For the record, no one at Yahoo! Music has ever written a record review without actually listening to the record first. While it's admittedly pretty easy to guestimate what, say, the new Jessica Simpson or Hilary Duff album will sound like, and it's tempting to bypass spinning such records entirely, we do still listen to them--so you don't have to!
But unfortunately, the same can't be said for other, possibly lazier publications--namely men's mag Maxim, which came under fire this week after it was revealed that one of its writers had allegedly given the new Black Crowes disc, Warpaint, two and a half out of five stars...without listening to it.
Now, granted, most Maxim subscribers probably don't enjoy the magazine chiefly for its articles. (And any guy who claims otherwise is likely a liar.) But it's the principle of the matter here. What if some Maxim "reader," skimming over a softcore pictorial of Heidi Montag in La Perla lingerie, stumbled upon that so-so Crowes review and subsequently made the semi-educated decision not to buy Warpaint? True, there might not be a lot of cross-over between fans of beardy, hangdoggy Crowes frontman Chris Robinson and Maxim's flanks-flaunting "Hometown Hotties"...but hey, such a scenario still isn't too far-fetched.
So Chris and company protested the uninformed review on the Black Crowes' website, pointing out that no advance copies of the album had been sent to press and that only the first single, "Goodbye Daughters Of The Revolution," had been made available so far.
"Maxim's actions seem to completely lack journalistic integrity and intentionally mislead their readership," Crowes manager Pete Angelus declared. "When confronted with the fact that they never heard the album they are claiming to 'review' in their music section--with a star rating, no less--they attempt to explain that it was an 'educated guess.' What's next? Maxim's concert reviews of shows they never attended, book reviews of books never read, and film reviews of films never seen?"
Hey, Pete, don't give Maxim any ideas!
Anyway, after rapper Nas came forward and claimed that a similar uniformed review of his (yet-unfinished) album also ran in Maxim, the magazine's presumably red-faced editorial director, James Kaminsky, publicly expressed regret over this little gaffe, stating: "It is Maxim's editorial policy to assign star ratings only to those albums that have been heard in their entirety. Unfortunately, that policy was not followed in the March 2008 issue of our magazine, and we apologize to our readers."
But Pete Angelus is a man who likes to hold a grudge. Via the Crowes website, he flat-out rejected Maxim's plea for forgiveness, countering with:
"In my opinion, Maxim's fabrication of an album review is highly unethical and indefensible. This issue potentially pertains to all artists and their craft, and a publication which apparently has no respect for either....Maxim's 'apology' is self-serving damage control by failing to mention the Black Crowes. The appropriate action from Maxim is to immediately issue a public apology to the Black Crowes for disparaging both the band and their soon to be released new album Warpaint without having heard the material."
At this point, the scribe at the center of this controversy, David Peisner, spoke about the scandal to the Los Angeles Times, claiming his write-ups were showcased inappropriately and presented out of context by Maxim:
"I'm a freelance writer. I was assigned to write previews of the Black Crowes and Nas albums. I did that. When the issue came out, the previews were laid out as reviews complete with star ratings. I never at any point or to anyone claimed to have heard these albums in their entirety. Whatever decisions Maxim made after I turned in my work were beyond my control."
And so, the Warpaint war continues...
Ironically, when the Maxim staff and the public at large finally do get to hear Warpaint when it's released next week, chances are it'll be a non-wheel-inventing Southern rock retread, and we all realize that Peisner's "educated guess" was pretty accurate after all. (Let's face it, as great as the Crowes are, no one's expecting them to release an album of techno remixes or acid jazz. They do what they do.) And all the publicity the Crowes are getting over this incident is far more high-profile than any record review--positive or negative--could have afforded them. So in the end, everyone wins! So screw credible music journalism, right? Right?
In other news regarding frequent press punching bags, Michael Jackson better be glad his Thriller: 25 reissue debuted at #2 on the charts this week, because he's clearly got money troubles. Yes, Jacko might be holding the most wacko estate sale ever, as his world-infamous Neverland Ranch will go up for auction unless he pays the more than $24 million he still owes on the property. No word if Bubbles The Chimp, the Elephant Man's bones, or MJ's oxygen tent will be available for sale, but other Michael memorabilia, like his merry-go-round, just might be yours for a song if this auction takes place. Seems like The Guy Who Has Eveything might be losing everything. The thrill is gone, indeed.
