Multi-talented producer and musician Labrinth is set to release his debut album, Electronic Earth, next month. I interviewed him for Topman GENERATION magazine. Check it out here
Who would have thought that an asexual 24-year-old, with a penchant for ripping off some of the most seminal artists in music history and creating crap Europop dance tracks, could restore MTV’s iconic reputation for championing cutting edge and captivating promotional videos?
Michael Jackson’s videos are often credited with helping define the MTV generation. Pic courtesy of Pittsburgh Post Gazette
This years’s MTV Video Music Awards, which took place in Los Angeles, united the crème of pop princesses, hip indie rockers, dance music darlings and those in between, to celebrate the previous year’s music videos.
In a some what sedate affair, compared to last year’s embarrassing ‘Imma let you finish’, something extraordinary happened.
Dressed in muted meat number, Stefani Germanotta accepted the Moonman for the prestigious Video of the Year, and crowned off a stellar evening which saw her dominate the award show, collecting eight gongs for categories such as Best Female Video and Best Pop Video for her number one single, Bad Romance.
Gaga’s wins has projected her into a league where company includes A-ha and Peter Gabriel, and her nine Moonmen cements her standing alongside iconic MTV idols like Madonna, Janet and Michael Jackson and Prince.
With the VMAs dedicated to promo excellence, MTV’s questionable output of music videos on its numerous stations has led many to wonder out loud: “Why have an award show, dedicated to videos, when you don’t play them?”
MTV’s output has dramatically shifted in the last five years; the Kurt Loaders and Martha Quinns of yesteryear have been devastatingly sidelined. Gone are the TRLs, Selects and audience participation shows; the probing interviews and gather-round-the-TV-for-a-groundbreaking-first rarely appear; but far more disturbing is that the heavy rotation of chart climbing music videos and innovative promos are a thing of the past.
In its place, we’ve been force fed a cocktail of highly potent reality-based dramas (The Hills, The City, Laguna Beach, Jersey Sh…Zzzz) and fly-in-the-face-of-common-sense docu-soaps (the wonderful visual birth control that is My Super Sweet 16) and one-off programmes to the tune of current teen fads and trends (16 and Pregnant. 17 & Pregnant. 18 & Pregnant et al).
My enduring golden age of MTV will always be from 1998-2000; at an age when I first discovered music and when multi-channel TV was gaining speed, MTV was a treasure trove in which I eagerly delved into; to uncover the past, rummage around in the present and anticipate the future.
Glossy and slick US R&B videos sat along side futuristic candy pop promos, extravagant and extrovert hip hop videos, hauntingly autobiographical rock clips and emerging and experimental dance music videos.
US imports like YO! MTV Raps, House of Style, The Real World, Singled Out and its award show strand helped cultivate MTV’s reputation among Generation X.
Total Request Live (TRL) became a noughties pop culture phenomenon; huge stars, be it from the pop, rock or R&B genres, passed through Viacom’s Time Square studios to connect with their fans.
Once there. they would marvel at the gigantic posters made by adoring admirers who congregated in their droves to catch a glimpse of their idols.
Some would début much-anticipated videos and chat with host Carson Daly about their lives and careers, whilst the active audience at home would call up to request videos on the now iconic countdown.
It catapulted the celebrity of these artists to stratospheric heights. In an age before reality TV, musical talent shows and even the internet, their music videos acted as inspirational sticks of candy for kids to devour and savour, to be left in awe and wanting more.
Gaga’s mean feat made artists and audiences alike make a collected sigh of relief; the power of the music video has been reaffirmed.
No award show should be dominated by one artist, but what this year’s VMAs proved is that the competition was not there.
Let’s hope that over the next 12 months, we can switch on MTV, be surprised, amused, shocked and intrigued, and ultimately, be reminded of why MTV is such an era defining phenomenon.
♫ Micheal Jackson – ‘Thriller’
Gone are the days when you could get by with just one job alone.
It’s not enough to earn a crust working 37.5 hours a week. Soaring rents, rising taxes and inflated bills means you have to be savvy about how you keep your head above the water.
From cleaners to cloakroom assistants, to bookkeepers and bar staff, never have we worked so hard to put food on our tables and roofs over our heads.
And especially in the creative media do people hustle harder than their contemporaries; with journalism and fashion being shamelessly hijacked by the unimaginative and untalented, it’s harder than ever to make an honest living, especially if you’re a photographer.
But what happens if you have it all? The career, the wife and numerous successful business ventures? Surely you’d be grateful for the fruits of your labour, right?
No, not unless your name is Shawn Corey Carter.
“Please, no pictures.” Jay-Z live @ Coachella 2010. Photo taken from flickr user, ‘chickswithguns‘
The multi-million dollar rap mogul, founder of Roc Nation and former president of Def Jam Records, is following in the footsteps of other over-inflated egos by controlling his image and stealing from the mouths of hardworking snappers.
Photographers at the recent Wireless Festival were reportedly asked to sign away their copyright in exchange for the right to photograph the rap superstar.
*Read the full story over at Press Gazette.
For those not down with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988:
-Copyright can subsist in an original photograph, from which an image by any means is produced which is not part of a film. By default, the owner of the copyright in the photograph is the person who creates it – the photographer.
-However, where a photograph is taken by an employee in the course of employment, the first owner of the copyright is the employer, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
-Like music and performance, copyright in a photograph lasts for 70 years from the end of the year in which the photographer dies. A consequence of this is that many family photographs which have no market value, but significant emotional value, remain subject to copyright, even when the original photographer cannot be traced, has given up photography, or died. In the absence of a licence, it will be an infringement of copyright in the photographs to copy them.
Is this right or wrong? You decide, but to strip photographers of their artistic license is a catastrophe. On paper, Jay-Z’s management are taking advantage of photographers and their prerogative to sell pictures to newspapers and publications – which in turn garner publicity for the artist and their material. Surely this can only be positive?
In the current corporate culture where illegal file sharing is rife, musicians are taking steps to ensure the paper keeps rolling in.
Propaganda rules and musicians now furiously control their images and force their bed linens, computer games, fragrances and clothing lines on cash-strapped consumers. But this has set a precedent.
It can only be a sign of things to come.
♫ Tommy Stewart – ‘Bump And Hustle Music’.