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In this month's [PTt] column, we come back in style, with a jab at MTV, and some reviews and previews of the music trends around us.

MTV Raveout | Reviews and Previews

MTV, Get Off the Air!

     These were the words let loose by Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra on the band's 1985 album Frankenchrist, on the track creatively titled "MTV Get Off the Air," in which the network is castigated as being an endless parade of "muppet shows" sponsored by corporate America and taking all of the danger and creativity out of what could have been a real medium for artists and their fans. This was back in 1985, when at least MTV still was primarily a network devoted to music videos.

     Look at the supposed "Music Television" channel today. First, there is the insufferable show Singled Out, where they take so-called "normal" people and play a college-aged version of the Dating Game, complete with lewd double-entendres. Then, there are the countless Real World clones that constantly clog the airwaves like so much cholesterol. Occasionally, in between the "sports," the BeachHouse, and the constant commercials, maybe -- just maybe -- they will play a music video. And then they only play one, and it's always from the same artists: Oasis, Garbage, and the endless collection of "New Jack Swingers" like R Kelly or Keith Sweat. There is more to music than that, people! MTV has stagnated so badly that is in danger of, and, in fact, is already, loosing viewers. MTV might very well have had to have gotten off the air.

     However, it appears that the "corporate suits" may have gotten their collective heads out of their asses. They finally have scapped their tired "alternative nation" format, and in it's place they have produced a show that finally acknowledges that their are other forms of music out there. What MTV has now is actually a late night techno show. For the first time on MTV, you can hear and see the best-kept open secrets in music: artists like The Chemical Brothers, DJ Shadow, Moby, and Prodigy.

     Also, MTV has launched M2, which has actually been accused of playing music videos 24 hours a day! Unfortunately, right now the network is having problems getting cable systems to carry the channel on their extremely overloaded systems, so as of now it is only availible on satellite. However, this is a promising breakthrough. It seems that MTV is at least attempting to become relevent again. That would be a first since, oh, about 1987.

Kyle Scanlan

Reviews and Previews

Every year, things change. Political persuasions, records in sports, even the underwear of some people. However, one of the best indicators of modern culture is the music. Here, I've done some analysis, and give you my interpretation of 1996's efforts, in addition I've thrown in some predictions for 1997. I've also gotten some feedback from guest writer Stephen Waldorf to round out the categories a bit.

A Look Back...

Best New Artist:
Corey: Fiona Apple
It's been a while since we've heard such soul in 'modern' music, much less from someone so young. Fiona's first effort is clearly worth hearing, and one of the better fresh releases of '96.

Stephen: Sublime
Meshing punk reggae and hip-hop gave us a fresh new sound to enjoy on our radio's. It's such a shame that the lead singer passed on and there will not be a follow-up album.....unless he has a warchest full of unrealeased material (i.e. that Tupac album).

Most Overrated:
Corey: Alanis Morissette
One in twenty Americans owning this album doesn't mean jack -- it merely means that people enjoy hearing screeching and moodswings from a former Tiger Beat-esque "artist". Unfortunately, with this much hype, it's no wonder people didn't realize her lack of knowledge regarding prosaic terminology ("Ironic").

Stephen: Bush
It's hard to believe a band could get this big being so awful. Sure they had a couple okay songs ("Machinehead" & "Little Things"), but constant exposure to them can be fatal. Kyle and I determined that Hell is listening to "Everything Zen" over and over for all of eternity. Can there be any punishment worse?

Most Underrated:
Corey: Barenaked Ladies
This band has actually been quite popular for quite some time -- in Canada. An actual band with talent and diversity evident in their music, they've somehow been snuffed by the American media. I have noticed an increased interest, however... it's just a shame it took a song on the Friends soundtrack to do it.

Stephen: The Artist Formerly Known As Prince ("TAFKAP")
His Highness's latest 3 CD experience Emancipation contains some of the catchiest pop he's made in years. It's a shame that the album continues to slide down the charts and the singles are not catching "radio fire"... although the newest single Holy River may incite a new Prince "Revolution"

Biggest Surprise:
Corey: No Doubt
Out of nowhere, this crew has taken American concert and teen scenes by storm. Not to say that the eye-pleasing Gwen Stefani has nothing to do with this, but regardless, the band seems relatively well-poised to sell even more, assuming they don't radically alter their sound -- a real threat with the recent shuffles in their lineup.

