I live in the area with the highest concentration of Mormons (they prefer the term LDS, but who are we kidding?) outside the state of Utah, but up until now I’ve managed to avoid any contemporary music geared toward that audience–the closest I got was when the screen devoted to Mormon-focused films at my neighborhood movie theater showed Tears of a King, the tale of Elvis Presley’s possible conversion to Mormonism in the days immediately preceding his death. Today, however, Mormon music is surrounding me on all sides.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this is a blog, and this is a post about Vanilla Ice, so you know where it’s going: The 5:10 express to snarkopolis. How wrong you are, o cynical reader! Yes, this post is about Vanilla Ice’s new album. And yes, the new album is a fairly horrible amalgam of pseudo-rave, pseudo-metal, pseudo-rap, and awful flow. But though Vanilla Ice may be once again doing something he probably shouldn’t–his rap-metal incursion, making Ron Jeremy look mature, pissing off Suge Knight–he is, at least, doing something new: a covers album. A rap covers album. Called Vanilla Ice is Back: Hip Hop Classics.
Halloween is creeping up, so it’s time for Forbes to publish its list of the highest-earning dead celebrities of the past year. The winner, once again, is Elvis Presley, whose dulcet tones, handsome visage, and rotting carcass pulled in $52 million, nearly $20 million ahead of No. 2, Charles M. Schulz. The other musicians near the top are John Lennon (seventh, $9 million) and Marvin Gaye (13th, $2 million), with ancillaries such as Velvet Underground manager Andy Warhol (eighth, $9 million) and presidential serenader Marilyn Monroe (ninth, $6.5 million) figuring in as well. What’s most noteworthy, though, are two other pieces–one in Forbes, the other in Ad Age–that explains the nature of this list and call parts of it, indirectly, into question.
Ed. note: Chris “dennisobell” Molanphy, our resident chart guru, looks at the upward, downward, and lack of movement on this week’s Billboard charts:
So momentous was the news of Mariah Carey’s triumph on the Hot 100 with “Touch My Body” that Billboard leaked it on Wednesday, a day early. Chart freaks talk about acts beating small records all the time. But it’s not every day that someone beats a mark on the all-time list that involves something as iconic as career No. 1 hits. And it’s even rarer when that record is four decades old and involves the King of Rock & Roll.
And hey, Elvis was only ranked second on the list for total No. 1 hits. (He was, until this week, first place among solo acts.) Even sadder for Presley fans, this same week, another lady bests a record he had all to himself–this time, for most Top 10 hits. As “4 Minutes” makes a 65-point leap to No. 3, Madonna pulls out of a tie with the King, leaving him all shook up with 17 No. 1’s and 36 Top 10s, to Carey’s 18 chart-toppers and Madge’s 37 smashes.
There’s no joy in Graceland today. And if you’re near Abbey Road right now, don’t be surprised if folks there look a bit twitchy, too.
Elvis fans, as you might have guessed, are a bit of a nutty breed. When I was the sort of person who collected and sold records, a woman begged me to sell her a copy of the soundtrack to Roustabout. (Actual begging, I assure you.) She needed it, apparently, to complete her collection of all the Elvis soundtracks. I ended up giving it to her, partially to get her to go away. But to actually consider that there are people out there collecting Elvis soundtracks, as if the movies themselves weren’t bad enough, is somewhat staggering, which may be why it didn’t surprise me to see the latest front of Elvis-related insanity.
Forbes‘s sorta banal (but perversely appetizing) look at “Extreme Eats” isn’t so much extreme in the Travel Channel “eating a pulsating frog’s heart and washing it down with a cup of bat’s milk” sense of the word as “you will have an extremely painful death if you regularly consume these deep-fried abominations.” But greasy, over-the-top junk food constructions are surely the new sign of American ingenuity, as rock’n’roll once was, and Forbes does note the infamous gastronomic impact that popular singers have had on our present extra-extra-extra-cheese culture.
Well, the video for the Elvis/Lisa Marie duet on “In The Ghetto” dropped and the single hit iTunes, and it’s more maudlin that we could have even dreamed. The song itself is just a semi-awkward imposition of a new, but not awful, vocal by Lisa Marie on top of dad’s original, just as advertised. More »
Michael A. Gonzales’s essay on the problematic aspects of being a black fan of Elvis Presley is warm, honest, and well written. He captures the simple excitement of young hero-worship, sketches an early Black Rock Coalition meeting in entertaining detail. But toward the end he writes something that had me scratching my head:
In honor of Elvis Week, CBS’ Early Show has talked to a bunch of ladies the King frenched/pitched woo/made eyes at, including his first girlfriend, who claims El was a chaste young man. “It did not get to the heavy petting point,” she says. Suuuuuure. More »
Kicking it with the ghost in the machine, Lisa Marie Presely has recorded a “duet” with her long dead dad of popular Elvis fave “In The Ghetto.” “It’s pretty organic,” Lisa Marie sez of the tune. Huh? This is, like, the most inorganic “collaboration” possible. More »