As with any year, 1997 boasted its share of ups and downs in the world of music, and few people saw more of those ups and downs than Marilyn Manson, Jamiroquai's Jay Kay, Fiona Apple, and Sean "Puffy" Combs. Each began the year as relative unknowns to mainstream music listeners, and each rose to seize the spotlight in their own very unique ways.
Marilyn Manson, both the goth-metal collective and its outspoken frontman, stepped out from the shadow of its mentor, Trent Reznor, and rode a wave of public outcry and protest to chart success. For everyone turned on by the group's searing industrial-edged sound, there were dozens more outraged by the band's stage antics and anti-Christianity rhetoric. While moralists and civic leaders across the world tried to stop him, Manson's ghastly parade continued its defiant march through 1997.
Meanwhile, Jamiroquai and its central figure Jay Kay took a smoother journey to success this year, as the mainstream finally smiled on the slick funk grooves of this British outfit. The band, which had already tallied sales in excess of seven million outside of the U.S., finally got people moving on dancefloors in the States with the help of the gliding sounds (and visuals) of "Virtual Insanity." The band went on to clean house at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, picking up honors for Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video among others.
Fiona Apple's 1997 might best be remembered for that same night, as she saw herself honored with a Best New Artist statuette, and then launched a thousand music columns by proclaiming, "This world is bulls***" [650k QuickTime] in a rambling acceptance speech. Of course, she accomplished a good deal more than that this year. Apple poured her soul into her stark, bare music, and saw the world accept it. The success of these musical confessions landed her a spot on the Lilith Fair tour, and spawned an armload of captivating videos... but she spent a good part of 1997 explaining that acceptance speech to interviewers.
However, no artist knew the highs and lows that Sean "Puffy" Combs hit during the past 12 months. The Bad Boy Entertainment CEO saw the loss of his top act, and closest friend, when the Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in Los Angeles in March. The devastating loss came just as Puffy was making the move from producer to performer, and he went on to stage his career as a tribute to his slain friend. Puffy seemed to pay tribute to his fallen friend at every turn, whether in interviews or on the year's biggest single, "I'll Be Missing You." Soon it seemed that everything Puffy touched turned to gold as the projects he handled (Lil' Kim, Mase, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Boyz II Men just to name a few) swarmed the charts. Even as 1997 draws to a close, Puffy is on the road with the most ambitious, and most successful, hip-hop tour of all time.
Four different performers with four very different stories to tell about 1997... You can catch those stories, and other observations, on MTV's "Year In Rock" which premieres this Friday at 7 p.m. EDT and airs again at December 12 at 7 p.m.; December 13 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; December 14 at 11:30 p.m.; December 18 at 5 p.m.; December 20 at 9 a.m.; December 22 at 10 p.m.; December 27 at 6 p.m.; December 31 at 11:30 a.m.; January 1 at 10 p.m. The "Year In Rock" online debuts Monday, December 15 at 9 p.m.
They also reveal a few of their thoughts on 1997 here in our MTV News Online Feature Of The Week... enjoy.* * *
MTV News: What did you enjoy about the year in music?
Sean "Puffy" Combs: What I really liked this year in music was the diversity this year from all of the new artists, whether it is Wyclef and the Carnival or his style of hip-hop...or there was my style of music which just sampled hit records... to even the records of our pain that I wrote about and just the other personal records that I wrote about on my album ["Missing You" 750k QuickTime Live], to Hanson and just their style... I don't think you've heard a record like that in a couple of years... to the Spice Girls, to Prodigy. I mean, these are all different types of styles of music that have been exposed this year, just different feelings and different vibes that that just made the big musical jumbo that much more flavorful.
MTV News: Three little brothers from Oklahoma called Hanson blew up pretty big earlier this year, what thoughts do you have on teen pop coming back?
Combs: I think Hanson's going to be around for a long time. I think that they're three great talented young men and I think that what people need to stop doing to music is looking at the negative in everything. People are trying their best. It's great, and I think they're going to be around for a long time. You know, I like Hanson. When I hear them sing live, they have good voices, they play live instruments. I think they are going to grow as musicians. They are great entertainers and they have a lot of personality... some clean-cut kids trying to have a good time. They sound like the Jackson 5 to me a little bit ["Mmmbop" 900k QuickTime]. They got a lot of soul to them.
MTV News: What did the year in rock mean to Marilyn Manson?
Marilyn Manson: Avoiding bomb threats, getting spit on, being on MTV's "Week in Rock." We toured the whole year, and luckily only had to miss out on a couple of shows because of all the resistance we were getting because of the fake affidavits that were on the Internet saying that I was killing animals and those sorts of silly rumors.
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