Making Waves on the Airwaves
In this era of a bullying FCC and far-reaching efforts to make all forms of entertainment conform to some abstract "family-friendly" standard, it's no surprise that the public airwaves are becoming a battleground for conflict and lawsuits rallying against tightening restrictions. Mötley Crüe is suing NBC for violating their right to free speech. After singer Vince Neil dropped the f-bomb during the band's appearance on Jay Leno's show on New Year's Eve last year, NBC's Jeff Zucker publicly stated that the Crüe would never again appear on the network. Mötley Crüe is saying the ban violates their First Amendment rights and hurt their ability to promote and sell their latest album (yeah, that's the reason). Either NBC doesn't know Tommy Lee is in Mötley Crüe or they're making an exception -- Lee's new reality show (which follows him around as he attempts to go to college) is slated to premiere on the network Aug. 9. The band now shares something in common with political whipping boy/martyr Tom DeLay, who's angry with NBC for almost the opposite reason. The Texas congressman is upset with a line on the net's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, whereby a character says, "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt," while investigating the murder of a federal judge.
Elsewhere on the dial, Nine Inch Nails have pulled out of an appearance on the prestigious MTV Movie Awards (airing June 9) after the former music channel raised objections over the group's use of a picture of George W. Bush as a backdrop. In a Web site, NIN mastermind Trent Reznor said, "Apparently the image of our president is as offensive to MTV as it is to me."
If you thought Hollywood stars going into the music biz was a bad idea, wait until you hear what a bunch of jocks do when put in a recording studio. The compilation CD Oh Say Can You Sing? features 11 major league baseball players singing, rapping and playing instruments on a variety of their favorite songs. The Phillies' Jimmy Rollins and the Indians' Coco Crisp offer "original" (we're using the term relatively here) Rap songs, but the rest of the baseball bunch go the cover band route, with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith getting soulful on Sam Cooke's "Cupid," the Marlins' Jeff Conine tackling Pearl Jam's, er, Stone Temple Pilot's "Plush" and Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel providing both drums and vocals on the Goo Goo Dolls' "Broadway." The Reds' congenial Sean Casey gets in on the action as well, singing Toby Keith's "How Do You Like Me Now?" The athletes are surprisingly passable, but, with today's studio technology, anyone who can speak can make a decent sounding vocal track. Just ask Ashlee Simpson. Put it this way -- this is one activity for the players that won't have anyone asking about performance enhancing drugs.
If you're one of those people who thinks that the rise of iPods and Internet music download services are killing the art of the album, you'll be thrilled to hear that the single is in trouble too. At least if the latest chart news out of the U.K. becomes a trend. A ring tone (for those over 30, that's the term for the songs coming out of those crazy kids' cell phones in lieu of the stodgy old "brrrrng") has topped the British singles chart for the first time. Recently released on CD, the "tone" called "Axel F" by something called "Crazy Frog" (apparently it's a wacky animated frog with a small, uncovered penis) outsold every other single in the country, knocking Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" into second place. Take solace, Chris Martin -- though a cartoon frog is more popular than you right now, you still have Gwyneth Paltrow. Maybe the paparazzi will start camping out in front of the frog's apartment.