White Stripes’ ‘Icky’ Rules, But Gym Class Heroes? Not So Much, In Bigger Than The Sound

Also: The overwhelmingly positive feedback keeps rolling in!

On The Record: Opinions Were Like Kittens, I Was Givin’ ‘Em Away

First off, I’d like to thank everyone for the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received for the first edition of “Bigger Than the Sound.” There were a whole lot of really great comments made about the column — from your basic “this guy/MTV sucks” to the more advanced “this is my least favorite kind of pseudo-journalism” — but this was perhaps the best of the bunch:

“For a bad, bad man he’s got some wack witeboy p—y taste in music.”
— ILX member félix pié, Wednesday, 25 April 2007 17:41

If I knew how to work this Web site, I would make that the BTTS tag line … and not just because it’s true, but also because it’s not every day that your work merits a harshly worded, curiously punctuated response from the future of the Chicago Cubs. Thanks for the words, Félix … now let’s work on raising that OBP.

Anyway, all that vitriol made me realize that I should’ve shared something with all of you before I wrote the first installment of BTTS: I frequently have no idea what I’m talking about. Well, not really “no idea”; more like “a very convoluted” one. I have, from time to time, been accused of perhaps getting too hyperbolic about things (like in 2005, when I declared … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead’s Worlds Apart the “album of the year” after one particularly voluminous listen in an Interscope conference room; or later that year, when I crowned the White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan the same; or just a few months ago, when I sent a lengthy e-mail to my colleagues proclaiming that Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero “will be just like American Idiot”) and as such, my initial take on most things usually cannot be trusted.

That said, I really love the White Stripes’ new single, “Icky Thump” (from the album of the same name). I mean, I really love it. And if anyone within the Stripes publicity team would ever respond to my requests to hear the entire album, I’d probably declare it the year’s best without a second thought (though naturally, I would later have second thoughts). Of course, my opinion of “Thump” was formed only after I spent at least 24 hours calling it “sloppy,” “sort of like ‘Riverdance’ ” and “second-rate Yes.” Which is funny, because I now totally love the song, chiefly because a) It sounds like Jack is playing the guitar behind his head the entire time; b) It may or may not feature an actual bagpipe breakdown; and c) It sounds like second-rate Yes.

And it doesn’t stop there. At the time of this writing, none other than the Gym Class Heroes — who I’d previously referred to as “the most ridiculous band on the planet” — have a single in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and an album that has sold more than 300,000 copies in roughly 11 months. To say I’d dismissed them would be an understatement … I never, ever, ever thought they’d sell a third of what they have, never envisioned them on “TRL.” To me, they made no sense: They sound like a funk band, they’re fronted by a guy who looks like the emo Method Man, their live set features a gentleman whose only discernable task seems to be waving a giant “GCH” flag and their bass player has a ponytail.

Yet, more than 10,000 people are compelled to buy their As Cruel as School Children album each week, and they enjoy almost universal message board appeal, proving once again that I really don’t have a clue.

So take that information, couple it with the fact that I once said GCH’s labelmates Panic! at the Disco were “never gonna go anywhere,” and it’s pretty obvious that I cannot predict what is gonna be a hit, or which band is gonna make it. And as my track record clearly shows, my initial opinions about most things are pretty far removed from my final thoughts (plus, thanks to the magic of the Internet, those predictions and opinions are preserved forever.)

And all that means that I should probably shut my mouth, but oddly, it sort of fills me with the opposite sentiment. I don’t see myself ceasing from penning breathlessly nonsensical e-mails about records (“This new Mary Timony album is the best thing she’s done since [her band Helium's] The Magic City, because it sounds exactly like The Magic City!“) or making ludicrous, irrational statements about the import of so-and-so’s new single anytime soon, because, well, that’s what my favorite rock writers have always done, and that’s sort of what being a fan of music is all about.

What makes it risky — or fun, or, you know, whatever — is that my e-mail address or my byline is always affixed to those statements and speculations. I’m not afforded the luxury of anonymity. So some (OK, most) of the time, I come across as, well, a little ridiculous. But, then again, what’s the point of having a soapbox if you don’t use it?

After all, that’s about 85 percent of what’s awesome about this job. The other 15? Having Félix Pié talk sh– about you (and the free CDs). Then again, if you ask me about it next week, I’m sure those numbers will have changed exponentially.

B-Sides: Other Stories I’m Following This Week

Martha Plimpton talks to Feist; Ione Skye crafts e-mail to Emily Haines’ publicist: “A Conversation With Feist, Canada’s New ‘It’ Girl, By Martha Plimpton.”

Fred Durst as delusional, jilted Lover: “Oh, you saw Wes? Oh, cool. Out at Sharkey’s, huh? How’d he look?”: “Fred Durst Digs Wes Borland’s New Band But Still Wants To Get Back To Bizkit.”

For a school with a “swarthy, eye patch-wearing pirate named Marauder” as its mascot, Millersville University is pretty lame: “Woman Denied Degree Over ‘Drunken Pirate’ MySpace Photo Sues School.”

E-mail of the Week (or: An Easy Way to Pad a Column)

I get lots of mail. Literally tens of messages from devoted readers looking to discuss the topics of the week, call me all sorts of unprintable names, or in the case of this week’s subject, to “safe guard this fund before something else happens to it.”

“Dear Friend,

My name is David P. Cole from Liberia. I love hunting, singing, climbing mountains, Fishing ,i am also Out spoken; Lovely and Kind.

I am the only Child of my Parents My Dad, Work in an Oil Company while my Mum Works with a Bank. Just before i lost both of them, In an ARMED- ROBBERY Incident here not long ago; I decided to go out from my Country just because of what my Fathers Family planing to do with my Father’s Estates, Including all his wealth.S ince all this being are happening;I decided to do something with a Forigner just to Help me to Invest/Establish in His /Her Country. I am assuring you that You will never loose anything that you are doing with me, Just to help me to Safe Guard This Fund before something else happens to it.I am presently in Cotonou Benin Republic West Africa .But the fact is that I am happy since i succeeded with all the Document that concern this Fund. My Dad’s brothers dosen’t know about this Cash which he Depossited in Europe. But i had never left home Just because of the Estates and other investments because i was afraid Maybe i will loose everything.

This is my main reassons for going out from the Country.Pls help me to Safe Guard this,$10,200,000,USD( Ten Million Two Hundred Thousand Dollars) 30% of this Fund will be For you after the transactions.

God bless you for hearing my cries.

Best regards.
David P. Cole”

You’re welcome for hearing your cries, David! I’ll be in touch with my Social Security number a.s.a.p. And thanks for the kind words!

Wanna be like David? Hit me up with your questions, concerns or possibly felonious requests for cash at BTTS@mtvstaff.com.