March Madness (Round Two)


Rock Music Menu: It’s not about selling the music, anymore

By ANTHONY J. SANFILIPPO , asanfilippo@delcotimes.com 03/05/2004

So I’m sitting up past the witching hour, as I usually do, channel surfing for something — anything — to pique my interest.
Anyway, this week, I was actually intrigued by a three-part special report on ESPN talking about sex and sports and how they’re now intertwined so much, it’s hard to imagine one without the other.

Watching this got me thinking about the same correlation in the world of music.

Then I see Britney Spears opening her Onyx Hotel tour in San Diego, baring a lot of skin — enhanced or otherwise —and according to a VH1 news report she “stripped, gyrated, sweated and flirted” all night long.

Look, I know it’s no secret that sex is used as a promotional tool in our capitalist society, and is used to sell anything from mouthwash to exercise equipment, and although it’s pretty superficial, it works.

So why should we expect it not be used in the same way to boost a music artist’s career?

Getting in the music business is no longer about submitting a tape and getting signed by a major label based solely on the merits of your musical ability. A record label today signs an artist with an understanding that there are several products to be sold, focusing more on the artist’s image, style and by all means sex appeal, never mind the actual quality of their music.

Record labels make boffo bucks off of merchandising their clients’ images. They turn a profit any time they get their star on the cover of a magazine, in a movie or music video. “Exposure and consumer awareness is a key factor that allows labels to up the asking price for personal endorsements, appearances, features in soundtrack albums, etc.,” wrote Larry Mistrot of MusicDish.com

(Maybe this is why Britney continues to blow off the Daily Times. Maybe it’s not her at all, but her greedy promoters looking for a quick buck.)

CD sales no longer drive the industry’s revenue. Instead, it’s selling the person who may or may not be actually writing the music. But they sure look damn good singing it.

Not everyone who is musically talented and has something significant to offer in the creativity spectrum is going to be sexy and attractive.

Unfortunately, those talent-only artists have very few inroads available to them any more. Frankly, there will be very few –if any — Billy Joels or Bob Dylans or Paul Simons in our future, and instead there’ll be more Britneys and Christina Aguileras and boy bands out the wazoo.

All because the sexually repressed North American society is a larger than life version of Pavlov’s dog that will salivate over the first hint of sexual fantasy that is provided when the industry rings its bell.

And as the consumers, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Crosby and son at the Keswick

– David Crosby is back at the Keswick Theatre Saturday night. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has combined his talents with his touring guitarist Jeff Pevar and his long-lost son and keyboardist James Raymond to form the band CPR.

Raymond, who grew up with adoptive parents and never knew the name of his real father until 1992, nevertheless studied music at California State University, San Bernardino, and pursued a career in music. In 1994, Raymond finally arranged a meeting with Crosby. When the two gelled after talking for just a few minutes, they began writing music together. Crosby decided to hire his son as a keyboard player for a 1996 tour, playing Byrds favorites like “Eight Miles High” along with a new Crosby-Raymond composition, “Morrison.”

Tickets are still available at the Keswick box office at $37 and $34.

Rockin’ this way

– Tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. for OzzFest 2004, which will take place on Aug. 26 at the Tweeter Center.

In its ninth year as one of the top-tier summer festivals, Ozzy Osbourne returns with a can’t-miss metal lineup including the much-anticipated reunion of Judas Priest as well as earsplitting acts Slayer and Slipknot. Tickets range in price from $10 to $79.75.

– In other festival news, the Vans Warped Tour will also return to the Tweeter on Aug. 6. Tickets go on sale today at 4 p.m. Among the acts expected to appear are New Found Glory, Coheed & Cambria, Story of the Year, Bad Religion, Yellowcard, Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, Tiger Army and Sahara Hot Nights.

– With her March 31 Wachovia Center show sold out, Britney will make a summer return to the area when she plays the Tweeter Center on July 12. Tickets go on sale Saturday at noon and range in price from $28.50 to $65.

