If it's pop music, there has to be a gimmick: something to make you ignore how fundamentally horrible the truth at hand really is and instead focus on how everything is suddenly cool, shiny and NEW. Most "artists" decide to use scantily clad women to get this message across. In some cases, the guys put on make-up and wear frilly clothes. At one time, bands made big, expensive, flashy videos that had nothing to do with the song but made them look tougher and taller than they actually were. Then they'd find an attractive woman and slather oil over her body until she shined. Sometimes they let these women handle power tools, though I'm not sure of the significance. Quite innovative, in some respects.
Then there are those who understand the importance in a name. I know Shakespeare suggested a rose would smell just as sweet if it were called a colonoscopy but then he lacked the courage to give his plays names that would sell. "Romeo And Juliet" just doesn't have much going for it. And "Hamlet"? "Richard the III"? No wonder this guy has never had a toothpaste named after him.
Smart musicians know that if they name a song after a holiday like Christmas, they've got a shot at getting their crappy music on the radio during December. You name a song after a city and your sales go through the roof when you play there. Does Randy Newman really "love L.A." or was he just scheming for a way to get out of parking tickets in the city he lives in? (Newman wrote a song called "Baltimore" and he's been known to perform in that city. Coincidence?)
Since it's August, I decided to think about albums with August in their title and what it all means. It was just as I expected. The three most famous albums with "August" in their title are absolute monstrosities, albums recorded for the sole purpose of making you feel bad about yourself. Yet, people bought them because the novelty just struck them. "Lookit here! This Eric Clapton album is called August and dog-gunnit, it is August. That's gotta mean something.
So here they are, the five albums that ruthlessly exploit the good month of August for their own nefarious gains.
Rose Polenzani - August: OK, Rose's album actually isn't bad. She hung around Chicago until she decided to relocate to the Boston area for the even better weather. She hasn't signed a pact with Satan to get her music better known, but she did name an album August and look at the attention that it's drawn to itself. There are plenty of deserving songwriters who have decent little albums that will NEVER BE WRITTEN ABOUT in this column because their album titles simply don't warrant a cheap plug. Rose was too smart to be defeated. She even played the Lilith Fair and lived to tell about it.
New Radiant Storm King - August Revital: I don't know what Revital is, except some sort of Ginseng extract that makes you stay awake for months at a time. What an August Revital might be is probably about as relevant as what a New Radiant Storm King rules over. Yet, they've been around since 1990 and have now reached this level of fame all because they were smart enough to work this key month into an album title. (Can't you just hear the music business on its knees begging their acts to put something with "January" in the title of their next album, knowing that it will automatically make them candidates for a future "List of the Day" and therefore increase their sales seven-fold? I am completely drunk on power in this moment.) There's even a song called "Misdirected Energy," which is clearly not the case here guys! You done good. Live long and prosper.
Counting Crows - August and Everything After: Ah, finally a group you've heard of. The sighs of relief. And this is where things go downhill. Because this is where it becomes completely obvious how crass and determined these musicians were to become famous at any cost. Scientific studies have proven that people like the Counting Crows in spite of their best interests. It's common knowledge that no one wants to sing the sha-la-la parts of that "Mr. Jones" tune, yet no one can stop themselves. Certainly the cast of Friends didn't want to date the band's lead singer. But they had to. If was as if they were under an evil spell or the influence of an undetectable drug. Oh my sweet Satan!
Eric Clapton - August: Now Eric ran out of ideas years ago. Why else would he hire Phil Collins to play drums and produce this album? With song titles like "Run," "Walk Away" and "Hold On" on here, it's sad to admit but naming your album August is starting to sound like a masterstroke of inspiration. Clapton's another one of those suspicious characters that makes you wonder if there isn't a Tri-Lateral Commission that implants chips inside of unsuspecting victims that then makes them buy these albums and for a fleeting few moments feel happy about it.
Neil Diamond -- Hot August Night: Ah, the great Satan himself. Neil Diamond with this live album proved once and for all that he would stop at nothing to prove he was an "in-demand" performer. The title is a trick. The implication is that the reason it's a "Hot" August night is because Neil Diamond is the kind of performer who by the sheer power and charisma of his performance can send the temperature of the crowd up, up and away, when the truth of the matter remains: it was a hot August night because it was August. It was also a humid night, something the title neglected to tell you. Hot Humid August Night doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? We only award this con-man a sympathetic nod because he did manage to include among other inspired tunes as "Porcupine Pie" and "Crunchy Granola Suite" a song called "Soggy Pretzels," indicating that he was at least (grudgingly) aware of the night's humidity. Sometimes the truth is simply too strong to ignore.