Ryan Adams Rant

Because I have too much time on my hands…

There were a lot of things wrong with a lot of things this year, but probably one of the most confusing (and sometimes horrifying) things about this year was the ascension of Ryan Adams to alt-country superstardom in the press. Everyone keeps talking about how The Strokes were hyped up and fawned over in the British press and blah blah blah. But you know what? The U.S. press did the same thing with Ryan Adams.

My terrifying experiences with Ryan Adams began in January of this year in London. There were Ryan Adams posters plastered everywhere. I guess he was doing a gig or something and I just remember looking at the picture and going, “Dude- this guy’s name is RYAN ADAMS. AHAHhahahhahahah. He must be a tool.” I think at this point I thought he was some weird British person trying to be American hick. Of course I now know Adams is just an American hick trying to be a weird British person (see Elton John).

(On a side note- am I the only person highly disturbed by the level of stalking Elton John has gone through to attach himself to the Jack D-drunk ass of Mr. Adams? … but then again, in John’s defense–he probably has people who do all that tracking for him. I think Adams is thinking too much of himself….And to add insult to injury, he thanked the former Whiskeytown member in his liner notes… something about making him want to make music again. Noooooo. Oh, and by the way, Macy Gray is probably mad pissed Elton is not plugging her album as much as he used to. Seems as though trying to hit up on Adams is taking too much time away from hanging out with his pot-head self-promoting-skitzo friends. Don’t worry, Macy, you’ve got a gay friend in Rosie O’Donnell.)

So fast forward a bit. Let’s say around June or July. Ryan Adams pops up in almost all the glossys… even NYLON and Blender. Uh oh. He’s become hipster. He gets more American press than The Strokes. Images of a scruffy-haired Adams lounging around (drunk) with ’70’s tinted shades, plaid button-down shirts and tight-fitting dirty denim make it look as though he’s the product of a rejected Calvin Klein ad campaign. (Says Klein, “Dirty denim was soooo Fall 1999! We’ve already whored enough musical talents. We leave that stuff to The Gap now.”) He was the modern day Marlboro Man. Except without a cowboy hat… or a horse… or a square jaw… or a well-built physique. Ok- maybe he was just a 27-year-old chain-smoking alcoholic, but one I could grow to love.

He still had potential.

There have been a few things that have catapulted Ryan Adams to his current status as America’s number one guy with a name that sounds like Bryan Adams. The aforementioned obsession Elton John has with him is one. Another (and probably more disturbing and harmful) reason for Adams-mania is the event I like to call, “Big Buildings Go Boom,” or September 11, 2001. Not too long ago I asked someone, “Who decided that this song (New York, New York) was valid?” Their reply? “Osama bin Laden.”

When Island Records released the “New York, New York” video (slapping on a dedication to the beginning and end of the tape) it was probably with good intentions. They were going to stand by the work of their artist and his vision…. right on. Yes, the Twin Towers were in the video. Yes, it was shot on September 7. Yes, Ryan Adams says “New York” about a million times in the song. And yes, it would probably get a lot of airplay and make a shit load of money and publicity for all parties involved. No harm in that, I guess.

But the thing I guess that pissed me off the most was the critics adulation of this mediocre song. No, that’s not right. I don’t think anyone really said that “New York, New York” was a great song. I just was disturbed it became this huge anthem for New York and such. It became mixed in with all the scary patriotism of the City and the country. This song that happened to mention New York, written by this North Carolina native. And the fact that no one really seemed to care that the song wasn’t really about New York, it was about some ex-girlfriend of Adams–substituting her name with “New York,” where their relationship happened. Everyone also didn’t really seem to care that Gold is really about Los Angeles, not New York. You want Ryan Adam New York? Wasn’t that what Heartbreaker was for?

I wondered what was going on.

Not only that, but at the same time people were giving The Strokes real flack for taking off “New York City Cops” from Is This It. Was a word mentioned about the fact that Gold features a red, white and blue-clad Adams in front of AN UPSIDE DOWN AMERICAN FLAG. This new poster-boy for American patriotism had an UPSIDE DOWN AMERICAN FLAG on the cover of his damn album! Adams is quick to state that the flag is an SOS sign, not an anti-government sign.. so whatever. Match point Adams. It’s suppose to be a call for the singer-songwriter… But where The Boss made his album cover iconic by having a tight ass, all we get is Adams’s Edward Scissorhands ‘do in our faces.