And in other journalistic news, Eminem, who famously spoofed Michael Jackson in his "Just Lose It" video, is about to go public himself, by writing his memoirs. Eminem: The Way I Am is due out in late '08, and will chronicle Marshall's trailer-park upbringing, family troubles, two failed marriages with Kim Mathers, etc. And while the rapper has never been one to shy away from putting his life on warts-and-all display, this latest Shady endeavor may be his deepest and darkest yet. That's probably why his label, Interscope--which is still awaiting the completion of Em's first studio album in three years, King Mathers--isn't too thrilled about this announcement.
"There is no firm release date scheduled, although it is anticipated to arrive in the latter part of this year," the label said in a statement. "It's unfortunate that someone who does not have intimate knowledge of [the project] felt compelled to jump the gun on announcing it by delivering partial and inaccurate information."
Hey, Interscope, it could be worse. Maxim could review the book without reading it--per Pete Angelus's suggestion!
Meanwhile, two other blonde pop stars who probably won't be penning their autobiographies any time soon (because let's face it, Maxim or even Bubbles The Chimp are more qualified for the task) are former party pals Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. But they made the news anyway this week, thanks to their associations with their latest male companions.
First, Paris went public with her relationship with Good Charlotte rocker Benji Madden. Now, the fact that the heiress of them all is dating someone new would not normally be blog-worthy, since Paris changes boyfriends more often than she changes her hair extensions. But her latest affair is notable because Benji is the twin brother of Nicole Richie's Good Charlotte babydaddy, Joel Madden...which means on/off BFFs Paris and Nicole could very well one day become sisters-in-law, should their repsective Madden romances work out. And if that's the case, don't rule out another season of The Simple Life just yet!
Unsurprisingly, Britney made headlines this week for much sadder reasons. (We at That's Really Week truly long for the happier days of yore, when Brit was only in the news for kooky stuff like forgetting to wear underwear or annulling quickie Vegas marriages.) Anyway, this week Los Angeles police began looking into allegations that "someone" drugged Britney (though they have not opened a formal investigation). Britney's mother recently claimed in court papers that restraining-ordered former manager Sam Lutfi drugged Britney in a Howard K. Stern-like attempt to take control of Brit's life...but officials haven't confirmed whether Sam is the "someone" in question here.
All we can say is, IF it can be proven that Britney's been unwittingly doped up during the past year, much of her bizarre behavior--the head-shaving (and the pink Frenchie-from-Grease wig that followed), the bug-eyed umbrella attack, the dead-eyed VMA performance, the split-personality lapses into a Mary Poppins Cockney accent, the standoff with child custody services, etc.--would suddenly all be explained away. Sometimes it seems like there could really be no other explanation for Britney's wackiness...so we eagerly await the LAPD's findings. As, we're sure, does Mama Lynne Spears.
And thus concludes another wild, weird week in music. Do come back next Friday for more headspinning headlines (and we pinky-swear that if those stories include any album reviews, we will have listened to the albums in question). Until then, goodnight and good music.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) Black Crowes Cry Foul - They complain that Maxim ran a review without every hearing their album.
2) Never Say Neverland - Michael Jackson's fantasy estate is going up on the chopping block.
3) Drug Me Baby One More Time? - Police investigate claims that Britney Spears was drugged against her will.
4) Mad About Madden - Paris Hilton starts dating Nicole Richie's brother-in-law.
5) Once In A Lifetime Victory - Two Irish buskers from indie film Once unexpectedly win the Best Song Oscar.
6) Aint' Talkin' 'Bout Love - Valerie Bertinelli admits she cheated on ex-hubby Eddie Van Halen.
7) Label Throws The Book At Eminem - Interscope complains about publicity for Slim Shady's upcoming autobiography.
8) Top 12 To Cover The Fab 4 - American Idol finally gets access to the full Beatles songbook.
9) Tila Tequila Gives Music A Shot - The MySpace starlet releases a new pop single and video.
10) Jessica's A Real Trooper - Ms. Simpson is heading overseas to sing for the soliders.