#27: Oscar Season Is Basically The Worst

#27: Oscar Season Is Basically The Worst

The trail of tears that is Oscar season mercifully ends Sunday night, and we couldn't be happier about it. We're not here to make predictions or complain about the ceremony, because what's the point? Isn't time we all just accepted the Oscars as what our Scott Tobias calls "a tedious mediocrity"? With that in mind, we share some of our hopes for winners. Our hopes for the current wave of dance music are similarly low, but this year's Grammy ceremony showed acts like Deadmau5 and Skrillex can't be denied. But they're not so far removed from rock, as we discuss. The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills isn't far removed from great television, according to A.V. Club writer Emily Yoshida. It has us wondering if reality TV can ever be great, and what the limits of exploitation are. We close out the episode by checking in with the podcasters behind the Los Angeles Podcast Festival and Extracurricular Activities.

:00 - Intro
:59 - Scott Tobias, Keith Phipps, and Tasha Robinson discuss embracing the Oscars' mediocrity, and who they're hoping to win
13:51 - Steven Hyden and Genevieve Koski discuss the rise of aggro dance music and explain what a Skrillex is
28:56 - Emily YoshidaTodd VanDerWerff, and Genevieve Koski discuss if reality TV offer truly great television
46:10 - Comedy Film Nerd hosts Graham Elwood and Chris Mancini talk about the LA Podcast Festival
58:44 - Extracurricular Activities with Scott, Tasha, and Kyle

Related stuff
For Our Consideration: I like/hate The Artist: How the Academy Awards slant our views of movies
This Was Pop: January 7, 2012
Skillex Gets Deep on the Cusp of the Grammys [Village Voice]
The New Rave Generation [Spin]
For Our Consideration: Facing reality: How a docu-soap became as compelling as any scripted show
Los Angeles Podcast Festival Kickstarter
Comedy Film Nerds
Luck
Last Year At Marienbad
My Friend Dahmer [A.V. Club review]

Listener mail:

Bob from Seattle on our recent discussion of band reunions:

I enjoyed the discussion about the worth of reunion albums and tours.

I think one thing that wasn't noted was the complete lack of financial incentive to make new albums. 30-plus years ago a band would to tour to "support" an album, to drive more radio play and thus to drive sales. Touring made money, but the labels insisted on having new product to sell because records, tapes, and cd's were hugely profitable (at least for the labels if not for the artists.)

Nowadays the only real money is in touring. Ongoing bands like Wilco make their healthy profits through playing live shows, which gives them the freedom to make albums for fun (that never sell millions of copies.) At the indie level, making jangly, semi-popular music is a hobby funded through touring. So it's a wonder that Van Halen felt the need to record new material at all, since they will personally profit more from three nights of shows than they will with a year's worth of new record sales, and since they clearly aren't driven to make music or they might have put out something in less than 14 years. A reunited band has to feel pretty inspired to bother with writing and recording new stuff.

That said, after we heard on the same episode a reviewer claim that the Phantom Menace was better than Return of the Jedi, I do wonder if the new Van Halen record is as good as their least good record of their original run. I think that would be Fair Warning. I would like a comparison. If they could match or outdo their lamest original album, I'd be impressed.

Sometimes reunions result in good new music: I think the New York Dolls reunion album One Day it Will Please Us to Remember Even This stands up there with their original two studio albums New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon. 6 years later I go back to it often. (The later reunion discs didn't match up, but I don't mind listening to David Johansen try to be a rock star again.)

And by the way my dream reunion album of the moment would be that Rick Rubin would produce the Everly Brothers. I use to dream of seeing the Kinks but I'm not sure Dave is up to it after his stroke. Also I'd like to say that there were rumors of a mid-90s Clash reunion, and that's one example of a reunion I'm glad didn't happen--because everything they did for 6 years had such vitality, urgency, and principle, and they couldn't have matched that. I mean, I got the "Live at Shea Stadium" album a couple of years ago, and it just blows me away that at the moment when they were getting really big through MTV and opening for the Who in a stadium, they opened by pummelling the audience with the unrestrained pop militancy of London Calling, Police on my Back. the Guns of Brixton, and Tommy Gun. A stadium show here in the US starting that way these days would be unimaginable. The only noble thing they could have done in the mid-90s would have been to again self-destruct and try to take the audience with them, and I doubt that would have been possible in the sterilized environment of most Lollapalooza venues. 

Oh, also I want to say that I like the trend of bands resurrecting old unused material--particularly, the Rolling Stones have issued bonus discs for their Exile on Main Street and Some Girls reissues, and they have recorded new parts and vocals (with some new lyrics) with Don Was to fill it all out, and the results have been the best new Stones discs since 1981's Tattoo You (which was itself an album built around old discarded tapes.) They aren't as good as the original lps, but they are light years beyond all their new albums of the last 30 years--and these guys still have talent, they just have to be reminded of what makes their songs tick, and working with old song outlines seems to put them in the right frame of mind to remember who they are supposed to be. I hope this trend continues.

Bob Downing
Seattle, WA

Direct your comments to discussions@avclub.com, or leave us a voicemail at 314-AVCLUB0.

Subscribe to Reasonable Discussions
iTunes
FeedBurner