Stephen: No Doubt
Who knew that raw sexual energy mixed with mediocre music could spark the loins of record buying teenage boys so strongly. Someone must have sparked a rumor that there was a nude picture of Gwen inside the cover If record companies could've predicted this, Cindy Crawford would've had a record deal years ago, Charlie the album (Remember the ad with Little Richard)?

Biggest Bust:
Corey: Collective Soul
Ok, what's with these guys? What's the name of their latest album? No one knows. Face it, these guys will be stuck with signs proclaiming "Gel" and "Yeah!" over their heads for quite a while.

Steve: R.E.M.
New Adventures in Hi-Fi is an outstanding record, but for an 80 million dollar record deal, you would expect the record to sell better than it has. As of the last charts it was in the 150's and sliding down. The only good to come of it is that maybe all of the quasi-R.E.M. fans will find a new bandwagon to leap on. I hear Motley Crue is reuniting...

...Predictions for 97

Next Big Thing:
Corey: Ska
Short of the (inevitable) hair metal revival, the ska movement is imminent in the mainstream. It is also one of the only fresh ideas that I've noticed starting to wade its way through the pungent mire of smashed Pumpkins called "al-ter-na-tive myu-zik". With bands such as Goldfinger and The Suicide Machines leading the way, people will once again (or for the first time) hear strains of the t-bone on the radio nationwide. Oi.

Stephen: Techno
I hate to sound like all the rest of the prognosticators, but techno is sure to catch on this year in a big way. The only question is will it be good techno(i.e. Aphex Twin or Moby) or pop friendly enigma-esque crap. Here's hoping that Americans will know Moby as more than just the thing that goes in front of "Dick."

Flash in the Pan:
Corey: Everclear
One of Rolling Stone's faves, I just don't think that Everclear has enough steam to release an album appealing to the masses. Short of making a nude appearance on the cover of RS, I fear their fade to obscurity is waxing...

Stephen: The Offspring
Their newest album this March comes so long after the first that all of their fans have probably moved on to new and better things. Plus the fact that they signed with a major is going to ruin some of their "Indie Cred." Unless there are four or five very good (and catchy) songs in the new mix, I don't see them even being mentioned for much longer.

Biggest Album:
Corey: The Evita Soundtrack
Whitney Houston worked wonders with a remake of Dolly Parton's song on the Bodyguard soundtrack. There seems to be a trend forming here, one where musicians-turned-actresses make a killer soundtrack in the eyes of the consumer. If the (questionable) dance remix on the air is any indication, this album will do way too well.

Steve: U2's POP
Their first "real" record (not counting Zooropa) in almost 6 years is sure to be loaded with enough gems to sell quite a few records. And if it flops be sure to check Verbosity next year because it's sure to be my "Biggest Bust" pick.

Biggest Fade from Glory:
Corey: Tori Amos
As much as I am a fan, and as much as I hate to admit it, I just can't forsee this brilliant musican holding out much longer in the mainstream. Certainly, she'll always have her cult of frenzious fans, but Americans can generally only take so much anger.

Stephen: Snoop Doggy Dogg
I was shocked at how many "beeyatches" snagged his first release considering how lousy it was. The Doggfather is proving to be more of a poodle than a pitbull on the charts. Hopefully all of the punk kids who buy this crap will get a life and find musicians with real talent.

Comeback Artists:
Corey: (tie) Spin Doctors/Poison
Both of these bands have had lousy recent releases, notably Poison, who I don't think has sold a single album since the Bush administration. However, both bands have been doing major reconstruction and have been recording new songs. The Docs have a new label and a newly recovering bassist who had been suffering from CTS. Poison has, well... gotten their original guitarist C.C. DeVille back, and hopefully their heads outta the clouds. Out of the limelight long enough, I think they'll both surprise us a bit.

Stephen: Motley Crue
Going along with Corey's hair metal fetish I say "Why not?" Besides the fact that 2 members of the band now call Baywatch girls "Wife", Vince Neil is back with a vengeance. Now with 2 high quality (read: shitty) vocalists, the band seems perched to become major players in ther biz again. And if the forthcoming album is a failure, at least Vince Neil has a better shot at getting to know Yasmeen Bleeth.

Corey Welton
Stephen Waldorf

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