Saturday, December 22, 2007

Best YouTube Music Moments in 2007

YouTube killed the video star.

In 2007, while MTV plugged the umpteenth episode of "Parental Control" and the so-real-it's-fake tragicomedy,"The Hills," video sharing website YouTube raked in record numbers.

According to a Harris Interactive poll, 65 percent of American adults say they have watched a video on YouTube with 42 percent of the surveyed adults making regular treks to the site.

Major labels such as Warner Music inked a library-spanning content deal with YouTube this year, promising the site vids from the Warner vault. But the site's main selling point remained the guitar-strumming everyman and everywoman. These bleary-eyed rubes uploaded teary bedroom confessionals to an ever-growing legion of tubers.

In the spirit of giving, Manhattan Project has decided to dole out a few year-end awards to the best music moments on YouTube.

Best Deceptive Advertising By A Major Label
Hollywood Records' Marie Digby

Marie Digby's harmonically straightforward and cocksure cover of Rihanna's No. 1 hit, "Umbrella" raised a few eyebrows. It's raised almost 4 million eyebrows since its summer debut to be exact.

Framed in a lily-white bedroom, Digby plucks chords with a husker's ease. She's the girl next door, if your life resembled a Hollister advertisement. Call Digby "the Lonelygirl 15 of acoustic-pop."

In September, the Wall Street Journal suggested that Digby was a ploy in Hollywood Records' "astroturfing" campaign to deliver the singer to bigger masses through YouTube. In a blog entry, meanwhile, Digby wrote that the YouTube uploads were a response to a "desperate" lack of promotion from Hollywood Records.

Best Use Of Hand Flatulence
Gerry Phillips' cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody"

The manualism movement is worthy of a cover story in The Believer. Flanked by his hambones, internet "musician" Gerry Phillips was the unlikely YouTube celebrity of 2007 with his moist rendition of Queen classic, "Bohemian Rhapsody." In his fuzzy dark-blue sweat shirt and Hank Hill glasses, Phillips let it rip with a flawlessly spot-on take. In August, Jimmy Kimmel Live featured Phillips on the Internet Talent Showcase segment. Sadly, Hollywood Records wasn't behind this one.

Best Unintentionally Shameless Christmas Parody
The Kings College staff's Band Aid tribute

The Kings College staffers didn't intend to become YouTube sensations in 2007, per se. Their cynical take on the Bob Geldof's altruistic bombast anthem, "Do They Know It's Christmas" complete with mimicry of Bono's hubris, was like finding pixie sticks in our stockings come Christmas morning. It was completely unexpected and offered a satisfying jolt of energy.

Best Unintentionally Funny Performance
Fergie's appearance at Movie Rocks

Ya know ya did. If you've seen the Dutchess' nearly insufferable interpretation of Wings' "Live and Let Die" at Movie Rocks on YouTube, you're not alone. About 20,000 YouTubers watched the wretched four-minute clip, with Fergie's voice sounding like a cat suffering from a seizure. The song itself lurks from amped-up Slash guitar licks to drunken karaoke lounge singer ballads in the course of one measure. Fergie lags the background track, tossing off a thickly coated "Ya know ya did" a few seconds after the phrase is uttered by her backing vocalists. But all is forgiven in the name of the pyrotechnic gods who spray wisps of sparks to the irregular beat.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Assland Chronicles

I always wanted to be good kid. But I liked terrorizing my babysitter much better.

My babysitter, Miss Ruth, was elderly woman with grey hair in a neat bun. She had an affinity for mannish pantsuits and she always smelled suspiciously of saltine crackers.

She really didn’t have anyone in her life. She talked mostly about her cats and found escapism in afternoon soaps such as Another World and Days of Our Lives.

But it was this afternoon that I had found myself in the time-out corner on my parents’ couch. Miss Ruth, fed up finally with my 6-year-old terrorism, had decided to call my father at work. She wanted him to spank me and teach me a lesson.
I couldn’t say in the past that I didn’t deserve it.

There was that time that Miss Ruth allowed me to watch Another World with her bridge team. And instead of sitting on the couch like a good little boy, I decided to mimic the sex scenes displayed onscreen in my Sesame Street playhouse.

I would strip down, completely naked in Sesame Street playhouse’s bright green plastic facade, and would then nestle up beside my Garfield pillow.

“I’ve always loved you,” I would tell my Garfield pillow, gently stroking the smirking cat face as I whispered sweet nothings in its ear. “And I’m never going to leave you, never ever!”

Miss Ruth stumbled upon my bare 6-year-old butt, humping the Garfield pillow.

“Joe, what in tarnation do you think you’re doing?” she asked. She was mortified and suffice to say, her bridge team was never invited back.

Now, you would think that I would be indebted to Ms. Ruth. She mentioned nary a peep about my sexual intercourse with the Garfield pillow to my father.

But again, it was today that I found myself on the couch, awaiting my father’s fists of justice. I had never really been spanked before. My ass was hankerin’ for a spankerin’.

“You’re going to sit there and wait for your father, too,” Ms. Ruth said, peering down from behind her Benjamin Franklin glasses as she glanced over the pages of The Nashville Banner. She wet her thumb and crooked her finger through pages of the Style section.

“No six-year-old child of mine is going to urinate in my Metamucil and expect to get away with it.”

The clock ticked in painstaking seconds. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest, collapsing around my lungs. It was the moment of eminent doom, lurking around the corner.

And Ms. Ruth sat there for every sweet second, leafing through the Nashville Banner as she eyed the clock.

That elderly woman with grey hair in a neat bun and an affinity for mannish pantsuits, that always smelled suspiciously of saltine crackers. She still doesn’t have anyone in her life, a mere 18 years later.

Ms. Ruth now lives in a dingy retirement center. She lost her cat to the mange, so
she rarely has things to talk about. Another World was canned back in 1999 by NBC Daytime execs, in search of that ever elusive “younger” demographic.

But I go over to the retirement home on occasion. I remind Ms. Ruth of the times we shared over a brittle tin can of crackers—the Garfield pillow, Carolyn Crudell and yes, pissing in her Metamucil.

Because to paraphrase her beloved soap, I’ve come to realize a very important lesson in all of this: “No one should live in this world alone.”