In what is turning into a pattern of music by big-name artists finding its way onto radio well before its official release, as-yet-unreleased singles by Marilyn Manson and Hole were leaked onto the airwaves over the weekend -- thanks to a pair of modern-rock radio stations.
"Dope Show" by goth-rockers Marilyn Manson and Hole's "Celebrity Skin" -- the title track from the carefully shielded new Hole album, the first in more than four years -- were played repeatedly Friday, Saturday and Sunday by New York station WXRK (92.3 FM) and its L.A. sister station, alternative-radio trendsetter KROQ (106.7 FM).
As in the case of previously leaked records by Pearl Jam and Madonna, at least one of the Manson and Hole songs didn't take long to reach the Internet, where one enterprising fan quickly converted "Dope Show" into a near CD-quality downloadable clip.
Kevin Striepe, a 15-year-old native of Torrance, Calif., said he taped the song off KROQ and slapped it onto his "Anti News" unofficial Manson site as soon as he could.
"When I heard it on the radio, I thought it was a mistake or a pirated song or something," Striepe wrote in an e-mail. "I was quick to record it."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Hole's label, DGC, confirmed that "Celebrity Skin" was played on the stations nearly three weeks before the song's official radio add date. "They didn't get it through us. I don't know who they got it from," DGC spokesperson Jim Merlis said.
The eagerly anticipated, 14-track Hole album, Celebrity Skin (Sept. 8), the follow-up to 1994's breakthrough, Live Through This, features the rollicking, Cheap Trick-like power punk of the title track, which wasn't supposed to hit radio until Aug. 25, according to Merlis.
The Manson song, "Dope Show," from the forthcoming Mechanical Animals (Sept. 15) album, was also played nearly a dozen times between Friday and Sunday night on New York's WXRK, according to a source at the station who requested anonymity.
"We played them like five times a day," the source said of the Hole and Manson songs. The source also confirmed that cease-and-desist orders from DGC and Manson's Interscope Records greeted WXRK staffers on Monday morning when they arrived for work. A spokesperson for Interscope Records could not be reached for comment at press time.
A spokesperson for program director Kevin Weatherly of Los Angeles-based station KROQ would only confirm that both songs were debuted over the weekend on that station; the source would not comment on the receipt of any cease-and-desist orders.
The practice of pre-releasing highly anticipated songs to influential radio stations is not uncommon in the music business. While record labels usually deny providing stations with leaked copies of new songs, industry insiders claim that the practice is fairly routine, especially on high-profile releases in which labels are seeking to generate interest.
The new Manson song, a mid-tempo track with bass-heavy verses and thundering guitars, features the refrain: "We're all stars now in the dope show."
Among the other lyrics sure to draw the wrath of the conservative forces that opposed the shock rocker's previous album, Antichrist Superstar, are: "Cops and queers, to swim you have to swallow/ Hate today, no love for tomorrow."
Striepe said that, as far as he knows, his is the only site featuring the new song, which he said he would take down if asked to do so. "I don't want the FBI to come around or anything," he explained, saying that he was just sitting tight for now and "enjoying the fame and hoping I don't get shut down."
Merlis said one of the security measures taken to ensure that the songs from the Hole album were not leaked was an "iron clad" agreement sent out to journalists who received advance copies in which the reporters agreed not to allow anyone else to hear or record the album.
Among the typically Love-like lyrics on "Celebrity Skin" are the lines: "When I wake up in my makeup/ It's too early for that dress/ wilted and faded somewhere in Hollywood/ I'm glad I came here/ with your pound of flesh."
The song, whose lyrics were written by leader Love, with music credited to Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson and Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan, seems to repeatedly make reference to Love's dual role as a singer/actress with such lines as: "No second billing 'cause you're a star now/ Oh Cinderella/ they aren't sluts like you."
Because MP3 audio technology on the Internet allows fans to quickly post pre-release songs with a potential audience of millions, at least one major band's manager said he will be taking extra precautions when his band's new album comes out in October.
"We will do our best to make sure the album is not leaked," said Bertis Downs, manager for Athens, Ga.-based supergroup R.E.M.
Although Downs would not elaborate on how R.E.M. would avoid early release of songs from their upcoming album, Up (Oct. 27), he said part of the reason that the band was so adamant about not falling prey to leaks was because of its members' aesthetic sensibilities. "There's something about having an album in your hand on the day it's released and listening to it as soon as you get home and checking out the artwork and the whole package," Downs said.