Archive for June, 2010
My favorite show is back and I had no idea it was happening! Behind the Music is a television series on VH1 that originally ran from 1997 to 2006, before it was stopped and only aired new episodes sporadically. The show was resurrected on September 10, 2009 and aired profiles on Lil Wayne, T.I. and Pink. Each show focuses on a musician or musical group, documenting both the successes of the musicians and the problems they faced during their careers.
What I always liked about Behind the Music was getting the real story about musicians. The show humanized them regardless of whether or not being on the show was a P.R. move. Mostly the show was about bands or musicians who went through some serious tragedy and had some serious baggage. Whether it was drugs, alcohol, divorce or a fight with a label, these shows told the story. Some would say that Behind the Music glamorized the rock and roll lifestyle while others thought it was a window into the subject’s background.
The most recent episode of Behind the Music profiled Courtney Love who is the perfect candidate because she has had more ups and downs than one would think was possible. The two-hour episode talked about Love’s parents who were too into drugs to raise her, Love’s time as a stripper, her anger and rage that turned her on to rock and roll and of course her relationship with Kurt Cobain.
“I get shit because I’m the only woman left standing,” Love said.
Although Love’s out of control behavior has earned her the “crazy bitch” reputation over the years it’s possible that she is hated because people speculate that she killed Kurt Cobain or maybe it’s because she says exactly what she thinks or maybe it’s the fact that she always took copious amounts of drugs. There is no question that she has said, worn and done some insane things but there is also no question that she is talented. She is hated and loved because she can’t keep her mouth shut and was an addict for a long time.
During the show she said that she had so much rage and that it could only be controlled by rock and roll.
“My ambition is unwavering but I can be terribly self-destruction.”
For those of you reading this who hate Courtney Love (and I’m assuming that’s the general consensus) I am not writing about her to change your mind. She has done way too many things to get people to hate her with over the top comments and generally obnoxious demeanor. That being said, as someone who generally prefers male singers to female singers, her aggressive sound was always interesting to me. And she can play her guitar very well. Love is so angry and she uses music as her outlet so I can’t even imagine what kind of monster Courtney Love would be if she didn’t have rock and roll.
With all her turmoil Love also apparently had a lot of insecurities like her nose which she had done several times. I found it almost funny that she got nose jobs since it’s so stereotypically something that girls like Love would never do. She was also very self-conscious about becoming a famous musician and not being in anyone’s shadow. Her issues worsened due to a Vanity Fair article written about Kurt and Courtney questioning their drug addiction and ability to be good parents. The article also questioned if the couple was the next John and Yoko or the next Sid and Nancy.
Although Kurt and Courtney fought for custody of their daughter Frances, Cobain was more of a mess than anyone could have imagined. He overdosed several times, was in constant pain due to his stomach issues and battled with being so famous. That, coupled with his heroin addiction, led to his demise. On April 8, 1994 he committed suicide with a shotgun and contrary to popular opinion, Love was in an L.A. rehab center when she heard what happened.
Hole’s next album, eerily titled Live Through This, was a huge success which led to the media speculating that Love killed Cobain. Two months after Kurt died, Hole’s bassist overdosed on heroin. Soon after, Hole hit the road with a new bassist and, while on stage, Courtney would scream at the audience and act like a crazy person who should have been recovering not performing. The photos of her taken during that time are devastating.
When Love landed a role in The People vs. Larry Flynt and earned a Golden Globe nomination it looked as though she had cleaned up her act. Released in 1998, Hole’s Celebrity Skin went platinum and Love seemed to be back on top. In the early 2000’s she overdosed on oxycontin and lost custody of her daughter. History was repeating itself. On the 10th anniversary of Cobain’s death she hit another low and went to a psychiatric ward. Her 2004 solo album America’s Sweetheart was critically slammed and after coming inches away from facing prison time she finally got clean. In April of this year Hole released Nobody’s Daughter which has earned very positive reviews. Love said the album is for Frances who is now a beautiful teenager and looks so much like Cobain it’s scary.
Although these days going to rehab seems like par for the course for actors and musicians, for Love, who has been in and out more than a handful of times, rehab saved her life. She admits she made mistakes and that she is an addict. That being said, throughout her entire Behind the Music interview she was clear-eyed, well-spoken and emotional. True to form she also chain-smoked and cussed her way through the whole thing.
Whether or not you are a fan of Courtney Love (or Hole) she very much holds an important place in rock and roll history. The fact that this is the longest blog post I’ve ever written indicates (to me at least) that her ups and downs and relationship with arguably one of the most influential musicians ever makes her matter. She is a nightmare and a great musician all at once; she is interesting and a cliché at the same time. She is, whether we like it or not, rock and roll.