So is the hatred for Ryan Adams a result of unusual circumstances? Is the hate tied to the hate of other things like pseudo-patriotism? Some of it probably is. But then he goes and starts plugging his own praise on his website. Like.. writing Elton John is a fan!. Granted, it’s not him writing it (he’s far to busy spiraling down to a slovenly mess to be bothered with typing shit up on the computer) but it’s the thought that counts.

He also really does make a drunken ass of himself most of the time. When he’s not singing “Rocket Man” with Elton John onstage, he’s usually falling off of it. And for some reason I might actually believe he broke his hand falling out of the tour bus… well no, not really. I’m sure there was alcohol involved, but I wouldn’t be so sure it involved a fight, as we might assume with a certain other broken hand. Sometimes it seems almost as if he’s trying too hard not to give a fuck.

But what about the music? One and a half yawns. Yes, there are some really hot moments–like the verse parts of “Gonna Make You Love Me” where Adams does his best Jack White impression. Then he kicks into his opening guitar riff from “New York, New York” and it’s all pretty much over. And what about “Answering Bell” being a direct rip-off of “The Weight” by The Band? Or maybe it’s that all folk sounds the same? Blah blah blah blah…

Not to mention that Ryan Adams is obsessed with Meg White… thanking HER in HIS liner notes. I think there are a lot of people in Detroit that’d like to kick his butt. He talks out of his ass and thinks with his dick. Also has been linked to our favorite little shoplifting music whore, Winona Ryder (but then who hasn’t?). What a winner.

Do I really hate Adams, like Rolling Stone post-fawning? I’m not sure. I never fawned, just complained. I just took out all this time to write about him… I mean why bother?

Sigh.

There were just some things that needed to be said.

Top Albums and Singles for 2001

Blogger was evil and ate my Top 10 list. I used to have explanations, but now I’m just too frustrated and lazy:

TOP 10 LONG PLAY ALBUMS OF 2001

1. The Strokes, Is This It
Was there even a question?

The rest of the best… in no particular hierarchy… ok, with a certain degree of hierarchy, but with equal love…

2. The White Stripes, White Blood Cells

3. Starsailor, Love Is Here
4. Basement Jaxx, Rooty
5. Turin Brakes, The Optimist

6. Gorillaz, Gorillaz
7. Jay-Z, The Blueprint
8. Bjork, Vespertine
9. The Moldy Peaches, Moldy Peaches
10. Sparklehorse, It’s A Wonderful Life

THE TOP 10 SINGLES OF 2001

1. Atomic Kitten, “Whole Again”
Because “Teenage Dirtbag” was officially released in 2000.

Now some other fun tunes, in no particular order…I’ll try not to overlap artists already represented in the Top 10 Albums list.

2. Jay-Z, “H to the Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”
3. Kylie Minogue, “Can’t Get You Outta My Head”
4. The Wildbunch, “Danger! (High Voltage)”
5. Mya, Pink, Lil’ Kim, Christina Aguilera, “Lady Marmalade”
6. Mary J. Blige, “Family Affair”
7. The Avalances, “Since I Left You”
8. Jimmy Eat World, “The Middle
9. Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman, “Something Stupid
10. Britney Spears, “I’m A Slave 4 U

TOP 10 PEOPLE/ALBUMS/SONGS THAT NEEDED TO DIE IN 2001

1. Ryan Adams/ Elton John
Yes, they both wear tinted sunglasses indoor. Yes, they both are highly irritating. Yes, Rolling Stone kisses their asses way too much. Yes, they are the same person.

Other annoyances in the music world for 2001…

2. Pete Yorn – He’s ugly and his music sucks. Boo to over-rated Jersey boys.
3. Flickerstick – Ok, so you won “Bands on the Run.” Do you still have to keep making “music”?
4. Travis, The Invisible Band – I’m sorry, but what a disappointment.
5. Paul McCartney, “Freedom” – Stop Paul. Please, for the love of god, life, and this country- stop.
6. Nelly Furtado – Granted, “Like A Bird” is pretty catchy, but she’s pretty annoying.. AND CANADIAN!
7. Michael Jackson, Invincible – See number 5.
8. P.O.D., Satellite – Not only is there the evocation of DMB, but they SUCK.
9. Backstreet Boys, “Drowning” – Oh, I’m sorry, did anyone hear that song? No? Take a hint.

