The Music Industry Needs A Time Machine

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Merry Christmas, recording industry

AOL has just revealed its Best New Artists of 2006 list and I haven’t seen this great an advertisement for nostalgia in quite some time. Read it and weep.

01. Ne-Yo
02. Gnarls Barkley
03. The Fray
04. Corinne Bailey Rae
05. Yung Joc
06. LeToya
07. Daughtry
08. Danity Kane
09. KT Tunstall
10. Lupe Fiasco
11. Cassie
12. The Raconteurs
13. Jibbs
14. Kellie Pickler
15. Hinder
16. Cherish
17. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
18. Taylor Swift
19. Wolfmother
20. Brooke Hogan
21. Daniel Powter
22. Lady Sovereign
23. Paris Hilton
24. Vanessa Hudgens
25. Mario Vasquez

Who in the hell are half of these people on the list? I can only recognize a few names on the list — and that’s not something I’m particularly proud of.

23. PARIS HILTON

She failed at helping Brit improve her public image, but this tabloid darling succeeded at surprising even her harshest critics with her catchy debut single, ‘Stars Are Blind.’ Admit it — even you though it was hot.

Yeah, about as hot as her crotch. It’s a sad day when Paris Hilton makes the list of anything that requires actual talent.

22. LADY SOVEREIGN

Don’t let her size fool you. The self-proclaimed “biggest midget in the game” is brimming with attitude and spouts defiant rhymes on command. She scored a record deal with Def Jam after Jay-Z witnessed her freestyle skills first hand, and her ‘Public Warning’ CD quickly became a hipster essential.

The only little person in the game that was mildly entertaining was Bushwick Bill and that was a very long time ago. Jay-Z discovering her isn’t a great way to sell her either. Jay is not much of a talent scout. Don’t believe me? Well whenever your ears bleed at the pain-inducing sounds of Beyonce-clone Rhianna “singing” a ballad, you’ll know who to direct your frustrations and medical bill to.

By the way, “hipster essential” is just a polite way of saying no one bought that awful album.

20. BROOKE HOGAN

When you’re the Hulkster’s daughter, you can pretty much have whatever you want. So when 18-year-old Brooke decided she wanted to be a chart-topping diva, who was gonna tell her no? ‘About Us,’ her debut single with rapper Paul Wall, was one of the year’s most infectious hits and proved that charisma does indeed run in her family.

This sounds more scripted than a pro wrestling match. I saw Brooke’s video. Making awkward faces you think convey sex appeal while performing stiff-interpretations of old Britney Spears choreography charisma not make. Whoever gave Brooke a record deal deserves the same fate her father once gave the Iron Sheik.

19. WOLFMOTHER

Whether you were into the ’70s rock revival or not, you couldn’t deny Wolfmother. The Aussie rockers had it all: the frontman with untamed hair, mind-bending guitar riffs, songs about unicorns and a CD cover that looked like the side of your cousin Chico’s first van. Their CD debuted in the Top 40, their music was featured in an iPod commercial and they were even nominated for a Grammy. Our necks still hurt from all the headbanging.

I don’t know who they are and what they sing, but Wolfmother has got to be the worst band name ever.

17. RED JUMPSUIT APPARATUS

When you’re a 20-something guy, your biggest priorities are most likely music, video games and girls. 2006 brought this Florida alt-rock group a gold debut CD and a spot on the Warped Tour, a track on the ‘Madden NFL 2007’ game and, we’re sure, ton of groupies. Congrats, boys, you’re living the dream.

I stand corrected. There are worst names for a band than Wolfmother.

16. CHERISH

This double shot of siblings suffered a bad record deal in 2003, only to top the charts in ’06 with the snap dance-inspired ‘Do It To It’ and the ballad ‘Unappreciated,’ making R&B-thirsty fans say “Destiny’s who?”

Take Ciara, clone her three times, then dip her in chocolate and you have Cherish.

13. JIBBS

St. Louis boxer-turned-rapper Jibbs convinced his brother, DJ Beats, to lend him a track he originally wrote for another artist. The end result, ‘Chain Hang Low,’ became the most downloaded song on iTunes in August and scored the AOL Breaker a spot next to Chris Brown and Pretty Ricky on the Sceam Tour.

He used a nursey rhyme for inspiration behind one of the most annoying songs in history. The man exudes creativity.

11. CASSIE

Twenty-year-old Cassie proved the marketing power of the Internet when a rough version of her song ‘Me & U’ garnered her a record number of MySpace friends and a recording deal with Diddy, helping the mogul usher in a new era of Bad Boy.

Incase you forgot.

10. LUPE FIASCO

Lupe’s penchant for everything from skateboarding to politics made the AOL Music Breaker, and his bootleg CDs, the most talked-about thing in hip-hop. Now, with his Jay-Z and Pharrell-assisted debut ‘Food & Liquor’ nominated for three Grammys, all of his hype seems very well deserved.

Wow. Someone with actual talent. Though it’s miniscule, I have hope now.

8. DANITY KANE

After three seasons of MTV’s ‘Making the Band,’ the pressure was on for Aubrey, Dawn, Aundrea, D. Woods and Shannon to deliver. Diddy’s girls did just that when their album debuted at No. 1 in August — something Da Band could only dream of. Platinum sales lie in their future.

The clearance version of the Pussycat Dolls turned marked down beats and cliche-ridden lyrics from current hitmakers into a surprisingly decent album. However, without a vessel to sell future projects (Puffy’s recreating O-Town on the next installment of Making the Band), their fifteen minutes are slowly winding down.

6. LETOYA

Just as Destiny’s Child announced their retirement, original member LeToya Luckett burst back on the scene with the breakup ballad ‘Torn’ from her self-titled solo debut. With that hit and its follow-up, ‘She Don’t,’ under her belt, this H-Town chick effectively shut up the haters once and for all.

Go Hiram Clarke. Step your game up, Kelly Rowland.

5. YUNG JOC

Bad Boy’s two-year dry spell ended as soon as this Georgia MC’s debut single, ‘It’s Goin’ Down,’ hit the airwaves. And his platinum CD, ‘New Joc City,’ was just the start; his second album, ‘The Jocumentary,’ is scheduled for release in 2007.

He went platinum?!

4. CORINNE BAILEY RAE

The way she drips her breathy, smooth-as-silk vocals over soulful, feel-good pop melodies, it’s hard to not fall head-over-heels for Rae’s music. The British siren’s self-titled debut reached the Top 20 and earned her three Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year for her single ‘Put Your Records On.’

So I don’t really get the hype with Corinne. I find her to be incredibly boring and the Sade comparisons are absurd.

1. NE-YO

Few artists — new or old — hit harder than Schaffer “Ne-Yo” Smith this year. The 23-year-old’s debut CD, ‘In My Own Words,’ sold over three million copies worldwide and spawned four hit singles, including the irresistible ballad ‘So Sick.’ He also wrote huge hits for other acts — including Beyonce’s ‘Irreplacable,’ Rihanna’s ‘Unfaithful’ and Mario Vazquez’s ‘Gallery’ — and shared the mic with Ghostface on ‘Back Like That.’

23? Ha. In what? Dog years? I’m not a big fan of Ne-Yo, but I guess I should be happy that someone who doesn’t make ProTools sweat in the studio topped the list. Still, Ne-Yo owes me a pack of cotton balls for all the pain “Unfaithful” has caused me.

Under each description for every artist listed is a poll to vote on the artist’s chances of maintaining some level of relevance in 2007. I would say it’d be great if most of these promotions for deafness would disappear, but I realize they’ll only be replaced with people just as terrible.

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