One of the difficult things about creating media for a living is that the attention span of the audience is getting shorter and shorter. Most people still read off a page when I started writing in 2002. Today, a reader is as likely to scan my column off of their iPhone, Red Bull in hand, with the occasional glance at the bumper-to-bumper traffic (at least this is the way of things in Chicago).
Since we’re all caffeine-addled, overworked and distracted anyway, here’s what you need to know, or may have missed, in the first half of 2009 in music. And so you can read it while listening to music, playing a video game and eating dinner, everything is in Twitter-sized snippets.
- Michael Jackson dies, and becomes an Elvis-like marketing empire overnight.
- Emo meets Apple’s GarageBand with the success of Passion Pit.
- Manchester Orchestra becomes a really big deal to indie kids and rock radio alike.
- Black Eyed Peas transition into the Seinfeld of music. Their new songs are all about nothing.
- The Airborne Toxic Event move from L.A. club band to buzz-worthy status in a very short time.
- Everywhere you turn, musicians are reminiscing for the return of ’80s pop, especially the ones who weren’t alive when it was being made.
- And to round out the decade talk, some bands you kind of liked in high school want you to buy their new album …
… including, but not limited to, Blink 182, No Doubt, Creed, Limp Bizkit, Sugar Ray and the list goes on.
- One more note on the ’90s. Eddie from Live accepts Christ, comes on my radio show and promises to deliver a solo LP of songs about his faith.
- Amazon.com/mp3 makes a dent in iTunes by offering a “deal of the day” album for less than $4 and 50 albums each month for $5.
- U2 return with songs about comedians, and going crazy, to mixed reviews.
Springsteen fights back against Live Nation.
- We actually got through seven months without “new” music from Johnny Cash, Biggie or Tupac. Expect more half-finished b-sides and “remixes” to come.
- Speaking of The Man in Black, Snoop Dogg fails to release his “Johnny Cash Remixed” album, to the delight of Johnny Cash fans everywhere.
- In a time when hip-hop isn’t doing well, Jay-Z builds massive buzz for his forthcoming Blueprint III, and slays Autotune in the process.
Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor mocks the new Chris Cornell/Timbaland “electronica” project via Twitter. Most of the world agrees.
- Lance Armstrong fails to win the Tour De France, but develops a serious musical crush on Wilco, and twitters away about (The Album).
- Zooey Deschanel contributes one song to the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack, readies 2nd LP with M. Ward, breaks countless nerd hearts by staying engaged to Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard.
- Chris Brown batters Rhianna the night of the Grammy’s. The story becomes bigger than the songs of either singer could be.
Chris Brown asks for forgiveness via a YouTube statement clearly written by his lawyer. Forgiveness? Yes. Another shot at pop stardom? Let’s hope not.
- Vinyl, officially, comes back. Even Best Buy is carrying it after the test run of Coldpay’s Viva La Vida sold out in Vinyl+CD format.
- David Crowder Band explains why Twitter will kill you.
- Rumors about DJ Hero, the turntable version of Guitar Hero sequel, swirl around the blogosphere.
Record labels attempt releasing multiple EPs in one year, rather than a full-length album to give fans a lower “buy in” to check out new artists.
- Physical CDs still cost more than $10. Most people still don’t buy them.
- Regina Spektor hints at returning to the glory days of ’90s confessional female singer/songwriters (aka “The Fiona Apple Days.”)
- Former Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell and rapper Nelly play in the celebrity softball game on All-Star Weekend. Both prove to be gifted athletes, even if they don’t have the musical skills to match.
Jack White tries to start more bands than the Cubs have failed playoff runs.
- Scottish Import GlasVegas gain popularity in the states by setting nursery rhymes to heartbroken melodies (yeah, there’s no way to explain it unless you’ve heard the record).
- The Killers insist their bad grammar (“Human”) was based on a quote by Hunter S. Thompson.
Seth “tower” Hurd is a radio host, writer and Lake Michigan beach rat in the summer. He can be heard on 89.7 Shine.FM (www.shine.fm) in Chicago and Indiana, and on 101.7 FUSE FM (www.myfusefm.com) in Michigan.