Tomorrow (June 25) will mark the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death and I honestly can’t believe how fast time flies. It seems like it was last week that the Internet was flooded with the news that one of music’s greatest performers had left us. I remember going home and staring at the television for hours watching all the tributes and old videos on MTV and VH1. It was so great to see MJ back on those music channels but so sad that it was because he was gone.
June 25 is also my Dad’s birthday which is interesting since his photos of MJ are some of my favorites. I remember talking to my parents the day Jackson died and they told me a story about running into him and his brothers on Bourbon Street in New Orleans in the late seventies or early eighties. My Dad, always ready with his camera, took a photo of my Mom with MJ. My parents have countless great music stories but this one was one of their best for sure.
To commemorate MJ’s death there will be slew of specials honoring the man that gave us incredible dance moves, showed us that transforming from kid star to pop icon is possible and reminded us that fame comes at a price.
Here are a few of them in case you want to tune in:
CBS: The Early Show (Friday, June 25, 7-9:00 a.m.) The entire 8 a.m. hour, billed as “The King of Pop: One Year Later,” will see Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez, Julie Chen & Co. hosting a special tribute performance by James Morrison in London. Also on hand will be guests Christina Aguilera, Marc Anthony and Smokey Robinson, who will share what Michael Jackson’s music has meant to them.
CNN: Michael Jackson—The Final Days (Friday, June 25, 8-9 p.m.) CNN’s Don Lemon talks with Jermaine and Tito Jackson about their brother’s death and drug abuse. Also on hand is Jackson crony Dr. Deepak Chopra and famed choreographer Travis Payne, who shares details about working with Michael Jackson on preparations for his “This is It!” tour.
MTV: Michael Jackson’s Top 10 Video Countdown (Friday June 25, 5-6:30 p.m., Saturday June 26, 8-9:30 a.m.) MTV determines MJ’s Top 10 videos based on the number of views each has received on MTV.com. The special features running text commentary, Jackson’s VMA performances, and rare interviews he granted MTV.
MTV: Michael Jackson’s Influence on Music (Friday June 25, 6:30-7:30 p.m.) A compilation of videos featuring top music artists discussing Michael Jackson’s influence on their work.
TV Guide Network: Gone Too Soon (Friday, June 25, 9-11:00 p.m.) Ian Halperin, New York Times’ No. 1 bestselling author of Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson, spent five years researching Jackson and declared in December 2008 that the King of Pop had only six months to live. He was only off by one day. Halperin directs this documentary about the factors that he believes contributed to Jackson’s untimely death.
When you think of summer movies you might initially think of blockbuster flicks like Armageddon or Transformers, or maybe even Independence Day. But if you think really hard about the quintessential summer movie a little musical from 1978 called Grease might come to mind. Starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing and Jeff Conaway, Grease is a timeless story about two high school kids who fall for each other over the summer only to end up back at the same school without knowing it. Danny and Sandy fall into two completely crowds and the fun begins.
So why is this movie so adored by everyone who watches it? The story has all kinds of cheesy lines and it seems like people break into song every few seconds but it’s still a classic. Maybe it’s because the songs are actually good (although I always fast forward through “Hopelessly Devoted To You”) or maybe it’s because John Travolta is incredibly talented or maybe it’s the chemistry between Travolta and Newton-John that makes it so irresistible.
Apparently it’s not just a fan favorite because according to the critics, the movie was a hit. It received five Golden Globe Award nominations in 1979. It was the highest grossing movie of 1978 and the highest-grossing movie musical at the time, surpassing 1965′s The Sound of Music.
The movie’s soundtrack was a number one album in many different countries. The song “You’re The One That I Want” was released as a single prior to the film’s release and became an immediate chart-topper. Regardless of my thoughts on the song, “Hopelessly Devoted to You” was nominated for an Academy Award (1979) for Best Music – Original Song. The movie’s title song was also a number-one smash hit single for Frankie Valli.
Despite the critical acclaim I’m still trying to figure out what makes Grease so good. Maybe it’s because it’s relatable on many levels to all kinds of people. Those who grew up in the 1950s and the 1970s feel the nostalgia, people who love music can sing along to favorites like “Greased Lighting” and “Summer Nights,” and anyone who ever experienced high school knows how important cars, booze and your reputation are when your 18 and under.
This summer Grease is hitting theatres again and I think the masses will pay to see the movie that has held up over three decades. If it’s playing in your city or town I’d recommend going, especially if you have any old school drive-in theatres that are still functioning. During one scene in particular you might feel like you have a starring role.