Chasing Nashville, a new docu-soap debuting tonight on Lifetime, made me mad. Then sad. Then bored. It's the reality show trifecta.
First off, this isn't really a show about Nashville. It's a show about "Nashville," and young singers from Appalachia who dream of making it there. The hourlong program follows a group of aspirants who have absorbed enough industry lingo — "showcase," "producer," "total package" — to consider themselves on the direct periphery of superstardom. All they need is a tiny crack in the door. (Enter a reality TV producer.) The premiere showcases the first round of a singing competition for teen girls at the annual HillBilly Days in Pikeville, Ky.
We have certainly entered a new era in the reality genre — the tropes are so ingrained that production companies think success comes from simply pressing the right buttons: dramatic pre-commercial-break tension builders; backstories accentuated by soft-focus camera, idle walks to nowhere and stares off into the middle distance; sassy confessionals; easily digested personality types; tiny moments of genuine intrigue teased relentlessly through the episode and, of course, a cast willing to play the game and look terrible in the process.
Did you hear the big, crazy news from Clarksville? Two grown-ass adults were busted for being bare-assed outside of a bar, and the arresting officer "believed they were preparing to have sex, the warrant said." I would like to believe that they were preparing for some sort of crazed, full moon-inspired pagan ritual, but odds are that the happy couple was just trying to get their proverbial rocks off. Why this involved getting all-the-way naked before getting all the way home is beyond me, but who am I to judge another person's sexual needs and/or desires? If their mugshots are any indication, these folks were in need of a good bonin', and I guess their impatience is a bit understandable.
That said, what do you guys think they were listening as they writhed, nude as the day is long, underneath the US41A bypass before being scooped up by the loving embrace of Johnny Law? I posit my theories after the jump.
Now, our resident grumbling audiophilic misanthrope Sean L. Maloney penned the following Critic's Pick for tonight's show. The pick, as you'll see, is less a critical stamp of approval and more a bit of misdirection followed by a pretty solid burn. Read it really quick:
Let us, for a moment, discuss the brilliance of Joseph Fidler Walsh. He was the best damn thing that ever happened to the Eagles. Why, you ask? Because he’s the best damn thing that ever happened to humanity, that’s why. Have you ever heard the James Gang? No? Please turn in your rock ’n’ roller card and board the bus to Chode-ville. Are you some sort of Lumineers fan or something? Grow a pair. James Gang destroys all comers, and Walsh’s solo records are the finest classic rock relics of the late ’70s. Shit, “Life’s Been Good” is not only the weirdest song on classic rock radio, but it’s also the only one that has not and never will get annoying. If we were in charge of classic rock radio, it would be the only song on classic rock radio. Plus the man is immortal, a god among men, and cannot be killed by mere booze and hard drugs. Wait, this isn’t a Walsh solo show? Why is this a pick? The Eagles fucking blow. Maybe Walsh isn’t perfect after all. —Sean L. Maloney
OK, first of all, hahaha. Second of all, damn it — "Life's Been Good" will now be stuck in my head for the remainder of the day. We might as well listen to it together after the jump. And then, I have a couple of questions to ask you.
It was pretty much like a date, except for all of those other people eating with us. Kenny was hanging with the fine folks of industry educational nonprofit Leadership Music as part of their Off the Record series, in which legends talk to LM alumni in an unfiltered, intimate setting. So yeah, like a date.
Anyway, I was trying my best to tear myself away from Rogers' baby blues long enough to scribble down all of the nuggets of wisdom that the man was dishing out with a side of Mediterranean lasagna and mixed greens. So here's a recap of life lessons from Kenny R., aided by the equally legendary Gerry House.
Down in the Music City, it sure ain't sunny, so we'll roll with punny. When we checked our calendar this morning, while pouring an appropriately large cup of ambition, we couldn't help but notice that it is, in fact, 9/25 (read: 9-2-5). That means it's time for a salute to one of the most skilled singer-songwriters to walk our planet: Dolly Rebecca Parton. She's also one of the most successful, and it honestly couldn't happen to a nicer lady — besides having the brains, the looks and the luck, Ms. Parton also has a keen interest in philanthropy, championing one of my favorite causes, literacy (for more on the Imagination Library, take a peek at Susannah Felts' 2010 interview).
As if that weren't enough, she owns a popular theme park complex and her signature curves have adorned a pinball machine — all the more reason to love us some Dolly. Music editor D. Patrick Rodgers did a swell roundup of the media blitz when Parton's memoir came out last fall, and Michael McCall did a great in-depth review of her 2009 career-retrospective box set.
Her latest project is a duet with Kenny Rogers on the title cut from his forthcoming record, You Can't Make Old Friends, reprising their roles on the 1983 Beegees-penned hit "Islands in the Stream." Take a look at that, and a few other choice cuts tracing Parton's rise to power, after the jump.
Little Billy Samuels’ head was bouncing back and forth between the fists of Taz and Tater, his tormenters. Billy, an otherwise inconspicuous youngster, seemed to have the kind of skull that drew fists the way metal is drawn to a magnet. His face was the flame and boots were the moths. His body was Paula Abdul and the beatings were MC Skat Kat. He got beat up a lot, is what I’m saying.
“C-c-c-cut it out, yous guys!” Billy managed to cry without cleaving his tongue in twain. “I ain’t done nuttin’!”
“We hate you because you are different!” the bullies cried in disconcerting unison, the way a heavy-handed short story from the 1950s would do to symbolize Communism. “You are gay or we think you are gay, or you are fa,t or you wear too much green, or you are poor or black or any of the other reasons bullies do their bullying!” said the future morning-show DJs.
Many people in the music business, including myself, take extreme pleasure in complaining about "the state of country music." The usual gripe is that all the songs on the radio sound the same, or that they're all about the same thing. In order to test the latter claim, I looked at the lyrics of the Top 20 Hot Country Songs (according to Billboard on Sept 10, 2013), and I examined the extent to which they are "the same." The results are after the jump. You can judge for yourself.
There are three things worth keeping in mind as you read. First, of the 18 performers on this chart, only one is a woman (excluding Pistol Annies, who are featured on Blake Shelton's "Boys 'Round Here"). Second, in the summer, country radio loves its summer songs, so the lyrical similarity may be spiked a bit by this. Third, there are a small number of songs on this chart that are very dissimilar to the others. I considered giving scores to songs based on their similarity versus dissimilarity, in effect, rewarding the most "original" songs. But the point here is not to give shame or praise to any single song, but rather to consider how similar they happen to be to one another. Moreover, judging a lyric's originality based on its relationship to 19 other songs would be ridiculous. All right. Here we go.
This week's big news in Nerd Land is that Icelandic grindcore outfit Sigur Ros is going to be appearing on Game of Thrones. Yippee! Or yawn, depending on your opinion of the not-actually-grindcore art-pop outfit. I personally am more in the yawn category than the yippee one, but I'm holding out hope that they'll all get decapitated at the end of the episode, lutes in hand, their simultaneous excretal expulsions sounding not dissimilar to an old Throbbing Gristle bootleg. One can hope anyway. Since it looks like GOT is going to be on for some time, I'd like to politely suggest a few Nashville artists that would make fine additions to the show's cast in future seasons. Please note that none of these suggestions have anything to do with talent and everything to do with my ability to make funny pictures.
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