America's Got Talent, NBC's desperate answer to American Idol, is coming to Charlotte to hold auditions -- more like dignity lobotomies -- on Feb. 2 at The Blake Hotel, 555 S. McDowell St. Here's something to ponder while we hold our breaths:
If The Beatles appeared out of the ether today without their 'scouse accents, could they win one of these televised talent shows? Would Bob Dylan at any point in his career even make it through an audition? What about James Brown? Hank Williams? Neil Young? How about more current fare: Thom Yorke, Beck or Bjork? Would any survive the blinkered judgment of D-list heathen like David Hasselhoff or Sharon Osborne, and an audience infatuated with Clay Aiken clones?
Far as we can tell, these competitions aren't about talent, but puerile drama. Uniqueness is not only discouraged, it runs counter-intuitive; it's allowed in the door only as a punching bag for snickering has-beens and couch-molded viewers living out playground bully revenge fantasies. (Seriously, what kind of judgment would a sickly, snot-nosed dervish like Johnny Rotten earn? Death?)
Rather, the formula affirms a few recognizable types so audiences can box them into familiar non-threatening genres (mapped out on FM radio dials across America), making it less mentally taxing to choose between cute yowling soul singer No. 64 and totally cute Nashville-ready crooner No. 249.
This is what passes for democracy these days; we pick our presidents in virtually the same fashion. Shows like America's Got Talent are the fruit of a market-driven, Least Common Denominator culture, where Nielsen ratings trump talent, accountants run record labels, audiences can't think critically and historical context of any kind has the cachet of a venereal disease.
So, while we'd like to see Charlotte's progeny of Dylan, Pavement or Public Enemy blow minds at these upcoming auditions, we can't in good conscience encourage it. Unless it's just for shits and giggles, of course -- then by all means, have at it, and may the safest candidate win!
Bright Eyed, Bushy Tailed ... or not: Power poppers gogoPilot hope to solicit your best (or worst) "Waking Up" photo for their video of the same song that opens their latest record, Manana, Mon Frere. They seek photos chronicling the beautiful morning You; the still-asleep, bed-headed, snooze button-beating, semi-clothed, maybe even hung-over you. They'll also contemplate shots of you drinking coffee, eating cereal, exiting the shower or other early a.m. activities suitable for posterity. Mail your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Odds 'n' Ends: The Tosco Music Party needs volunteers for its Saturday, Jan. 26, show at Halton Theater on the CPCC campus. Would-be ushers, runners, greenroom set-uppers, performer check-in table attendants, merchandisers and stage set-up folk should contact http://www.toscomusicparty.org. ... The Houstons' latest, Still, was released nation-wide on Jan. 1 -- though only digitally -- and cracked CMJ's Top 200 in its first week at #142 ... The Charlotte Music Awards will host its first Blues Showcase at the Double Door Inn on Thursday, Jan. 24, starting at 8 p.m. Performing will be Bayou Butch, the Contagious Blues Band, Archie Huntley (Golden Eagle) and WSNB ... Bowie fans, take note: The 5th Annual Fool's Brigade -- The Music of David Bowie -- takes place Friday, April 4; this year's charity is the Metrolina Aids Project. Stay tuned to this space for updates as the big Ziggy day approaches ... Say, friend, do you have experience as a Corporate Account Executive but always had a hankering to work in college radio? If so, WSGE on the Gaston College campus may be looking for you; http://www.wsge.org for the low-down ... Local indie label Deep Elm hopes you'll help one of their acts, Muckafurgason, win the Red Peters Comedy Music Hour contest on Sirius' Howard Stern 101 for their song "You Ain't A Man Until You Had A Man." You can vote at http://www.sirius.com/howard101, and maybe win a Satellite radio in the process ... Congratulations to the Goldenrods' Benji Hughes, whose song "Let's Duet" is featured in Walk Hard, the John C. Riley music-bio spoof ...
Recording News: In progress or recently finished at Old House studio: twang-rocker Bill Noonan is at work on his the follow-up to his 2006 debut, Catawba City ... The Trouble Walkers -- you may remember them a couple months ago as Hot Rod Grease Lightning -- recently wrapped basic tracks for 12 songs ... At Catalyst Recording: classically trained pianist Alex Mauldin recently finished Plugged In Live (Herring Records), described as an electronica-meets-classical fusion, and Blue Static finished their self-released, grunge-informed debut, Young Pretty Faces ... Kinnickinnick has some vinyl/CDR-only releases in store for March, including a split 12-inch with Missing Children and Unsolved Mysteries, a Black Congo, N.C. full-length, and a yet-to-be-named solo project 12-inch from Ben Gelnett ...