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Vicious squircles

The Big Hurt: grave errors and virtual disappointments
By DAVID THORPE  |  July 15, 2008

Someone has made off with IAN CURTIS’s gravestone. The motive is unknown; the press has speculated that it was a deranged fan or someone hoping to cash in by hawking the stone, but everybody seems to be ignoring the most elegant and obvious answer — just look for all the terminally ill guys in Manchester who happen to be named Ian Curtis. What with the hospital bills and all, they’ve gotta cut corners somewhere.

Curtis could not be reached for comment.

Yet more alarming holiday-album news: SHERYL CROW is set to release a collection of Christmas songs sponsored by Hallmark. At what point does an artist — any artist, even Sheryl Crow — just stop giving a shit about being for real? Are her friends even making fun of her for this stuff anymore, or are they all like, “Oh, congratulations, you got more money”? I’m guessing she got into the whole music thing to express herself and be bohemian and what-not, and now she’s older and richer and doing this Barry Manilow holiday shit, and it’s getting sold in Hallmark Gold Crown stores next to little cards that say, “Smile, Grandpa! You’ll be with Jesus soon,” and I wonder whether she even notices how square it is. For her sake, though, I hope she wakes up every day and looks in the mirror and it’s like Martin Sheen in that first scene from Apocalypse Now.

Speaking of square: NELLY, N.E.R.D., and LINKIN PARK will be lending their considerable credibility to a new marketing campaign by New Era (hat company) and Zune (digital music player). The Microsoft Zune, you may recall, was the hottest technology must-not-have of 2006, and it’s gone on to sell more than 700 units. The artists will be featured in short “Webisodes” in which they tell the Zune-hungry public about all the fantastic music that they have on their totally not-unsexy Zunes, which they would totally be caught dead with. Somehow, hats will be involved.

The “Webisode” concept, if you didn’t know, is a device concocted by hack viral marketing consultants to exploit the popular theory that any video put up on the Web will be watched by millions of people for no apparent reason. Having worked on the Web, I can tell you that viral marketing dudes are like organ grinders; you pay them to shut up.

And, in a chilling coda to the tale of one machine’s unhipness, the press has been referring to the Zune’s round-cornered touchpad as a “squircle.” Let that one shudder through your system. I just had kidney stones, and let me tell you: the word “squircle” is worse.

Even after the little Glastonbury donnybrook, JAY-Z told MTV News he’d be willing to collaborate with OASIS someday. “It doesn’t matter to me, I don’t bear any grudge,” quoth the Hov. “I just believe in good music and bad music, I’ve always said that.” It’s always refreshing to hear from an artist who, despite all the money and fame, still harbors a sincere belief in bad music. Although he happens to create good music himself, Jay has proved himself a studious patron of badness through high-profile collaborations with LINKIN PARK and R. KELLY.

Haute-couture metal act SLIPKNOT have updated their grisly masks for the ’08 season. The fashionable octet’s new line of crowd-distracting gimmick headwear includes horrific odes to iconic pop-culture villains like DR. DOOM, LEATHERFACE, and JESUS (the mask with the bloody crown of thorns). Reportage by adds to the already palpable charm: “It’s widely known that the band rarely cleans the masks after performances, despite claims by its members that they sweat, bleed, and vomit in them during their live sets.” Ah, but judge them not too harshly, because there but for the grace of God go our own underpants.

While I’m at it, I should point out that Slipknot are a prime example of the Good Drummer Rule: any band who’re regularly defended by their fans as having a “really good drummer” are invariably godawful.

MADONNA, apparently worried that her concerts might sell out too fast, has enlisted BRITNEY SPEARS to make “virtual” appearances on her next tour. I guess the deal is that some kind of Britney material is being filmed in advance, and it’ll be somehow displayed during the concerts. Which is worse, the injury of a Britney Spears cameo or the insult of a not-even-really-live appearance?

In other Ciccone news: though she denies it, it appears that she just broke up some baseball player’s marriage. The story is recent as I write, but I’m sure you’ll be sick of it by the time you read this. Consider it a little journalistic piss-you-off time bomb from me to you. (I’m still mad at you for not laughing at the Ian Curtis thing, and I’m being passive-aggressive.)

  Topics: Music Features , Ian Curtis , Sheryl Crow , Britney Spears ,  More more >
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