Reality Rocks - Archive

Reality Televsion Vs. Reality

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

So I was watching my new favorite show, The Next Great American Band, and I got to thinking. Yes, reality TV can actually make a person think sometimes!

See, I was reflecting on the first two bands to get eliminated, the Hatch and the Likes Of You, and I realized that of this season's 12 contestants, those two bands were ironically the ones most likely to get radio play and record deals in the "real world." Not the television show The Real World, mind you, but the ACTUAL real world.

The Hatch had Maroon 5-ish good looks and a vaguely inoffensive Matchbox Twentyish sound that seemed to be right up celebrity judge and fellow music hack Johnny Rzeznik's alley. The studio-musician-proficient Likes Of You were basically Five For Fighting Part II (which, I guess if you're speaking strictly mathematically, would make them Seven For Fighting). But you know, neither band made for good TV.

You want good TV? Good TV is:

--a group of 13-year-old metalheads (Light Of Doom, my personal faves)

--a family of banjo-plucking country kin (The Clark Brothers)

--a hard-charging power trio whose bassist overcame a debilitating stroke and triumphantly lived to rock again (The Muggs)

--a band of moonshine-swigging bluegrass bumpkins (Cliff Wagner & The Old #7)

--a troupe of Ritalin-deprived emo weirdos wearing the entire contents of their local Maybelline factory on their pasty faces and a positively ozone-eating amount of Aquanet on their geometric hairstyles (Dot Dot Dot)

--an all-girl gang of Rizzo-esque badasses (Rocket)

Will any of the bands listed above make it on the radio or MTV? Well, stranger things have happened, but my guess, probably not. However, one of these acts IS probably going to win The Next Great American Band.

See, the thing is, what people want to watch on their TV screens ain't necessarily what people want to hear on their radios or iPods. For instance...anyone remember Rock Star: Supernova? In the words of Tommy Lee: That show was awesome, dude! Everyone had their favorite contestant: little glam gnome Lukas Rossi, scary South African rock bitch Dilana, that bald guy from Iceland, that six-pack-flaunting Australian heartthrob who briefly popularized the slang term "evs." Everyone wanted to hear what ridiculous thing Tommy "Hatchet Man" Lee was going to say next or see what ridiculous Mystery-from-The Pickup Artist outfit Dave Navarro was wearing. Hell, that show even made Guns N' Roses second-stringer Gilby Clarke (who incidentally, never recorded any albums with GNR except for that Spaghetti Incident covers disc) famous for 15 more minutes. But did ANYONE want to buy the Rock Star Supernova album? Did anyone go see them in concert? Can anyone name a single original Supernova song? The answer to all three questions is sadly a big fat no, no, and no. So now Motley Crue are actually suing Tommy Lee's manager for making the Crue look silly by even booking Tommy on such a show.

Another example is Taylor Hicks. He won American Idol by the biggest landslide in the show's history. He never once landed in the bottom three. A nation of Soul Patrollers had his voting number programmed in their speed-dials. All of America tuned in week after week to marvel at his drunk-dad-at-a-wedding dance moves and unique taste in purple velvet smoking jackets. But his post-Idol album, despite a good first-week showing (it debuted at #2), sold about one-jillionth of the units that fourth-place runner-up Chris Daughtry did. Taylor Hicks soon plummeted off the charts, and now rumor has it that Taylor's already been dropped from his record label. The bottom line is, millions of VIEWERS wanted to see the silver-haired underdog triumph over adversity (and over Simon Cowell), but that didn't mean millions of LISTENERS wanted to buy his radio-unfriendly brand of Doobie Brotherly rock 'n' soul.

Look at Jessica Simpson, even. Newlyweds made her a superstar. Nope, no amount of ProTooled-to-perfection pop songs or sexy music videos or Bally's commercials or That '70s Show cameos could generate the kind of publicity she got from chronicling her ill-fated marriage on reality TV. But hands up: Who actually bought the former Mrs. Lachey's last album, A Public Affair? I rest my case.

So what does this mean for the winner ofThe Next Great American Band? Well, if my beloved Light Of Doom wins, then I hope this blog's previous paragraphs were just a waste of wear-&-tear on my carpal-tunneled wrists, and that I'm totally wrong and those boys rake in millions of dollars (not to mention millions of tween groupies). But just as we're not seeing any winners of America's Next Top Model on the cover of Vogue, and $hamrock from The White Rapper Show has yet to build an Eminem-style hip-hop career, it's hardly guaranteed that any winner of any reality talent show will succeed once the cameras stop rolling. So Light Of Doom and their fellow TNGAB contestants may in fact be, well...doomed.

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