Smith ever win a Grammy award? If not, how many times was Smith nominated?

Smith had NO #1 singles and only two songs that hit any of the charts. She had no gold records. This is clearly the weak point of her candidacy for the Hall.

Smith was never nominated for a Grammy (to the best of my knowledge). I’m not sure we should hold that against her.

11. How many Grammy-level songs/albums did PATTI SMITH have? For how long of a period did the band dominate the music scene? How many Rolling Stone covers did she appear on? Did most of the bands with this sort of impact go into the Hall of Fame?

Smith had 4 very strong albums from 1975 to 1979. She had many songs that received a lot of radio airplay. She dominated the scene during that 4-year period. I think that both the number of her strong albums and the length of time she dominated the scene are probably below average if we compare her to other members of the Hall (but see # 8 above). Nonetheless, for the reasons set forth in #1 and 2 above, I would say that most of the bands with the sort of impact Smith had go into the Hall of Fame.

12. If Patti Smith was the best artist at a concert, would it be likely that the concert would rock?

Damn straight. The site says she was “a powerful concert presence, singing and chanting her lyrics in an untrained but expressive voice, whirling around the stage like an ecstatic shaman delivering incantations.”

13. What impact did she have on rock history? Was she responsible for any stylistic changes? Did she introduce any new equipment? Did she change history in any way?

See #2, 3, and 4 above. Let’s just say that the Pretenders might appreciate what Smith accomplished.

She did not introduce any new equipment.

14. Did Smith uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

See #8 above. Smith is full of integrity and kindness. That counts for a lot in my book.

I count 8 positive answers and only 2 clearly negative ones. Smith merits inclusion.

"Here I go and I don't know why
I spin so ceaselessly
‘Til I lose my sense of gravity"

Those words say as much about the power of desire as anyone ever has in pop music.

SPOILER AHOY! The NBC sweeps press release contains interesting spoilers for The Office, Heroes, Friday Night Lights, and Studio 60, including a very interesting special episode of Heroes at the end of sweeps, a much-anticipated decision (yet rather nonsensical business decision) on The Office, and perhaps an answer to how they're going to cut down the budget on Studio 60.
JACKET REQUIRED FOR INDUCTION: As part of our continuing effort to discuss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, each of us has agreed to Keltner-ize a nominee or potential nominee. It's my privilege (and I use that term exceedingly loosely here) to analyze the merits of an induction for Phil Collins as a solo artist. This is purely directed to Collins as a solo artist, and contains minimal, if any, references to his work with Genesis.

1. Was Phil Collins ever regarded as the best artist in rock music? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that Phil Collins was the best artist in rock music?

I'm sure someone at some point suggested that Phil Collins was the best artist in the world. They would be incorrect.

2. Was Phil Collins ever the best artist in rock music in his genre?

See #1 above.

3. Was Phil Collins ever considered the best at his instrument/role?

No. While he's consistently been considered to be a talented drummer and decent vocalist, few (if any) would give him the accolade of being one of the greatest drummers or vocalists ever. Minor points are scored for the relative novelty of being a drummer/vocalist.

4. Did Phil Collins have an impact on a number of other bands?

I think this has to be given as a "yes." While the "followers" list in AllMusicGuide lists almost no other notable bands, Collins really created "Adult Contemporary" as a genre, and a number of his songs have become staples (e.g., "Against All Odds").

5. Was Phil Collins good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

Depends on when you consider his "prime" to be. Arguably, his prime is 1985, with No Jacket Required, and Collins has continued to play to sold out large crowds regularly, both with Genesis (through 1996) and as a solo artist. He's continued to play and generate hits and awards since. I think this is a "yes."

6. Is Phil Collins the very best artist in history that is not in the Hall of Fame?

I think not.

7. Are most bands who have a comparable recording history and impact in the Hall of Fame?

Hard to say, since Collins is really the parent of the "Adult Contemporary" genre, so most of his progeny are not yet Hall eligible. However, given that Genesis is not in the Hall (and seriously, you'd think that either Genesis or Peter Gabriel would go in), the answer to this one has to be "no."

8. Is there any evidence to suggest that Phil Collins was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his records?

Yes. Although Collins has had a (surprisingly) longlived career and an impressive statistical record, there's no question that he and his music are the butt of much joking and ridicule, especially in more recent years--witness this review of his recent effort on Broadway. This factor weighs against induction.

9. Is Phil Collins the best artist in his genre who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

No, though this is arguable, since much of his "genre," which I'd consider "adult contemporary," is not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame.

10. How many #1 singles/gold records did Phil Collins have? Did Phil Collins ever win a Grammy award? If not, how many times was Phil Collins nominated?

