It's been such an eventful few months in pop that I've neglected one of my dearest projects: scraping the tarry press-release residue from the bottom of the industry barrel. Press releases excite me because they're the collision of art and commerce; in today's case, commerce is drunk, art is completely demolished, and everyone is killed.
"NO.1 POP BAND STARTS FRANCHISING – IT'S A GLOBAL FIRST!"
"It's the first time an internationally known pop band has cloned itself. The band can now be seen performing on the same night in two different continents and with two different line-ups. Franchising has existed for over a century and currently employs over 10 million people in the USA alone. However, the approach has never been used by the persona focused artist industry — until now."
I'm sure you're getting all excited about seeing a local franchise of the Rolling Stones, but no such luck: the bold commercial pioneers in question are Rednex, the execrable eurodance puppy mill responsible for the 1994 hit "Cotton Eye Joe." Due to a busy touring schedule and a total lack of regard for decency, they've teamed up with Some Guy to license a special Australia/New Zealand dummy group to perform officially under the Rednex name:
" 'The general guidelines are provided by the Rednex owners overseas, but it is my company that deals with all the local action. In over 20 years in the industry, this is by far the most thrilling project I've been involved in. It is without parallel,' says franchisee Jason Beaumont, who has worked as a radio DJ at RadioLIVE and music producer for Amber Stassi. It was during his time as a DJ that he became a fan of Rednex, so much so that he even got tattooed with the band's logo."
Contrary to what Rednex claim, band franchising isn't a global first. Man or Astroman sent a couple of "clone" groups out on tour, but they were distinctly labeled as such, and the band at least pretended to have quasi-artistic reasons behind it. MF DOOM did it too, but he didn't tell anyone first — audiences and promoters were pretty steamed when they found out they'd paid full price for a lip-syncing impostor. My personal favorite: there are two different Gene Loves Jezebels (Genes Love Jezebel?) floating around; the band split up, but since it was fronted by identical twins, one brother took England, and the other took America.
Even if Rednex are not first, they could still be best. The innovation of the Rednex model is twofold. From a commercial perspective, they're so shameless about their glorified fan-fleecing self-tribute act that canny biz dimwits might even mistake it for a clever idea. From an artistic angle, they don't suffer the potential pitfalls of an MF DOOM scenario: if you paid to see a DOOM concert, you'd be disappointed that a different guy showed, but Rednex have rotated through a dozen colorful Swedish hillbilly performers by now, so it doesn't really matter who takes the stage. Plus, if you paid to see Rednex you're likely missing the parts of your brain that handle complex calculations like "disappointment" anyway.