Europe Finally Gets Weird
You would think that between the French’s love of American comedic genius Jerry Lewis, the U.K.’s hilariously awful cuisine and Europe’s running gag about how soccer is the world’s most popular sport, someone would have invited grand parody song master “Weird Al” Yankovic overseas to perform. Alas, despite years of online petitions (seriously), never in his almost 30-year career has the Weird one performed in Europe. Until now. Thanks to an invite from hip Post Rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor to play the British ATP festival, Al recently played his first shows on the European continent. Surely this will one day be looked back upon as a pivotal moment in American comedy history. Once they get a load of our wicked Yankee wit, a European explosion of American comedy is inevitable. Carrot Top, Carlos Mencia, Gallagher and Pauly Shore should practice writing “Sir” before their names — a knighting is just a few more renditions of “My Bologna” away.
Signs O’ the Times
Unless you’ve had your ears buried in your Grand Funk Railroad albums for the past 10 years, you know that the music industry has drastically changed in ways no one would have imagined just a few decades ago.
We wish, for example, someone would have told us 25 years ago that there would one day be an easier, more covert way to steal music than stuffing cassettes down our parachute pants. Recently, two developments in the music world showed just how different things have become. On the “death of the music industry” side, there was the announcement of this year’s Grammy nominations and trade group A2IM’s revelation that over half of the artists up for trophies are on non-major labels. Indie label dominance, the rise of single song purchases, the invisibility of the album — it’s like the 1950s all over again! Meanwhile, Billboard has launched a new chart called the “Social 50,” which tracks artists’ popularity by how well they are received on Web sites and social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It comes as no shock that “Cat Plays Piano” has been the runaway No. 1 every week, which immediately led to a label bidding war and network TV deal. Sadly, “Cat” was to catnip what Sid Vicious was to heroin and the feline was found dead in a Fancy Feast-strewn hotel room at the age of 12 (don’t be too sad — that’s 64 in cat years).
Hairdressers of the World Unite
Copyright laws in America have pissed off a lot of “open source” activists and 12-year-old kids busted by their square parents for downloading a Ke$ha track for free. But in France, such laws have enraged a much more crucial element of the population: hairdressers. The country’s more aggressive stance on rights violations — led, in part, by President Sarkozy and his musician wife Carla Bruni — has led to enforcement of new taxes levied against owners of hair salons, restaurants and stores that play “background music” (radio or otherwise) in their establishments. The deliciously named stylists’ union, Fédération Nationale de la Coiffure, led a protest that basically entailed salons turning off their music for a day. The first question during Sarkozy’s press conference following the protest? “What the fuck happened to your hair, Monsieur President?”