Editor’s note: this post is the fourth in a series of posts covering the Most Important Musicians of the Aughts. Click here to view prior articles: Part I, Part II, Part III.



CORONA:

Damn it, Bryan. I already exhausted my diatribe on JT. I feel like JJ Redick coming out of the ACC Tourney: I've already shown my cards, my legs are heavy for playing 38 of 40 minutes the last three straight games. I don't know if I have another rebuttle in me ...

Wait a minute. What would Wojo do?

And we're back!

Agree with you that Timberlake is remarkably talented, successfully maneuvered the music industry (remarkably how stark the difference when compared to his former girlfriend, Britney). One could argue that he could be just as successful as a permanent cast member on SNL. Talented, accomplished, and decorated, he's a feel-good story, an example of what should be celebrated in the entertainment industry. But therein lies the rub: I would argue that Timberlake is more entertainer than artist.

What do I mean by this? Essentially, an artist reflects the imperfections of the world in his/her craft, whereas an entertainer dances around them. Further, I'd argue that audience expectations are notably different: we watch/listen to artists to be inspired; we watch/listen to entertainers when we want to forget the real world. Quite literally speaking, he is to Bob Hope as Ryan Seacrest is to Dick Clark. While Timberlake has demonstrated musical chops, I would wager that in ten year's time he will not be known for his music but instead for this ... or this ... or this. Entertaining? Absolutely? Will it influence musicians? Aside from crossover potential, I say no. And for that reason, I give you the Dikembe finger-wag for placing him in your starting five.

Besides, I am jealous that he is a six handicap.

My next pick is also for the Small Forward position. How important is this role? Consider the greats who have played this position: Dr. J, James Worthy, Scottie Pippen, Lebron and, of course, Basketball Jesus. Arguably the most versatile player on the court, the Small Forward views the game from a completely different angle than everyone else. As Bryan wrote, the position demands a player who can drive the lane, creating opportunities by use of their scoring potential as well as their ability to get to the line.

Many of the aforementioned players earned reputations as Point Forwards, essentially running the offense for their respective teams. Based on their unique position on court, the Small Forward often can see opportunities develop ahead of time. Further, the Small Forward is often a "tweener" player, viewed on paper as too small to play against Power Forwards and too slow to play against Guards. What makes a good number 3 a great number 3 is the ability to blend both agility and physicality to expose defenses weaknesses. The greats put both of these advantages to good use, creating spectacular plays which the rest of us don't see until it's relived in the land of replay. And it is the notion of seeing opportunity before everyone else ... on the court, on the benches, in the arena as a whole ... why the next musician is my pick for Small Forward.





#2 (at Small Forward): BRIAN BURTON

I predict readers will respond to this pick in one of two ways: nodding heads or confused looks (note: I predict Mr. Rakowski will fall into the former). We'll get to the second reaction in a minute and dive right into the details.

As a Producer, Burton played a pivotal role in some of the decade's most popular and/or most critically acclaimed albums, including:

  • Gorillaz: Demon Days (6 million copies worldwide)
  • Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere and The Odd Couple (over 6 million copies worldwide, also the first single to ever reach #1 in the UK on downloaded sales alone)
  • Beck: Modern Guilt (US and UK Certified Gold)
  • The Good, The Bad, and The Queen (UK Certified Gold)

    In terms of commercial success, checkmark. In addition, he has been hailed as a pioneer in the music industry:

  • 2005 Grammy Nominee, Producer of the Year (on Demon Days)
  • 2006 Grammy Nominee, Producer of the Year (on St. Elsewhere)
  • 2008 Grammy Nominee, Producer of the Year (on Modern Guilt)
  • Esquire Magazine (2009), 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century
  • Paste Magazine (2009), Producer of the Decade (2000 – 2009)

  • Brian Burton

    In the case of the Gnarls Barkley collaboration, Burton was not only the producer, but was also the lead instrumentalist and co-writer of the Best Song of the Decade, according to Rolling Stone magazine. Thus far, a very compelling argument as a producer, musician, and song writer. But I'm just getting started. Let's go back to the two reactions I predicted from readers. If you're wondering why this man is not a household name ... well, he is. He just chooses to go by a pseudonym: Danger Mouse.