10. Hear’say, Popstars – No. Just no.

Ryan Adams Loses a Fan

From a White Stripes list:

Saw Ryan Adams this weekend, a sold out show, big theater…show highlights included: excruciating 25-minute guitar jams that SUCKED, ryan swearing at and taunting the audience, strenuously arguing the point that he is NOT a poser and that he makes more money than any of us in the audience …lengthy delays between songs for no apparent reason other than the fact that ryan was “so stoned, man” …this was all very annoying but here was the final insult…he played “dead leaves and the dirty ground” with the lyrics changed to include slurs against both meg and jack, that “meg white can do me any way she wants” and that “jack white better watch out when ryan comes to town” and other obnoxious crap about him making more money than jack white, having a big limo, bla bla bla. it was beyond the realm of the put-down, it was a total insecurity-fest. very sad and ugly display. and as a (former) r. adams fan, i’m still pissed.

Now it’s officially cool to not like Ryan Adams… like it was 4 months ago… and then 2 months ago… and every so often and always and never….again.

Thinking about The Strokes?

Last night I was talking about how much I miss London. But I don’t (but I do). I love New York more and more every day.

And on a closing note, don’t you love how the definition of “art” is really broad? Yeah, my apartment? I’ve decided it’s the newest thing in “live-in-art.” Come visit.

Dissing Ryan Adams Is SOoooo Last Month

Look, Rolling Stone hates Ryan Adams, calling him “Ryan ‘Could I be any more overrated?’ Adams”. God, don’t they know it’s SO last month to dis out Ryan “I might be a drunk, but I have more money than you” Adams?

From that same page…Tiger Mountain… you decide.

And this takes the cake.. Sir Elton John is most definitely nutters“‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake and Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman) will appear in Elton John’s new video, “This Train Don’t Stop There Any More,” which was shot in Los Angeles last week . . . “.

Oh, and I just had to say, to my horror, I saw THE FLICKERSTICK video on M2 last night/ this morning. I cried. Brandin is trying to be all Glam Rock with his stupid eyeliner. Doesn’t he know the revival of Glam Rock was in 1998…. Velvet Goldmine and Hedwig? Iggy Pop or Lou Reed you are not. Can someone tell me how they got signed to EPIC?!?!?! I do have to say, their website is pretty snazzy though…. Although Cory looks like Kramer from “Seinfeld” now. Unfortunate. Rex is still the cool one.

Why Does Ryan Adams Wear Flares?

Betty just asked “Why does Ryan Adams wear flare pants?” I don’t know Betty.. I just don’t know.

Right now Adams is so hyped and lauded over that everyone is gonna wank on him soon. I’ve already slagged him off, so I’m gonna be ahead of the curve and say he’s now cool. I give it until the end of the year… at the most.

Oh, and in randomness- there was a South sticker on the Route 80 bus I went on today to get to the Much Ado… theater. Bizarre.

Ryan Adams: So Uncool He’s Cool

Ryan Adams on Leno right now. He’s wearing sunglasses indoors… who does he think he is? Elton John? Oh wait…

Too many American flags. Dweeb. (When was the last time you used that word? Great word!)

Oh shit.. he ISN’T? Is he? Oh he IS. He’s wearing a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt.

AHAHAHAhaha. Leno struts over to the stage- Adams looks like a kid who just killed a bunny on Easter. He’s giddy. Leno grabs Adams’ right hand and squeezes it and says, “Thank you!” Adams screams out, “OWW!!!” Then we remember, Ryan Adams broke his hand mysteriously falling down some steps… or like it has previously been suggested on this page, it was broken in a failed attempt to dislodge the big stick up his *ahem*.

Leno giggles his stupid Leno giggle and as they fade to commercial, the faint sounds of “We love you Ryan…” can be heard, subtly, but surely inducing vomiting across the country… although the vomiting will be staggered for a few hours for our Central/Pacific friends.

Now they are talking to Adams. He’s still wearing the shades from the ’70s, he seems drunk. Why are they talking for so long? He’s telling about how he never has time to resole his shoes and that’s the reason why he made like a dumba** and broke his hand.

The girls just screamed for Adams again. They will be put to death by my special “phazer.”

You need some Sigur Ros right now to balance out all that Adams talk. Sorry.

Jenn just told me, at the JJ72 show tonight, The Sheila Devine opened and came on stage and said, “Hi, we’re The Sheila Divine and we know The Strokes.” ::rolls eyes::

I’m giving up. Ryan Adams is so uncool, he’s cool now. I enjoy the idiocy. I’m going to the other side. Can’t fight any more. Just too tired.

Get Over It: Jack and Meg White Were Never Married

Dude… the intro to the Leno program said, “Musically acclaimed singer… Ryan Adams.” *Snort*

Ewan. On. Leno. Tomorrow. ::breathes::

Rerun of The Strokes on Conan December 10.

