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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

MTV. Not Just For Hormone Fueled Reality TV Anymore

Good morning-ish, Solid State. As promised, here's a post about music! I know, I know. I'm as shocked as you are. Anyway, this particular cyberspace brain-dribbling is from Seven Days very own Office Manager and all-around swell gal, Bridget Burns. And it's a good one, so perk up, dammit!

Take it away Bridget . . .

Has anyone else noticed MTV’s recent tactic for promoting new music?

Oh, no one here watches MTV? Everyone is much too hip to be bothered with back-to-back episodes of The Hills? You’ve got to be kidding me. There’s no way you’re so hip you can go a full day without knowing at least one more possible culprit of a sex tape rumor. I got that shit on my Netflix.

In any case, it seems everyone’s favorite youth marketing brigade has decided on a new musical assault tactic in which they adopt one band at a time for intense over-promotion. They call it their “Artist of the Week.” I call it . . . awful.

The first “Artist of the Week” I noticed was Paramore, the devout-Christian power pop foursome that adopted a camping theme for their week in the spotlight. During each commercial break, there they were, singing around a campfire, searching for a beach, playing boomerang with drumsticks or talking to a fake bear. The featurettes were supposed to pique my interest in the band, but they pretty much just made me do this:

“Wait… what?”

Since noticing “Artist of the Week,” I’ve witnessed the same weird mix of live performances, music videos and bizarre skits by several other bands, including two of my personal favorites, Rilo Kiley  and Tegan and Sara.

And that’s when it started to bum me out.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for bands finally getting the recognition they deserve. I’ve never been the type of fan to let go of a band as soon as a major label picks them up.

But there’s something depressing about a band making it big because of guerilla marketing tactics. “Artist of the Week” basically slams a band down your throat with such repetition that you wake up humming its songs and buy the CD with a glaze of Kool-Aid on your eyes. Sort of in the vein of Burlington’s own “Buzz Cut.”

And why should a listener buy the new Tegan and Sara CD just because they saw some skit of the duo driving through seagulls in a Toronto parking lot? I mean, shouldn’t the fact that they are lesbian Canadian twins be enough?!

Good thing there’s been good post-season baseball to distract me to another channel.

Oh, SNAP! You guys totally thought you were going to read an entire music blog entry without mention of the Sox! Yeah, right. Like I could possibly utter more than two sentences to anyone without gushing about how Jacoby Ellsbury is so totally my new husband.

Wow, I’m not even bummed about MTV anymore. Jacoby, baby, you do the trick every time.



nice post! I don't get cable, so I am currently immune ot MTV and most marketing via the tube, but I feel your pain!

plus, Teagan and Sara are pretty swell. And I was listenign to the new-ish Rilo Kiley yesterday and that's a pretty strong album, too!

I wish I'd thought up using a drumstick for bomerang! does it work?


Mistress Maeve

I'm totally with you Bridget.

Although, I must say — I like the bit where Tegan and Sara are talking about New Kids on the Block and one of them says something like, "I had the poster of Jordan taking his clothes off. I wanted to be him."

Love that!

Finally, MTV is representing something other than some hetercentric gender binary.

Oh, and Brody is HOT. And Whitney. And I hate Spencer.


It's a fine line to walk. On the one hand, Tegan and Sara and Rilo Kiley are both pretty well respected in indie circles. And with good reason: They're great. But on the other hand, MTV is the Devil.

You could make the argument that at least MTV is making good choices with the bands they're hyping. If kids are gonna be brainwashed, it might as well be by sweet, sweet Jenny Lewis . . . sigh. And it's not such a bad thing that new audiences are being exposed to good music. But the issue is really MTV's tactics.

To me it seems like a direct response to the music industry's failure to combat the threat of independant music on their bottom line. If you can't beat 'em . . .

It doesn't take a genius — thankfully — to figure out that at some point, MTV and the like were going to commandeer their slice of the indie pie. That they would do it so clumsily should surprise no one. After all, this is the outlet that spawned Carson freakin' Daly.

At the same time, artists always have a choice. Somewhere along the line Rilo Kiley signed on the dotted line, possibly in blood. Didn't they read Faust in high school?

The reality is that the term "indie" is about as meaningful as "alternative" or "punk." Like any genre label that at one point implied an approach or value system, the word now infers little more than style. As such, anyone, even major label bands can play "indie" music. And they can even get the uniform at Urban Outfitters. How convenient!

I guess the point is that music should be judged based on its own merits, regardless of where you first hear it. The hope would be that kids experiencing Tegan and Sara for the first time on MTV would have the same reaction many of us likely did when we were exposed to it under less glitzy circumstances like a friend's car stereo or a college radio station.

Sadly, I have very little faith in the general public's ability to discern taste. But a guy can hope, right?

Mistress Maeve

Errr... heterOcentric. Heteronormative? Heterosexist?

Someone who's smarter than me, help me out.


I dunno, I feel like you sort have to get whatever promo you can these days. Yeah, the internet is the new blah blah, but whatever, TV gets great exposure, especially bastard MTV. And is it worse than what they made bands do in the sixties? Well... allright, maybe. At least they're doing something with music again. God, I miss 120 minutes and Headbanger's ball. Remember the Fixx? And that video with the Goonies in it?


Do you mean "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper? That was as rad as the movie "Rad," which was totally . . . um, rad.

Speaking of which, what ever happened to Captain Lou Albano?


captain lou died a number of years ago - my grandfather was his highschool football coach at one time (seriously) and one time later one Lou threw a guy out of the ring right at my grandfather!

I wish I'd met him!



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Hey! Capt. Lou was also Mario on the super mario bros. show. That blows my mind.

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