Thursday, March 09, 2006

Random Music Post

Interesting, "counter-intuitive" article in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd) about the rising English rock band Arctic Monkeys and their attempt to manage their American marketing campaign:

In January, a [band] representative traveled across America to meet with programmers at key U.S. radio stations to deliver a surprising message. He wanted them to take the band's music off the air.

"Normally we have people fly in to ask us to play their records," says Gene Sandbloom, operations manager at CBS Corp.'s KROQ, an influential Los Angeles rock station. "He actually flew in to say, 'We're glad you're excited about the record. But please don't play it yet.' "

The band is concerned that a misaligned hype cycle has done in their recent predecessors as the latest hot rock act from Britain: early fans and critics gush over the band, but the momentum is gone by the time they have an album and tour ready to go. The challenge is bigger for a band that risks being perceived as too English:

Some skeptics also argue that Arctic Monkeys, with their thick northern-English accents and lyrics full of working-class British argot, will never resonate in the U.S. the way they do in their home country. The group's songs, for example, employ slang phrases like "tracky bottoms," which refers to the athletic-suit pants favored by a particular British species of lounge lizard.

Anyway, good luck to them. Another music phenomenon we'd like to note is the brilliant video for Beck's Hell Yes, his current release from Guero. The video is succinctly referred to as the dancing robots video, which doesn't really do justice to how clever and funny it is. Now there is a story to how we first saw this video. Back in early December, the New York Times reported on it with all the confidence of one of their WMD stories:

It took more than a year, but Beck finally found the performers he wanted for his new video: they are about two feet tall, with shining eyes, silver skin and killer moves. Thanks to them, the video for ''Hell Yes'' has been enjoying heavy rotation on MTV2 since its premiere several weeks ago.

We were watching MTV2 before and after this story appeared and never, ever saw the video on it. It required a change of hemisphere to find a version of MTV that was showing it, which is part of the more general tendency for American MTV to not show, like, music, anymore. But hopefully the rest of you can find easier ways to see it. If you can stand the small screen, it's watchable on

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