Let Kanye Be Kanye!

To admire an artist means you are at times forced to defend their non-artistic antics.  To admire Kanye West,  means you’re going to do a lot of defending because for every one memorable musical moment Mr. Kardashian creates two palm-slap upside the head ones.

Kanye’s crap  used to annoy me.  Now after years of not getting it, I’m in on the joke Kanye is playing on everybody else and I approve.

I stopped watching the Grammy Awards ages ago and stopped caring who won longer than that, so I missed Kanye step onstage and scare the shit out of Beck with what looked like a Taylor Swift flashback. Nah. Just kiddin’, folks!   It was a head fake.  Kanye was holding his fire until after the show when Kanye  (aka “Yezus” or just “Ye” to his friends) unleashed a volley on Beck and he wasn’t kidding. Or maybe he was.

I’m not bothered when Kanye jacks these stupid award shows by making it all about him. If we couldn’t depend on Kanye pulling out his dick and stepping on it all we’d have to talk about is how Madonna didn’t look as old and creaky as she did in the Super Bowl halftime a few years ago. All award shows are pompous, self-important, self-congratulatory stroke fests and anyone who needs an Oscar, Tony, Grammy, or Emmy to certify their own tastes has bigger problems than another Kanye rant.

Sing ‘Loser?” Never heard of it.

“Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé,”

I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain’t gonna play with them no more. “Flawless,” Beyoncé video. And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé and at this point, we tired of it. Because what happens is when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day. And they listen to that Beyoncé album and they feel like it takes them to another place. Then they do this whole promotional event, that, you know, they’ll run the music over somebody’s speech, the artist, because they want a commercial advertising. Like no, we not playing with them no more. And by the way, I got my wife, I got my daughter, and I got my clothing line so I’m not going to do nothing to put my daughter at risk — but I am here to fight for creativity. That’s the reason why I didn’t say anything tonight. But y’all know what it meant when ‘Ye walked on the stage.

Am I the only one who wonders why Kanye is so protective of Beyonce and her divine right to win every award in the world and why he still gets invited to these shows?  This could all be easily avoided.  After Michael Moore pissed all over the Oscars after winning for Bowling For Columbine, the powers that be stopped nominating his documentaries. Problem solved.   Then we can get back to talking about Old Madonna.

Kanye publicly showing his ass has become as predictable as his wife baring hers. It’s what he does and if you can’t see this part him/part performance art, you’re missing the joke. Enter Shirley Manson, lead singer of the rock band Garbage,  who received much online love for delivering a succinct bitch slap to Yeezus in one devastating Facebook post.

“Hi, Kanye. A word?”

“Dear Kanye West,

It is YOU who is so busy disrespecting artistry.

You disrespect your own remarkable talents and more importantly you disrespect the talent, hard work and tenacity of all artists when you go so rudely and savagely after such an accomplished and humble artist like BECK.

You make yourself look small and petty and spoilt.

In attempting to reduce the importance of one great talent over another, you make a mockery of all musicians and music from every genre, including your own.

Grow up and stop throwing your toys around.

You are making yourself look like a complete twat.

P.s. I am pretty certain Beyonce doesn’t need you fighting any battles on her account. Seems like she’s got everything covered perfectly well on her own.”

Kanye considers himself a musical genius to be mentioned in the same breath as Stevie Wonder,  Miles Davis or The Beatles but he’s not about to wait until a decade after he’s dead to get his due.   He’s going to claim it right here and clearly he considers Beyonce and Jay-Z to be among his peers. Taylor Swift and Beck are definitely not.    Is is rude he said so publicly instead of privately?

I’m a bigger fan of Shirley than Kanye, but she was a little hard on him, after all he was only listening to the voices in his head.   “I was asked my opinion and I was given a platform. And when given a platform, it’s very hard as we know – and I’m going to talk in third person like I’m a crazy person – but it’s very hard for Kanye West to not be very true and vocal to what he feels.”

