I just want to go to a place where there are rainbows -¦ -” Mariah Carey, July 2001. Hollywood really lied to us. No lounge rooms amongst the cosmos. No flying cars or domesticated robots, Kubrick-esque visions of deep space or evil computers. Not even a fucking inst-o-matic food reconstructer arrived on the scene to blow our collective minds.
In the year we were told would be marked by the sterile merging of man and machine, New Yorkers are instead using apple pie as comfort food and Michael Jackson is re-launching the concept of charity anthems. Christ, we’ve been so fucking na?.
Reality may have thrown out a light so blinding half way through last year that all the colours of the entertainment world just -¦ washed right out. But pale as rock stars ended up looking after September, a few sad, hilarious, definitive and memorable moments still managed to mark the world of music in 2001.
The year kicked off on a sombre note when US MTV went dark on the night of 10 January, replacing its usually exuberant line-up of conceited video clips and irreverent cartoons with a continuous on-screen scroll listing the names of hundreds of hate crime victims. The tribute ran following the premiere screening of the Anatomy Of A Hate Crime program about the murder of gay Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.
It took a couple of weeks, but things really brightened up later in the month when Michael Bolton was ordered to pay the Isley Brothers $1 million for plagiarising their song Love Is A Wonderful Thing.
Freaky shit went down in February after a pathetically besotted Elton John crawled up on stage with infamous pseudo-homophobic rapper Eminem at the Grammy Awards. (Later in the year Elton was to bullshit a British magazine with a declaration that Eminem was one of the most important artists of our time.) The embarrassing father and son onstage union inflicted more harm on both performers than the very vocal protests launched by gay and lesbian rights groups who were already angry that the rapper had been nominated for four awards.
Still proving that she can fuck with censors’ minds, Madonna got her husband Guy Ritchie to shoot a video clip for What It Feels Like For A Girl, featuring Madonna screwing around in a car, smashing into things and causing varying degrees of injury to those evil things with heavenly willies called males. The clip was deemed too violent by a host of TV channels -“ so the Old Kuntz Home bit got cut, the violence was toned down and bingo, misanthropy was back on the air in March.
Love can be so fickle. In April, Berlin’s Love Parade was banned by the Ministry of the Interior because they claimed the one-million-plus crowd-pulling techno event clashed with another event already registered by opponents of the parade. Later, the UK’s Love Parade was also cancelled after Newcastle City Council failed to get a permit to host the event.
Wizened old smoothie Brian Ferry reformed Roxy Music in May and the band embarked on a 50-date international tour -“ Roxy Music’s first set of public performances in a staggering 18 years. Distortion is informed that whole thing turned out to be pretty cool.
But even cooler in May was news that Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were involved in a car smash that killed Spears and left NSync’s Timberlake in a coma. The two American radio DJs who launched the rumour were subsequently fired. The last thing we expected was us, self-proclaimed morons, to create such a worldwide panic within one hour, one of the DJs said at the time. Panic wouldn’t be the word I’d use.
Courtney Love managed to drag ex-Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic into court in June seeking a declaration that Nirvana’s contract with Universal Music was void and all rights pertaining to Nirvana should revert to her. A 45-song Nirvana box-set including a previously unreleased track by the band was canned as a result. Kurt was Nirvana, Love declared during her victory speech later in September.
The Miami launch of the proposed gayer-than-gay Wotapalava music festival was cancelled in July, 10 days before the event was scheduled to kick-off on a national American tour. A host of technical problems were cited as the reason for the cancellation, as well as news that headliner Sinead O’Connor had to back out of the tour due to family commitments.
And yes, another heart-wrenching tale unfolded in July when it was announced that Mariah Carey had to be hospitalised due to extreme exhaustion. Carey -“ apparently stressed to breaking point due to a gruelling promo schedule -“ broke down in a hotel, started screaming and throwing things around and then unleashed her PR manager’s worst nightmare: she locked herself in her hotel room, logged on to the Mariah Carey website and started to send out what were described as increasingly incoherent messages to her fans. The launch of her film Glitter was subsequently postponed.
Marilyn Manson lived the gay fantasy in August, approaching a 25-year-old security guard during a Michigan performance and rubbing his G-stringed crotch all over the poor boy’s head. He was charged with sexual misconduct for his little indiscretion, but then proceeded to do it all over again to another security guard in December. He faces fines of up to $75,000.
Ugghhh -¦ September wasn’t a good month. First there was the closure of legendary Beastie Boys record label Grand Royal. Then there was the first of two Michael Jackson 30th-year anniversary tribute concerts in Madison Square Garden. Then the attacks. Then the sickly America: A Tribute To Heroes telethon that saw a host of celebrities overestimate their importance to the masses before plans were drawn up for the What’s Going On? mega-celebrity charity single. The Western world had descended into some sort of murderous, 80s-tinged hell and Michael Jackson was its public face.
Yeah, yeah -“ then some stuff happened in Australia in October. Powderfinger won a shit load of ARIA Awards, the highlight being one of their acceptance speeches where Powderfinger’s drummer Jon Coghill singled out Nikki Webster in the audience’s front row and announced how much her outfit was turning him on. The jibe sank spectacularly. Also in October, The Daily Telegraph went to town with the announcement that Savage Garden had split, the tabloid leading their bloated C-demographic readership to believe that the duo’s huge record sales to unenlightened middle American teenage girls indicated that Savage Garden had some sort of deep international significance.
It wasn’t going to stop. Invincible, Michael Jackson’s over-caramelised new album, was let loose in November on a world already in grief. Probably due to tricky record company manoeuvring, the album hit number one, but then went into a very interesting spiral down the charts. It was floundering at something like number 68 after its third week. I think that little scenario spoke for all of us.
I was very surprised. I think you’ll be very surprised too because the quality that is most pronounced is innocence -¦ expounded 8 Mile High movie producer Brian Grazer in December in relation to Eminem’s acting technique as the film’s star. Yeah, well, Mr Grazer, innocence is a term that can be most pliable in its application.