On The Record: I Am A Gigantic Baby. A Gigantic Baby Without A Platinum-Record Plaque.
It’s official. Bigger Than the Sound is one year old. So in honor of that milestone, I figured I’d spend the next thousand (or so) words acting exactly like every 1-year-old I’ve ever met: petulant, snotty, blubbering and seething with entitlement (I know some pretty lousy 1-year-olds, believe me). I sort of feel I’ve earned it. If not, well, then I apologize in advance for taking time away from “Miley Cyrus Watch.”
See, I’ve been writing this column for one year now, and in that time, I’ve been alternately petty , holier-than-thou , mean-spirited and downright stupid , but I’ve never been all of those things at once, primarily because I’ve never thought a situation demanded it. Until now.
Because I’ve been wronged — horribly, irrevocably wronged — and I don’t think I’m ever going to recover from it. On Monday, my wife, who’s a producer for MTV Radio, received her first platinum-record plaque (she asked me not to say who it’s from, because she didn’t “want the band reading about it in [my] big-baby column”), a big, shiny thing with her name engraved on it and everything. Needless to say, I was endlessly proud of her. Also needless to say, as soon as I laid eyes on it, my inner-toddler curled up in a ball, held his breath, stomped his feet and smashed his ice cream cone all over the walls of the Sears Portrait Studio.
Her platinum plaque brought the grand total of “extraneous and slightly garish music-industry awards” currently cluttering the Montgomery household to exactly one. And that made me jealous. And upset. Actually, it made me both at the same time.
After all, I’ve worked for MTV News for nearly four years now, and in that time, I’ve penned something like 50 (!) Fall Out Boy stories, 30 Panic at the Disco pieces and around 25 My Chemical Romance briefs. Not to mention countless bits about Green Day, Coldplay, U2, Nickelback and just about every rock band of note. I’ve done video pieces and album previews and “You Hear It First” blurbs, and I’d like to think that somewhere, at least one of those stories inspired a kid somewhere to head out to Wal-Mart and purchase one of the countless millions of albums those bands have sold. And yet, for all the good work I’ve done here at MTV, no band or label has ever seen it fit to send so much as a gold record plaque, let alone a platinum one.
And this makes me angry. And ashamed. Because, really, I don’t feel like my career can be validated until I have an office full of gleaming, gaudy plaques. I don’t even care if they’re from, like, Adema or the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. I just want the bling. The status. The blinding walls. Seriously, can’t someone send me a f—ing plaque? Anyone?
I realize the industry doesn’t exactly work this way. These are not the halcyon days of the 1980s, when record execs tossed plaques at dudes in the mailroom. Long gone are the times when every two-bit publicist, radio DJ and concert promoter was awash in a sea of plaque-itude, or when Mötley Crüe and Ozzy would do blow off an award pressed solely to signify worldwide sales of 10 million units of Girls, Girls, Girls. Record labels are hemorrhaging money, and platinum plaques have come to be seen as the fairly ridiculous, rather unnecessary (and expensive) trinkets they are, and as such, they’ve nearly vanished. For the most part, the party’s over, and they’ve become about as rare as albino leprechauns or thought-provoking moments on “The Hills”: they probably exist, you’ve just never seen one. (I e-mailed Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz — no stranger to major-label excess — about them, and his response? “They are about to be vintage. … You see one now, and it’s like, ‘Whoa, you got one of those?’ “)
And yeah, I also realize that, by and large, platinum plaques are nothing more than carrots extended on sticks, gilded tokens given to gullible journos and presidents of TV networks to make them think they’re “doing a great job” and “part of the team.” They are not career validators. And pretty much everyone who’s received more than one realizes this. They come to view the plaques as nothing more than clutter, eyesores taking up space in their Brooklyn brownstones. They laugh at the older ones — Stryper, Iron Maiden, Limp Bizkit — and yet they all remember their first one. Receiving a plaque is sort of a rite of passage, like being invited to vote in the The Village Voice‘s Pazz & Jop poll, or being seduced by Liz Phair in an interview.
And here I am, still waiting for my first one.
Of course, I am aware that this column makes me sound like a genuinely awful person. And a desperate one. But there is a hole in the recesses of my soul that only a platinum plaque can fill (perhaps even a gold one would suffice). It is a pang I feel whenever I enter my co-workers’ offices, and see their walls lined with plaques from Slipknot or 3 Doors Down. It is a pang I feel whenever I go to a recording studio and see the carpeted walls lined with ephemera from Snow or PM Dawn. And it is a pang I certainly felt when I traveled out to the wilds of New Jersey to watch Nickelback receive plaques commemorating sales of 25 million worldwide.
I want to be a part of that unnecessary excess, that stupidity, that decrepit business model. … I want the industry to recognize me. And what better way to do that than with a platinum plaque?
And if the mailroom here at MTV is suddenly overcome with large boxes from, say, the Warner Music Group or EMI or UMG or Sony BMG, well, then that is a good thing. If any rock band feels the need to reward my talents, hey, bring it on. I am beyond shame at this point. I refuse to feel guilty about this. I have platinum fever. I think I’ve earned it.
[Editor's note: Montgomery might not have to wait much longer. Wentz just promised the petulant writer, via e-mail, to send an Infinity on High platinum plaque ASAP. Score!]
Slightly Less Than A Half-Dozen Of My Favorite Things On The Internet This Week, So Named For A Post-Rock Group That No One Probably Remembers.
1. Spencer And Heidi’s Patriotic Make-Out Session: In 20 years, when you have kids, they will inevitably come across some news holograms of Osama Bin Laden, and they will turn to you, eyes watering, hands trembling, and ask “Mommy/Daddy, why did that man hate us so much?!?!” Just show them these photos. That should do the trick.
2. Travis McCoy’s “I Just Ate 2 Chick Patties Now It’s Time To Clean The Condo Spotless” Mix On MuxTape: Begins with Phoenix’s excellent “Everything Is Everything” and ends with Lil Wayne’s “Certified.” In between, there’s Snoop, J Dilla, Isaac Hayes and, uh, He Is Legend. Travie’s probably got the cleanest condo in town.
3. The Many “Wow, I Just Got Rocked” Faces Of Barry Zito: Responds one Yahoo! commenter: “Everyone laughed when I drafted Zito at the tail end of my draft, while Micah Owings and Brian Bannister went undrafted. I would have the last laugh, when Zito returned to fantasy prominence, despite absolutely no indication that he would. It would be the diamond in the rough for my pitching staff. Then he started 0-3 and I cut him. Bummer. He doesn’t even get any starts against the Giants, which usually makes ANY schmo SP useful for streaming.” Totally, dude.
4. The Top 25 Opening Credits Of ’80s Action Shows: A solid list, an infallible scoring system and proof that things really were better back then.
5. David Berman’s LastFm Playlist: The Silver Jews mastermind listens to a ton of old, sort-of bizarre country and western tunes and Siouxsie & the Banshees. Now you can too! Leroy Van Dyke’s “The Auctioneer” rules almost as much as the Jews’ Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea album.
Questions? Concerns? Platinum plaques? Send ‘em to me at BTTS@MTVStaff.com.