Whether driven by impulse or calculation, if Kanye is predictable at least he isn’t boring like the Grammy Awards are.  It’s like he told Rolling Stone in 2007,  “Rock stars can give their fucking opinion without having to deal with . . . what’s that thing I get dealt with every day of my life? Oh, yeah. Backlash.”


Shirley Manson and Garbage: The Trick Is to Keep Breathing.

The nice thing about catching up with a band when they’ve called it quits is you don’t have to suffer along with the fans in watching them start to suck.  I just read an article that Foreigner, Styx and Kansas are announcing a tour with tickets as low as $10 bucks.   That’s about $9.50  more than I’d pay to see the desiccated remains of three seventies arena rock bands.   If they paid me $20 bucks I’d consider going, but I wouldn’t stay for the show.  Once Styx starts doing “Lady” I’m looking for my car keys.

Garbage was never a big time band, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t make a big noise.  They were three homely dudes backing up a really skinny chick singer from Scotland who shared a surname with America’s first hippie serial killer.  Shirley Manson is like the girl you knew in high school who wore out of style clothes that looked like thrift store leftovers and everyone treated like shit.    Maybe you were the one person who didn’t treat her like a complete loser and found her to be a little lonely, a lot misunderstood and just needing a little human kindness and maybe a better brand of soap and deodorant.

Garbage. The band. Not the stuff you toss out.

Manson, sounds like the red-haired prodigy of a one-night stand between Chrissie Hynde and Madonna and blessed with a voice that can sing dirty rock n’ roll and pure pop with a nasty twist to it.   She has a very pretty voice and with her clear diction you get the feeling she’d be equally at home belting out big ballads as she is doing the darkly subversive music of Garbage.

On only four albums, Garbage, driven by the studio wizardry of Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson and matched by Manson’s goth-on-steroids lyrics of doom, bad sex, and bad relationships, made interesting, if not overly successful music.

Garbage never had much in the way of  “hits.”  Songs like  “I Think I’m Paranoid”,  “Queer” and  “Bleed Like Me” are coming from places too strange for the Brittany Spears/Lady GaGa crowd.   What the band is best known for is the theme song from a mediocre James Bond flick,  The World Is Not Enough and “#1 Crush”, the creepiest tune about obsession since “Every Breath You Take.”   Only Manson is a lot more convincing as a psychopathic stalker than Sting when she intones when dead-eyed clarity, “I would die for you/I would kill for you.”

Even if recent James Bond movies have a pretty lousy track record lately of themes (Madonna, Chris Cornell, Jack White and Alica Keys), Garbage performing “The World Is Not Enough” is a highlight that has grown on me in a way Madonna’s “Die Another Day” never did.   Manson is paired off with a  60-piece orchestra and she’s got nowhere to hide.   She admitted to being intimidated by the setting, but you’d never know from how professionally she carries it off.

Absolute Garbage, the obligatory “best of” album is the best introduction to Manson’s enduringly bleak look at love, sex and relationships and a good jumping on point that the individual albums aren’t for someone just looking for the best of Garbage.  Most meat.  Less cereal fillers.

Manson wears her “not a pretty girl with double-d’s” persona like a badge of honor.  She knows full well she’s no centerfold and she’s not going to grace the cover of Maxim.   But she understands the power of sex, the appeal of bad girls and how to affect an air of bored indifference when she couldn’t be more  intently interested in everything going on around her.

I like Absolute Garbage a lot.  I played it for an entire week when I bought it and I need to hear it every so often.  The creepiness of “#1 Crush” contrasts with the subversive playfulness of “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)” and the bleakness of “Bleed Like Me” all appeals to me because Shirley delivers the goods with such authenticity that even when she’s weirding me out, it comes off as sincere and not the least bit contrived.

Garbage is supposedly reuniting for another album which means the possibility for more Shirley Manson strangeness will be seeping through my headphones.   I can hardly wait.

(Disclaimer: It occurs me that it’s the wrong time to wait until a musician, actor, athlete or comedian passes away before they get an appreciation.  Periodically,  I want to say something nice about the living.  Some of these shout-outs will be of interest only to me.  Then again, it’s my blog, so I suppose the first person I need to please is myself, right?)