Solely as a solo artist: 1 diamond album (No Jacket Required), 7 Platinum albums (....Hits, Face Value, Serious Hits...Live!, Hello I Must Be Going, But Seriously, Both Sides, Tarzan Soundtrack), 2 Gold albums (Dance Into The Light, Buster Soundtrack), 7 #1 singles ("Against All Odds," "One More Night," "Sussudio," "Separate Lives," "Groovy Kind of Love," "Two Hearts," "Another Day In Paradise"), 7 Grammy awards and 25 total nominations, 1 Oscar, 2 Golden Globes. A powerful statistical case there weighing in favor.

11. How many Grammy-level songs/albums did Phil Collins have? For how long of a period did Phil Collins dominate the music scene? How many Rolling Stone covers did Phil Collins appear on? Did most of the bands with this sort of impact go into the Hall of Fame?

Well, in addition to the #1's charted above, "Take Me Home," "Something Happened On The Way To Heaven," "Dance Into the Light," "In The Air Tonight," "Easy Lover," and the "You Can't Hurry Love" and "True Colors" covers even now get radio play from time to time, and "In The Air Tonight" would probably make a top 50 list of enduring artificacts from 80s pop culture. 1 Rolling Stone cover (1983). The statisitical record and list of individual hits would seem to be Hall of Fame worthy.

12. If Phil Collins was the best band at a concert, would it be likely that the concert would rock?

While Collins has had two successful live albums, the concert would "rock" in a strictly adult contemporary way.

13. What impact did Phil Collins have on rock history? Was he responsible for any stylistic changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change history in any way?

The introduction of "adult contemporary" as a genre and Collins' extensive use of synthesizers are both of note, but not significant enough to support, on their own, Collins' induction.

14. Did the band uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Breaking up with his wife by fax is a negative point. Collins' consistent charitable work is a minor tick in favor, but not so substantial that it matters. However, looking at the rest in the Hall, I think this is a neutral factor.


Despite a powerful and substantial statistical case in favor of induction, Collins' work lacks sufficient artistic merit, as measured by the negative answers to questions 1-3 and 6-9 on the Keltner list, to warrant induction as a solo artist, though if Genesis' work is considered as well, Collins may be competitive.
THE CURSE OF MYKELTI WILLIAMSON: You know how NBC said they'd be airing 13 episodes of Kidnapped so as to give closure to the small number of devoted fans? Well, not so much. In completely unrelated news? J.J. Abrams will be directing an episode of The Office for February sweeps. No word on if it will begin with Pam tied to a chair in some form of lethal danger (likely involving threats from Dwight) followed by an abrupt flashback cut to earlier to explain how we reached this point.
CALIFORNIAAAAAAAAAAAAAA: I'm about halfway through the Season 4 premiere of The O.C., and from what I can tell, killing off Marissa was more than just a season-ending-Mischa-Barton-eliminating stunt -- it looks to be a reworking of the entire show. It's five months later, and everyone's dealing with their own personal grief differently. (Julie Cooper-Nichol-Cooper-Roberts's reaction is particularly priceless, as is the depiction of student activists at Brown.) I gave up on the show sometime last season out of general boredom (really, did anyone care if Matt got beaten up?), but based on the little I've seen so far, I'll be back on Thursday nights.
DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS, PEOPLE! I figure folks might want to take time to discuss last night's House, which was 2/3 awesome (the David Morse stuff and "who's banging the nurse?") but 1/3 not (the "case of the week"). The lack of awesomeness for the case of the week stemmed largely from Foreman's WTF? inducing speech at the end of the episode of "OK, but it's not really wrong!" and the awesomeness from the nurse plotline stemmed less from the actual plotline than from Cameron's "I'm hitting that. And it's so hot." (both Morrison's delivery and Laurie's reaction to it were priceless). What'd y'all think?
A DAY ON WHICH WE HONOR BOTH CRAIG "IRONHEAD" HEYWARD AND SPINAL TAP'S LEAD SINGER: It's All Saints Day, so, go ahead . . . name a favorite saint or two.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

IT MIGHT JUST BE THE MAD COW: Leaving aside the sermonizing (which is generally well-written and which I mostly find myself agreeing with), is anyone else bugged by how Boston Legal has become "The Jerry Espenson Show?" Sure, it's nice to see Abel Koontz getting work, and I liked his initial arc as much as the next attorney, but must every week be "Jerry Espenson does something wacky and gets into trouble?" Also, was tonight's plot point involving Michael J. Fox's character a coincidence or a deliberate political move?
BUT WHO WILL REMIND US TO HAVE OUR PETS SPAYED AND NEUTERED? Bob Barker will be retiring from the Fabulous 60 Minute Price Is Right in June. I'll absolutely be TiVoing Bob's farewell. Share your favorite Barker moments or suggest your preferred Barker replacement (dollars to donuts it's Todd Newton, who's been hosting a licensed version in Vegas for a number of years now).
HE SHOULD HAVE GIVEN HIM ACES AND EIGHTS: Weird little episode of Heroes. Confirmation of our (and others') speculation about the pixie, one storyline that would have been a lot more fun if not for the spoliers in the previews, and only three heroes (or villains, I guess) using their powers. No First Officer Agent Officer Weiss, no Nathan Petrelli, no Deep Cleaner (tm TwoP), plenty of Ali Larter's gym-toned abs. One question: when Peter and Niki eventually meet, does that mean that Peter is going to develop the temporary super-power of mirror-image blackmail super-sex with his brother?