Can we finally bury the hatchet on this are they, aren’t they business about Jack and Meg? THEY AREN’T. THEY’RE NOT. THEY WERE. Why did they do it?, you may ask? According to this Age interview, “According to Jack, they invented their alternate history ‘when a journalist we didn’t like started saying stuff about us and we decided to make them look stupid’.” It’s a pretty good article.

And in a nod to *The* Neil Vickers, let’s give a shout out to Martin Amis!

I Just Saw Todd Solondz

I saw Todd Solondz about 10 minutes ago while waiting outside for the fire drill to clear. How New York am I?

Anyone want my free Mudvayne CD? I’m keeping the Ryan Adam’s video though.

Sarwat had plus one to the ‘Frapp show… Sadly we are 1. too lazy and 2. too boring.

It seems as though every site I surf on today has a D Plan mention. Weird.

“I’ve Been Emailing Julian Casablancas” and the Dark Side of Being “The Next Big Thing”

There is a thread on TheStrokes.org called “I’ve been emailing with Julian for Months now…” and it is simply THE FUNNIEST posting I’ve read this month. There is all this complicated IP address listing, and then someone kicks in at the end showing that the IP addresses are coming from a UK address (BT Internet) proving that it really could not be Julian Casablancas emailing this girl. It’s like a Nancy Drew book!

While trying to think of a topic for my final Feature Article piece, I came across this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

November 18, 2001

BEING CALLED THE NEXT BIG THING CAN BE A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

The label has been an omen of success for some and a burden for others who couldn’t live up to the expectations that accompany it.

By Jeff Daniel

As a rock ‘n’ roll front man, Stuart Lupton had it all. A head full of jet black hair. A keen sense of mod style. Looks that fell firmly into an enviable territory that borders both handsome and cute.

All of that was on display on the small stage at Cicero’s in the fall of 1996, as Lupton and his band, the New York City fivesome Jonathan Fire Eater, roared through a quick, tight set of original songs that mixed the darkness of modern Goth with the bluesy energy of the early Stones. Lupton, a charismatic sort, even had his own restrained version of the Jagger-swagger. And why not? Jonathan Fire Eater, was the current big buzz of the rock music industry. Having just signed with the Dreamworks label after an intense bidding war, the band seemed destined for a Nirvana-like breakout. They were due. They had been crowned The Next Big Thing. Of course, it never happened.

After the release of one major label album (to mixed critical reviews and lagging sales), Jonathan Fire Eater spontaneously combusted. The band that the Post-Dispatch once proclaimed “the future of rock ‘n’ roll” couldn’t withstand the media hype, the lofty expectations — the pressure of bearing a title that it hadn’t lobbied for. The Next Big Thing now was last year’s news.

Five years removed, Jonathan Fire Eater finds itself garnering a bit of music press once again — as a historical footnote in recent stories about another New York City rock fivesome. This time even critics seemed aware of the perils inherent in the hype. “Remember Jonathan Fire Eater?” some are asking. “Could this band meet a similar fate?”

That band is the Strokes, and when it comes to Mississippi Nights on Wednesday night, the young musicians will hit the stage as the new Next Big Thing. So says the media, from the British music press to American magazines ranging from Penthouse to Newsweek. On a Lexus-Nexis search of major publications, the combination of the phrases “the Strokes” and “next big thing” brought more than 30 hits.

Rolling Stone magazine called their coming out disc titled “Is This It?” — released on RCA after the requisite major label feeding frenzy — “the stuff of which legends are made.” The band is selling out shows. “Is This It?” debuted at an impressive No. 76 on the Billboard charts. Most critics rave.

But the Strokes will soon learn that the very sword used to knight them has a double edge. With adoration comes skepticism. With reverential hype comes the inevitable backlash. With sky-high expectations comes the potential for a monumental free-fall. Just ask Jonathan Fire Eater, or the seemingly endless stream of rock and pop bands destined to blow up — an industry term for making it big — who instead found themselves acting out the more traditional definition of that phrase. Sigue Sigue Sputnik. London Suede. Veruca Salt. All were set to conquer. All disintegrated or quietly faded away after a brief splash.

But failures never seem to hinder the hunt for that Next Big Thing, a pursuit that goes well beyond music and the need for new rock stars. Hollywood has its own Jonathan Fire Eaters, as does literature, politics and television. The fashion industry is essentially nonexistent without its trend-setting and star-making bulwarks. Yet despite a poor batting average, the quest for hits continues undaunted.

Perhaps that is due to the fact that for every batch of Del Fuegos – remember that Boston roots-rock band who parlayed a Miller beer commercial into a fleeting Next Big Thing moment? – there is an enduring Sade. For every two or three Jan Michael Vincents, a substance-abusing wreck-of-a-man once touted as the young actor to watch, there is a Sean Penn. For every slew of Brett Easton Ellis types, a David Foster Wallace emerges and outlasts the hype machine.