    The Danger Mouse moniker should tip off most, but for good measure let's review the two other callouts from his resume. The most obvious place to begin is his 2004 album, The Grey Album, a mashup of Jay-Z's a cappella version of The Black Album remixed by sampling The Beatles "White Album". Let's take a minute to consider the implications of such an effort:

  • The White Album is ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as tenth greatest album of all time, sold over 19 million albums in the U.S. alone, and was considered a sign by Timothy Leary that The Beatles possessed God-like powers to create new species (put down the vat of LSD, Timmy). It remains an album so stunning that even the Vatican endorsed it, despite Lennon's "bigger than Jesus" quote. Further, it marked the beginning of the established-band-releases-eponymous-album-to-indicate-good-album gimmick.
  • While arguably not even the most critically acclaimed Black Album, sales (over three million albums in the U.S.) were fueled primarily by the supposed retirement of Sean Carter [Side note: as I noted in the Best of 2004 blog, claims of retirement by those who rap about coming back "like Jordan, wearing the 4-5" shouldn't be taken seriously. Everyone under the Sun assumed he was simply taking a few years off]. Carter assembled a who's who list of producers, each of whom produced a track (or two, in Kanye's case). The subsequently released a cappella version, serving as a challenge from Roc-A-Fella to all independent producers: we have assembled the best-of-the-best ... show us we can be outdone.

    Initially intended by Burton as something cool to share with his friends, The Grey Album transcended the idea of sampling and represented a full deconstruction of both albums. He scoured The Beatles' two disc album to find the perfect drum beats, bass lines, guitar riffs, and accompanying vocals to create a masterpiece. For example, on "December 4th", Gloria Carter (Jay-Z's mother) is supported by samples of "Mother Nature's Son". The dramatic versus of "99 Problems" are fully supported (nearly upstaged) by the use of "Helter Skelter". On "Moment of Clarity", a song in which Jay-z openly reflects on his choice to peddle drugs, accepting the risk of early death or imprisonment, "Happiness Is a Warm Gun". And in my opinion, nothing tops "Encore", which when mashed with "Glass Onion" creates the once-in-a-lifetime sound of John Lennon accompanying Jay-Z ... as if they were in the studio intending to make the song together in the first place. What the listener hears isn't a remix, but an innovative artistic creation in and of itself. While The Black Album was critically regarded as some of Jay-Z's best work, once you hear The Grey Album it's hard to ever revert to the original. Burton's work inspired not only other mashups, from The Double Black Album (Metallica) to The Black and Blue Album (Weezer) to The Brown Album (Coltrane), but also other art forms like The Grey Video.

    Now there is an argument to questioning the commercial success of this album. After all, EMI (The Beatles label) filed a cease and desist order as soon as they learned of Danger Mouse's plans. But therein lies an even stronger argument about what makes this arguably the most important album of the decade. As soon as audiophiles caught wind of the album, it quickly spread through cyberspace, catching the attention of EMI. Here's where the story gets interesting: in an era where the RIAA was suing individuals for sharing music files via Kazaa, one would have expected the album to die a quiet death. But the exact opposite happened: scores of Websites coordinated February 24, 2004 to mark "Grey Tuesday", a day of civil disobedience in which the album was made available for free download. One hundred thousand free copies later, EMI acquiesced and dropped its intentions to litigate.

    Why do I spend so much time on an album that never generated a dollar's worth of revenue? When Bryan and I initially sought out to define "Important", Bryan suggested the following:

    "Influential = affects culture, society (maybe a little much), that genre, or music industry in general in a positive way."

    As soon as I read "society", this became an obvious pick for me. Consider this: what other musician(s) can you name which caused demonstrations and protests because of there music? Follow-up question: how many of those musicians caused protests as a sign of civil disobedience? (hint: you can exclude R. Kelly from your list now).