Which reminds me, at a diner this weekend I saw two women with "Nathan Petrelli for Congress" t-shirts. I am moderately confident that I could have come up with a better campaign slogan than the one printed on the back of the shirts: "I've got nothing to hide."
YOU CALL THIS ARCHEOLOGY? Sadly, Prof. Henry "Indiana" Jones has been denied tenure.

Monday, October 30, 2006

FEELING PRETTY PSYCHED: The 2007 nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are Chic, The Dave Clark Five, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, R.E.M., The Ronettes, Patti Smith, The Stooges, Joe Tex and Van Halen.

Now, I'm a small-Hall guy, so I don't know that anyone other than R.E.M. would receive my vote. My anti-Flash vote is largely on the basis of the fact that if the term "rock and roll" is to have any meaning, it's got to respect some boundaries and leave hip hop to its own space. (And the first hip hop inductee should be Run-DMC, in any event.) And none of the rest achieved enough greatness to make it, though Van Halen comes closest. I'm more intrigued by some of the newly-eligible-but-not-nominateds: Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Mötley Crüe and Phil Collins all deserve some consideration. (You're eligible if you started recording in 1981 or earlier.)

A list of the current inductees is here. Bob, is it time for some Keltner tests?
FEATURING THE ALOTT5MA SINGERS AND DANCERS! We've jokingly suggested this in the past, but in a preliminary gauge of interest (especially since I know people's holiday calendars fill up early), I'm interested in seeing how many folks would be interested and willing to attend an ALOTT5MA Chrismukwanzakahsolstice party at an undisclosed location in Manhattan on the evenings of December 2, 9, or 16 (Saturdays). If you're interested, let me know in the comments, and we'll see if something might happen.
MARKED, AND REPRISAL? We just got back from our fifth-anniversary trip, and while it's a day late, there's perhaps still something to be said about last night's Race, especially for those of us still stubborn enough to believe that the road from Kuwait to Mauritius lies in the Emirates or India, not Heathrow of all places. (Were the Groanies still there?)

A simple question of race strategy, really: if every other team has shifted to Task B, and you know it doesn't involve something in which you're better than other teams (really -- much though we like them, what are David and Mary good at?), aren't you obligated to stay where you are to have the only shot of passing your rivals? Especially if it involves, y'know, digging, which presumably is a task with which coal miners are accustomed? Had they been Philiminated last night, it would have been wholly deserved.
THIS PRESENT DARKNESS: Not that I don't love the extra hour of sleep that this weekend's switch out of Daylight Savings Time provided, but is it just me, or is it seriously depressing that (at least in NYC, and in the eastern part of most time zones), it's pitch black by 5:30 in the afternoon on your average day after DST goes away? This means that even when I'm working "normal" hours (pshaw!), it'll be dark by the time I leave the office.
KATHRYN MERTEUIL'S REVENGE: For those of you who care about these sorts of things, Reese "I've Got An Oscar Now!" Witherspoon and Ryan "What Happened To My Career?" Phillippe have apparently split. Witherspoon and Phillippe met on the set of ALOTT5MA fave Cruel Intentions, and it was all downhill from there for Phillippe.
FOREVER...AND EVER...AND EVER: Just in time for Halloween, Retrocrush weighs in with its truly inspired 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of all time. Plenty of the stuff you'd expect from Psycho, The Shining, Jaws, and Poltergeist, plus some unexpected picks from Willy Wonka, Deliverance, and Dumbo.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

MY ACHY BREAKY HEART JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND: Sure, Timberlake has the current #1 single on iTunes, with most of the rest of the Top 10 being an odd mixture of rap/hip-hop (Akon, Ludacris, Fergie, Yankovic) and quasi-emo (Hinder, Snow Patrol, My Chemical Romance), but what strikes me as odd is that Hannah Montana has 8 different songs in the Top 100. Fergie has 4, but that includes both the clean and dirty versions of both "London Bridge" and "Fergalicious," Timberlake has 4, but that includes both clean and dirty versions of "SexyBack," and Nickelback and Rascal Flatts have 3 each (including Rascal Flatts' surprisingly long-legged "Life Is A Highway" cover from "Cars," which has been a top 100 fixture since June). I'm not particularly tuned in to tweenage culture (I still haven't seen High School Musical and have never seen a Hilary Duff film or owned a Hilary Duff album), but, faithful readers, am I missing anything in Billy Ray Cyrus' return to pop cultural prominence?