by Taylor Kingsbury
This week, there are two items I want to address, both from the Oct. 17 issue of Rolling Stone.
First on the docket, we have the people versus Britney Spears.
The fading pop princess has joined forces with the Recording Industry Association of America, and will appear with several other equally non-artistic artists in a series of commercials urging consumers to fight the evils of internet piracy.
Nelly, DMX, Missy Elliot and Mary J. Blige are among the artists joining Britney in the campaign.
Britney should have learned by now that talking is not really suited for her talents, but she spouts off on this issue in her traditional mindless fashion.
Britney claims “when people go on their computer and take your song, it’s the same thing as going into a freakin’ store and taking your CD.”
Let me explain something to you, Britney. I work in a record store, and I know first hand that there is a huge difference between a scumbag who tries to run out the front door with a product in their pocket and the innocent consumer who downloads a song to get an idea of whether or not to invest in a full-priced CD. People in this first group are called criminals, and the latter group of people are known as your freakin’ fans.
So Britney, why did you allow theaters to show trailers for your miserable film “Crossroads?” Weren’t theater patrons stealing a little piece of your movie? This hurt you much more, especially when you consider that anyone who saw that trailer probably had the sense not to see “Crossroads.” The trailer in question was also available for download on several internet film sites.
Why are the loudest critics against free downloading always artists who are already making multiple millions of dollars a year? Britney could buy several small countries with her check from Pepsi alone, so I hardly think her finances are in any sort of upheaval as a result of downloading. How many outfits do you need, Britney?
The fact is, downloading is a publicity tool that the RIAA has only begun to realize the potential of. If someone likes a song they download, or if someone likes multiple songs, they will go buy the record. It seems pretty simple, and this is something I see at work every day. Downloading only hurts artists if the music is bad, so in Britney’s case, I can see why she might worry.
In summation, to Britney – don’t talk anymore; it makes you a lot less attractive. And to the RIAA, do you really want someone who thinks Elvis was from Vegas fighting your battles?
In a related story, Dashboard Confessional’s resident whiner Chris Carrabba actually said something intelligent. Opposing Britney’s stance on downloading, the cheese-monger revealed, “I don’t care how anyone gets my record. If they can’t afford it, they can get it for free.” This is an alarmingly refreshing statement from the lead singer of a fad band who should be clamoring for every record sale he can get. Cheers, Chris. Now, stop playing those awful self-pity anthems and you may yet earn some artistic credibility.
Finally, a Rolling Stone reader’s poll reveals what many have suspected for quite some time: people who read Rolling Stone are idiots.
The list of the Top 100 albums of all time, as chosen by RS readers, is ripe with boneheaded selections. Of course, such a list is always going to be interpretive, as personal opinions will vary depending on the individual, but the group of readers who came up with this one missed the mark severely in many respects.
Case in point, the inclusion of records that have been out less than two years, or in the case of “The Eminem Show,” No. 24, less than six months. The Strokes’ “Is This It,” No. 57 and Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory,” No. 58 also placed strongly, leading this critic to speculate that these readers really did not take their task all that seriously.
Two years is hardly enough time to ascertain the artistic and cultural impact of an album, and claiming that these two albums are better than Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy,” No. 84, Soundgarden’s “Superunknown,” No. 80, or Prince’s “Purple Rain,” No. 66, is both foolish and unrealistic. Neither Linkin Park nor the Strokes have yet risen above one hit wonder status, and they should not even be mentioned alongside landmark albums like these.
The same goes for Weezer, who are a great band, but entirely undeserving of having all four of their studio albums in the top 100 of all time. Can we honestly say that four percent of the best music of all time was made by Weezer? I think not.
And why is there no hip-hop on the list? Surely, watershed records like N.W.A.’s “Straight Out of Compton”, Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic,” or my personal favorite, Pharcyde’s “Bizarre Ride II” deserve recognition for their mastery of and impact on the genre. Not so, according to Rolling Stone readers.
How did readers fail to mention modern classics like Nine Inch Nails’ “The Downward Spiral,” Jane’s Addiction’s “Nothing Shocking,” and Portishead’s “Dummy?” Why did two Metallica albums make the cut when Iron Maiden’s “Killers,” the album Metallica stole their sound from, was not mentioned?
Why did marginally interesting works like Garbage’s “Version 2.0,” No. 92 and Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet,” No. 96 make the cut? And will somebody please tell me how Mariah Carey’s “Daydream,” No. 69 even got mentioned?
With glaring omissions and a shocking lack of musical knowledge behind this list, Rolling Stone has created a list of essential records that is anything but essential.
The bottom line is there is not a single record, or 100, that can uniformly speak to everybody.
The best record of all time is the one that makes you, personally, feel like a god when you hear it.
When you find that perfect record, who really cares what anyone else thinks about it?