Stores Are Blind
Paris Hilton's campaign to convince the world that she should be famous for things other than being a statue that goes to parties came to the music world when her debut CD was released last month. While those of us with good taste and high-functioning bullshit detectors simply sat back on our couches and scoffed, a couple of artists took action against her assault on pop culture. Rascally British graffiti artist Banksy teamed with Danger Mouse (famous for his work with Gorillaz and Gnarls Barkley) for the best music-related prank of the year (besides Hilton's actual album). In nearly 50 music stores in England, the twosome replaced 500 copies of Paris with new versions that featured Danger Mouse mixes and new CD artwork from Banksy, who replaced Hilton's body on the cover with a topless beauty and superimposed commentary in the liner notes like, "Every CD you buy puts me even further out of your league." We especially enjoyed the new song titles on the front cover sticker: "Why Am I Famous?" and "What Am I For?" The prank received a lot of attention but not a lot of outrage from the stores involved. A spokesperson for pranked retailer HMV practically applauded the duo's efforts, while a rep for the Virgin chain was quoted as saying it was "a very good stunt." For a cool behind-the-scenes look at the prank, check out banksy.co.uk, which features a link to a YouTube clip chronicling their adventures.
We can only pray Kevin Federline's entrée into Hip Hop is next in line.
Being treated far less good-humoredly is a project from DJ/musician Clayton Counts, whose "The Beachles" project -- a somewhat clunky collaging of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's and The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds -- caught the attention of the music blog world recently. It also drew the attention of EMI/Capitol, who represent The Beatles' publishing interests. Despite claims that he's made no money on the project, Counts says he received a cease-and-desist letter from EMI's lawyers threatening to sue him "big time" and demanding the IP addresses of those who streamed or downloaded the mix. At his Web site (claytoncounts.com), Counts published a highly entertaining rant about the legal harassment, where he questions exactly what harm his project could possibly do to sales of two of the biggest albums in recorded music's history. Though he has obliged the suits by taking down the mix, Counts says he's prepared to go to jail and doesn't back off of calling them "thought Nazis" (among other things). More likely, the matter will pass and Counts might be able to one day thank the controversy for his career. The aforementioned Danger Mouse's successful career was kick-started by a similar, name-making lawsuit over his infamous The Grey Album, which deftly mixed The Beatles' music with Jay-Z's.
Goodnight (Again), 97X
The seemingly charmed, nine-lives existence of 97X WOXY appears to finally be coming to an end. The former Oxford-based terrestrial radio station -- which was an oasis for cutting-edge Modern Rock in the Tristate area for 20 years -- survived the 2004 sale of the station to become an online-only music outlet thanks to some anonymous donors. As an Internet radio station, fans around the globe could check out the "Future of Rock & Roll" on their desktops and the station's sterling reputation seemed to grow, as the music press continued to lavish 97X with praise for its unbeholden-to-corporate-interests playlist. Earlier this year, the station asked listeners for support, the lack of advertising revenue resulting in a switch to a subscription format. Apparently it wasn't enough to keep things afloat; a statement posted at woxy.com says the station will go dark this Friday at 5 p.m., barring another miraculous intervention by new investors/buyers.