Sunday, October 01, 2006

beta can't help it

The readers of Beta Blog, the silent dozens, they generally don't turn to this illuminated page for unsigned hype, for the hottest four bars by fourteen-year-olds, for tomorrow's four-digits-sold indie rock sensastions, but I decided to finally embrace my job as a blogger to tell you about the next sensation. I just saw him spit, I think it was on YouTube, though it mebbe he was selling mixtapes outside the Film Forum, near the handball courts. You heard it hear first: Fats Murdock is gonna be huge. His single "Rock Around the Rockpile" is some sick trap-hop meets Hollywood musical shit. He's even cross-marketed into movies already with The Girl Can't Help It.

Never mind what he is actually saying. Okay, he's talking about rock, and how every day he's hustling. Never mind about his skills, what's important here is that he's been in lockdown after thirteen of his boys got gunned down in some St. Valentine's Day type of shit. He's even been shot! The street cred is thick, like Robin Thicke. To finally break out and rush the mainstream, he's even about to mix up his thug profile (which is part Big Pun, part Fat Joe, part Biggie, part...uh, Heavy D) with some R&B crooning. His girl is Jayne Mansfield, who's like the white Foxy Brown, the J.Lo if J. Lo had a front shelf rather than a back, Fergie if Fergie worshipped Satan (and perhaps had some good metaphors).

Okay, so I'm 50 years too late to hype Fats, but The Girl Can't Help It has been popping up around the blogosphere as of late (check the YouTube links here and here) and despite it's half-century age, the revealed machination of music biz hype really hasn't altered all that much. Mafioso muscles, behind the scenes shoving, even the movie itself is but a vehicle to showcase reccording artists. As a historical document, the footage is fascinating: Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Julie London, Abbey Lincoln, Little Richard, Fats Domino, etc. gratuitously plunked into scenes to showcase their newest hits for a broad audience (and not just because Jayne is in attendance). Also intriguing are the failures that are trapped in the celluloid, such as the rock 'n' roll band with the accordion player.

So why does this age better than other documents? Like Mansfield herself, she's not built to last. We laugh about this the other night, watching recent arcana like You've Got Mail and snickering about the sound of dial-up; seeing Kyle MacLachlan use a brick-sized cell phone in Showgirls; watching Jerry extend his antenna on his cordless phone in Seinfeld, seeing how quickly technology renders the moment obsolete. Can you make a movie fast enough to reference Friendster before it plunges down the memory hole irretrievably? A thriller's plotline built around Napster heads straight to video (Tara Reid plays the downloader who accidentally hears an mp3 of a murder; Lou Diamond Phillips plays the streetwise and embittered RIAA agent sent to track down the killer who uploads watermarked CDs, known only online as the "brb killer").

And yet some things never change: that obscure object of desire (Jayne), brute strength (Fats), the new sound of noise (rock'n'roll, trap-hop). Working in a post-production office at the moment, where the editors are cutting a promo video for IDJ, pushing Q4 product like Rick Ross "Hustlin'"; The Killers "When You Were Young"; Rihanna "SOS"; Under the Influence of Giants "Mama's Room" so that the songs repeat all damned day in one form or another, slicing of precious seconds and perfecting segues between unrelated artists, the hypnotic effect of such cut-ups would make Burroughs and Brion Gysin smile. I almost wish that there'd just be a movie instead with everyone making blatant appearances for the sake of the product. Surely some dialogue could connect the above singles. At least then there'd be a chance of such noise resounding as glorious cinematic art in 2056. Will we have to learn to appreciate EPKs and promo videos then? Will there be revival houses for old YouTube clips?