The Crawling Ear: Ten inexcusable instances of rock n’ roll bullshit in ’08

James signs off the Crawling Ear column for the year with a look back at the last twelve months..

Mr Barack Obama

Yes, my flock, the list-making virus has infected me. I am sorry you have to witness this. It is a disgusting metamorphosis few can stave off. If it’s any consolation, my entire body aches like I got steamrolled by twelve Undertakers.

A whole lotta rock n’ roll bullshit went down this year. Here now, the ten most inexcusable instances of musical dickery, chicanery, absent-mindedness, and flat-out new jack stupidity.

1. Chinese DemocracyThe Waterworld of rock is finally delivered, and it’s more moist and bloated than Kevin Costner’s nutsack after fourteen hours in a dunk tank. Axl’s soggy cracker of insanity couldn’t be delivered like a normal record, of course; it was sold exclusively through Best Buy, a retailer with more class but far less reach than the AC/DC-approved Wal-Mart. The real shot through Rose’s Nike’d foot, though, was the exclusive MySpace stream of Chi Dem that ran seventy-two hours prior to the CD’s physical release. Buyers stayed home in droves after sampling gooey piano wrecks like “This I Love” and “If The World.” The icing on this stale hard rock cake? Dr Pepper’s website crashed from lack of bandwidth on November 23rd, rendering their “free can” promo just another illusion Axl used to feed his appetite for (self) destruction.

2. Bellygate Sexism is alive and thriving at Roadrunner Records, where cabaret punk Amanda Palmer faced a head-slapping row over her “Leeds United” video. The label wanted to edit/alter a few shots of Palmer’s stomach they felt could “be more flattering.” Ironic, considering the fact that most of the dudes in the metal bands on Roadrunner are so fugly beyond Thunderdome that even the most EXTREME EXTREME makeovers couldn’t bring them within half an hour of flattering. Anyway, Amanda told her RR bosses to get real and leave the video alone. They complied, but later condescended/sideways complimented her into a complete rage; Palmer asked to be dropped from the home of Slipknot. The home of Slipknot refused. You must read Amanda’s blog entry detailing the entire affair. And I foolishly thought macho industry bullshit couldn’t exist within the label that currently brings us Sammy Hagar.

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3. Metallica Skips Out On Mixing Death MagneticThis one seriously gave me a fucking aneurysm. Reports began surfacing shortly after the release of Death Magnetic in September regarding the over-compressed nature of the record. The new Metallica album was mixed so loud, it seemed, that natural noises were clipping and distorting. Of course, Metallica wouldn’t know anything about this – they weren’t even in the goddamn country when Death Magnetic was being mixed. Conference calls with producer Rick Rubin “got the job done” for them; unfortunately, many true fans aren’t happy and are calling for a re-mix of the album (which, strangely, suffers none of the compression problems in its Guitar Hero version). Says Lars, “I’m rich, go away.”

4. Beckygate Some old fart at their record label objected to the violent lyrical imagery, so “Becky” and three other tunes were yanked from boisterous Tennessee punk outfit Be Your Own Pet’s sophomore effort Get Awkward. I’d understand if “Becky” outlined an elementary school blood orgy complete with wild-eyed felching and Angry Pelicans, but singer Jemina Pearl wasn’t saying anything your average fourteen year old girl hasn’t thought at least once in her middle school life. This incident plus a tumultuous spin on the ’08 Warped Tour and the requisite internal struggles was enough to sink Be Your Own Pet; the band broke up six months after the release of Get Awkward. Regarding Warped Tour, Pearl had the quote of the year: “ I just associate [Warped] with…the kind of kids that were dumb-asses wearing Rancid t-shirts who thought they knew what punk rock was and threw things at people in the cafeteria… all those bands have this very specific look and sound and style. It’s like the new hair metal or something.” Echoes my thoughts exactly.

5. Mark Prindle Appears On FOX News Where were you when you first heard the news that gonzo Internet rock critic Mark Prindle, the granddaddy of web music reviewing and extreme Bush basher, was now making regular appearances on Republican stronghold FOX News? It’s not just that every single snippet of programming on Rupert Murdoch’s Liberal Murder Machine is more obnoxious than Steve Urkel on ‘roids; Mark’s color commentary on what was “up” in the music world was sadly uninspired, flatly unfunny, and occasionally mortally painful. Perhaps I’m being a tad defensive because Mark spent a large chunk of his first guest shot ragging on “Weird Al”. Still, I’m not the only one slightly unsettled by Mark’s nascent TV career. Quoteth Steve Albini, “ It’s dangerous to presume what any of us would do in another’s shoes, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t appear as a feature on FOX News if they bought me a house and a car for each segment. They don’t print money big enough to get me to associate with shitbags like that.”

6. Everything Kanye West Did The reason Axl Rose didn’t do anything all year leading up to the release of Chinese Democracy is because Kanye West was taking care of all the crazy rock star shit for him. Photog smashing, late stage crashing, all caps bashing – KW was bein’ more Axl this year than Axl’s been in the past ten. If West’s ego wasn’t the size of Texas, if he wasn’t constantly comparing himself to the Beatles and Elvis and Colonel Sanders and Henry Ford and whoever the hell else he compares himself to, I might admire the insanity. As it stands, though, I can’t take anybody who makes “Get In The Ring” Rose look humble.

7. “Obama Who?” To be fair, rapper/habitual dog abuser DMX was too busy committing crimes and dodging warrants all year to keep up with the news. Still, to be a black man in America and openly admit you have no idea who Barack Obama is? That’s really something. During this XXL interview, X couldn’t wrap his head around Barack Obama’s name (“What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.”) let alone his presidential aspirations. In the same piece, the “Party Up” rapper makes the bold assertion, “I don’t recall being excited about a new rapper ever.” So the question remains: just how much meth did X ingest before opening his mouth for XXL?

8. Weezer’s “Pork & Beans” Video Not only stunt-casted, but stunt-casted with Internet celebrities. And I thought they couldn’t go any further into family-tainment after that one with the Muppets.

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9. Rivers Cuomo’s “Let’s Write A Sawng” Having apparently just discovered YouTube, Rivers Cuomo started his own channel on the video site and invited Weezer fans at large to help him write a “sawng”. Aside from overuse of phrases like “tight” and “rad” and gratuitous shots of his newly-minted cookie duster, Rivers also found it necessary in these videos to alter his voice in annoying and obnoxious ways (much like fellow YouTube phenom “Fred”). It took Riv and his pals six months to complete their “sawng” and, to the surprise of no one, it sounded like a forgotten Weezer b-side.

10. The Singer From Tokyo Hotel’s Hair So unnecessarily offensive.

Ok, I think the bug has run its course. No more listies for me – unless there’s money involved. You know I can’t turn down that coin. I’m all about the Roosevelts!

Well, that’s it for the Crawling Ear this year. Thanks for reading, folks. We’ll be back in ’09 with more stuff.

Check out the Crawling Ear every Wednesday at Den Of Geek. The last Crawling Ear can be found here.