– Tickets also go on sale Saturday at noonfor Fleetwood Mac at the Tweeter Center on June 3. Prices range from $32.50 to $95 for the show featuring four of the five original band members, including the vocal talents of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

And the results are …

Before I give you the breakdown of the first round of the Daily Times Greatest Rock Band Ever Tournament, I want you to know that there are two things I have learned with this interactive experiment.

First, I never anticipated the overwhelming response, nor did I calculate how I was going to tabulate all the votes. Needless to say, most of my week was spent counting votes on a spreadsheet, and my eyesight has officially deteriorated from staring at my screen so long.

Second, I learned that everyone has a music columnist hiding inside his/her mind somewhere. The amount of e-mails I got from people who added their own little comments to each game were amazing. Some of the one-liners were priceless.

And then there were the inevitable complaints as to who didn’t make the list. Like I said, argue with the Recording Industry, that’s where I got the rankings.

So without further ado, here are the results of the first round and the matchups for the second round.

I will again be taking your votes at asanfilippo@delcotimes.com. The deadline to vote next week is Wednesday at 6 p.m.

(The percentage figure next to a band’s name is the percent of the vote they received in the first round)

John Region

1. The Beatles (88%) vs. 9. Simon and Garfunkel (51%) – Simon and Garfunkel squeezed out the tightest first round victory over Eric Clapton, and now face one of rock’s icons in the second round.

5. Metallica (56%) vs. 13. Linda Ronstadt (63%) – Def Leppard had an early lead on Metallica, but then someone rang Hell’s Bells and all the metalheads came out of the woodwork.

11. Guns ’N Roses (79%) vs. 3. Elton John (54%) – Elton struggled with Pearl Jam and faces a similar second round challenge against GNR.

7. U2 (84%) vs. 15. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (85%) – Barbra never stood a chance, even as a No. 2 seed, which leaves us with an intriguing second round contest.

Paul Region

1. Garth Brooks (87%) vs. 8. Shania Twain (62%) – If Shania wins this round, it proves my sex-sells theory.

5. Van Halen (66%) vs. 4. Bruce Springsteen (62%) – The Boss struggled with the well-loved James Taylor while Van Halen struggled with John Denver. I give the edge here to Bruce.

11. Bon Jovi (68%) vs. 14. The Doors (71%) – AC/DC fell hard to Jim Morrison and the boys, which might make them dangerous as this tournament goes on.

7. Santana (81%) vs. 2. The Eagles (99%) – I think R. Kelly bought all his own albums, because he got slaughtered. The one percent that voted for him had to do it on a lark. Otherwise, I worry about those people.

George Region

1. Elvis Presley (96%) vs. 8. Willie Nelson (57%) – Thank you. Thank you very much.

12. Phil Collins (71%) vs. 13. Boston (68%) – We all know this is the equivalent of playing for a consolation prize, right? Do either of these acts stand a chance against the King next round?

11. Bob Dylan (54%) vs. 3. Aerosmith (88%) – Dylan is dangerous as such a low seed, and sooner or later people will realize Aerosmith made more songs after the ’70s that really were awful.

7. Alabama (75%) vs. 2. Pink Floyd (91%) – Impressive victory by the country legends in the first round, disposing of a more well-known boy band, but this is a whole different ballgame against Floyd.

Ringo Region

1. Led Zeppelin (85%) vs. 8. Journey (57%) – “With Open Arms, Delaware County faithfully embraced Journey,” wrote John from Aston, a closet Journey fan. It made me laugh, so I reprinted it.

12. Rod Stewart (78%) vs. 13. Queen (74%) – How much fun could we have with “We are the Champions” if Queen pulls off a stunning upset in this tournament?

6. Neil Diamond (76%) vs. 3. Rolling Stones (59%) – It looked bad for the Stones early as Dave Matthews Band had a big lead, but they rebounded and came away with a comfy victory. As for Diamond, his fan base blew me away. Call me crazy, but he just might win this one against Mick and co.

10. Prince (79%) vs. 2. Billy Joel (96%) – I’m learning more and more that Billy Joel is beloved in Delaware County. The e-mails about him pour in like you wouldn’t believe. This is, by far, the toughest region in the tournament.

©The Daily Times 2004

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