This week in the challenging world of getting government-approved public displays erected to honor hometown heroes with dubious personal habits takes us to Aberdeen, Wash., and St. Louis. In Kurt Cobain’s hometown of Aberdeen, city officials decided against naming the bridge under which a young, homeless Kurt slept in honor of Cobain, reportedly after community concerns that it would “glorify” drug use and suicide. As if fathers driving over it will all now turn to their sons and say, “Play Rock & Roll and do drugs every day and someday, son, maybe you’ll have a bridge named after you … once you’ve killed yourself, of course!” Meanwhile, officials in St. Louis had no problem dedicating a new statue honoring a man once accused of secretly videotaping women using the toilet. Oh sure, Chuck Berry was also a key figure in the formative days of Rock & Roll and probably deserves to have that big arch named after him. But, as they might say in Aberdeen, “What message does this send our children!?”
Battle for the ‘Throne’
Kanye West and Jay-Z were recently sent a message from independent record stores— please, sirs, may we sell your music and make you even more money? A coalition of stores signed a letter to the super-duo asking them to reconsider their deal with Best Buy to sell their much-anticipated Watch the Throne exclusively for about two weeks before other retailers may have the privilege. The indie shops say the early exclusives hurt already beleaguered “brick-and-mortar” shops by killing demand. Sure, a letter might touch their hearts and make them remember how important record stores were growing up. Or maybe Best Buy will just ship Kanye a diamond-encrusted washer/dryer combo with built-in surround sound to seal the probably already quite lucrative deal.
Rapper T-Pain wins the “Wait, That’s An Onion Headline, Right?” award this week for suing the makers of Auto-Tune, the studio effect designed to fix slightly pitchy singers but, when manipulated, creates the “robot voice” sound so done-to-death in Hip Hop, R&B and Pop the past few years. It’s the kind of tacky gimmick so overused it will make it easier for musicologists to date songs 5,000 years from now. The rapper has — willingly — become synonymous with the effect, but now he’s trying to distance himself from the product because he wants the world to hear his natural voice, a miraculous, operatic instrument of wonder and beauty. Just kidding — he wants Auto-Tune’s makers to stop using him to promote their product because he has his own coming out. Given that “The T-Pain Effect” (and microphone, presumably with the effect built in) is being released as the Auto-Tune craze coughs its final breaths, the biggest customers will probably be the makers of Kidz Bop albums and the inevitable Fruity Pebbles commercial where Fred goes all T-Pain and Auto-Tunes his family’s breakfast options.