Without a doubt, the greatest impetus for those continuing the Next Big Thing quest would have to be Bruce Springsteen. Now known as the Boss, Springsteen was far from that in 1974, although his first two albums had established his position as a Jersey-shore Dylan with a hard-core cult following.

In 1975, all of that would change as the music press began to buzz about “Born to Run,” the new Springsteen album that featured an expanded sound that had the potential for wider appeal. The music press hubbub quickly saturated the national media, with the end result being Springsteen’s face plastered on the covers of both Time and Newsweek. Here was the Next Big Thing, the forgers of national opinion declared. A quarter century and millions of records sold later, it’s hard to disagree with their proclamation. (And we can still thank our lucky stars that they didn’t choose Southside Johnny.)

The Springsteen example, of course, is now a case study in how a chosen one absorbs the spotlight’s glare, and, like a flower undergoing photosynthesis, uses the light as a means to blossom. Just as often the opposite is true – the heat causes those in the spotlight to wilt.

The list of wilters is long, ranging from such overhyped failures as film comedian Yahoo Serious to such overhyped forgettables as television talk show host Gordon Elliot (both Aussies, by the way). A kind of antithesis of the Springsteen success story involves the tale of Marisa Berenson, a former model tagged for a leading role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1974 film “Barry Lyndon.” Berenson got more ink than a tattooed Hell’s Angel, the hype machine working in overdrive. She was the new It girl, the new Next Big Thing. Needless to say, Berenson hardly met the expectations. Like Jonathan Fire Eater, she is now a footnote; in this case, as the star of the great Kubrick’s least-viewed major release.

Still, a full-fledged flame-out such as the one experienced by Berenson or Yahoo Serious isn’t exactly the norm. Instead, the more likely course for a failed Next Big Thing is a kind of slow, smoldering, fade away, akin to a once roaring campfire reduced to a pile of barely hot ashes. Or better yet, akin to the career of Matthew McConaughey, the young actor whose brief but memorable roles in “Lone Star” and “Dazed and Confused” left him with TNBT branded on his well-toned biceps. But the media buzz faded after a few years, years that included some bad film choices and some low box office totals. A dozen new Matthew McConaugheys have come and gone along the way. The original, no longer next and no longer big, now does his best to keep from being just another “thing.”

Which might be a little tough for McConaughey, for he surely remembers the heady days of his praises being sung in the loudest of voices (its a chorus that actress Julia Ormond, director Harmony Korine and singer Lisa Loeb, among others, must also miss). McConaughy, as his balloon was being inflated, had even appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, a virtual clearinghouse of Next Big Things. It is the cover where you saw Matt Damon and Charlize Theron and Josh Hartnett during their ascendancy. Vanity Fair captures the Next Big Thing buzz, nurtures it, fattens it up – then releases it to stamp through America like a very chic and beautiful Godzilla. Sometimes the method works, sometimes not.

Ryan Adams hasn’t made that cover yet – but he has been close. In the magazine’s recent music issue, the young singer-writer appeared in a color spread with a few of his peers. Adams, who recently canceled two St. Louis concerts at Mississippi Nights (he has rescheduled at the Blue Note in Columbia), has the looks and the talent to get some buzz going. That’s certainly the case these days.

Like the Strokes, Adams is a Next Big Thing, a figure touted as a savior of rock ‘n’ roll. He is following the proper path, to be sure. A recent profile in The New York Times Magazine. An appearance as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live.” An upcoming slot on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Add to this a slew of press clippings from newspapers and magazines from across the country.

But also like the Strokes, Adams seems fully aware of the double-edged sword that he has been forced to handle. In interviews, both the band and the singer have acknowledged the fact that buzz can lead to a fatal sting, that hype can lead to ground swell of bad will soon after it leads to a major recording contract. They seemed to have learned from the mistakes of those who’ve gone before them.

In fact, Adams seems to have learned quite a bit: His critically acclaimed new release, “Gold,” features the musician standing in front of an American flag on its cover, an admitted homage to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” Not quite “Born to Run,” but close enough. One of the rock world’s Next Big Things taking a cue from perhaps the most successful one ever.

Unlike Jonathan Fire Eater, Adams appears to have discovered the Boss’ secret of basking in the spotlight without getting burned. For a Next Big Thing, where flame-out is a distinct possibility, such fireproofing may be as valuable as any combination of talent and looks.

Phone: 314-340-8399