    I liken The Grey Album to Indiana State's first basketball game in 1976. Were there Point Forwards before Larry Legend? Certainly. Were there any white basketball players who were good enough to no longer be categorized as good players despite being white? Of course. But could anyone have imagined a college dropout re-enrolling and returning to the basketball court two full years later; and beyond that, run the offense as a 6' 9" Forward? Absolutely not. In a sense, Burton pulled off the same trick against the RIAA: while Danger Mouse didn't invent the mashup, he created the gold standard from an artistic perspective, set the benchmark from an infamy perspective, and opened the eyes of the general public to music's newest form of art.

    Fast forward to 2009: Danger Mouse is a household name (or at least his associated acts are) and Burton continues to push the envelope's edge in the form of new and ambitious collaborations. His most recent collaboration with Sparklehorse on Dark Night of the Soul is generating significant buzz by music critics. Like a broken record (no pun intended), EMI chose to display its idiocy by attempting to prohibit the album's release due to licensing rights. Again.

    "Danger Mouse is a brilliant, talented artist for whom we have enormous respect. We continue to make every effort to resolve this situation and we are talking to Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) directly. Meanwhile, we need to reserve our rights."

    Burton's response? An album with full artwork was released as planned, with one exception: the disc contained the following caveat:

    "For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.”

    In other words, "Give me the damn ball. You know where I'm taking the rock - try and stop me". Burton's strategy to release a blank disc was predicated that the music would leak over the internet anyway. By doing so, he not only strong-armed EMI into releasing the album, but adjusted his own blueprint to releasing music. Within the span of five years, Burton had twice reinvented the distribution process. Interestingly enough, the album will finally be released this July. To me, this is either a sign that EMI accepts the fact Burton will score however and whenever he chooses, and that attempting to block such a release has (and will) only result in more YouTube clips of EMI being posterized.



    RAKOWSKI:

    Damn you, Mr. Corona. Damn you. Did I consider Gnarls Barkley for my Top 5 list? Of course I did. Did I consider Gorillaz for my Top 5 list? Absolutely. Did I even briefly, fleetingly, crazily consider The Black Keys for my Top 5 list despite the fact that they didn’t reach insane levels of stardom until late in the decade? Why, yes, yes I did. (We’ve already covered Beck and I really could care less about The Good, The Bad, and the Queen.) Each, taken independently as a band, had enough faults to fall outside of my Top 5 Most Important Artists of the Aughts. And rightfully so. However, what I did not do was take a step back and recall the common thread among all of these acts: Danger Mouse.

    Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere got me through an entire summer living by myself in Moscow, Russia. I have extremely fond memories of walking home from the office to relax in my tiny studio apartment with BBC World News on in the background, Spider Solitaire on my laptop, and this album blaring over and over again on the tiny speakers I had (thankfully) decided to bring with me to Mother Russia.

    Well played, Matthew. Well played.

    If you can’t tell, I like this pick. In fact, I’m jealous of this pick and I am absolutely pissed I didn’t think of it first. Maybe if I had spent less time trying to be clever with Simon F***ing Fuller, maybe if I spent less time matching wits against a Sicilian (who clearly put the poison in the cup in front of me) and theorizing who he was going to pick instead of focusing on my own picks ... maybe, maybe, maybe. It’s almost like wondering if Len Bias hadn’t died of a cocaine overdose*, what would the landscape of professional basketball had looked like today? He ain’t coming back, so we’re never going to know.

    *Side note - maybe a better, less morbid comparison is to wonder “what if” the Trailblazers had selected Michael Jordan 2nd overall in 1984 instead of Sam Bowie.

    Ok, before we get to my 5th, final, and most important starter, it’s worth mentioning who I’ve got on my bench to round out this All-Star squad. If one of my Top 5 were to flame out, get hurt (i.e., overdose), get old, or simply get bored dominating the competition, I’ve got to have a full roster of replacements. Think of this as when the All-Star coaches get to round out their roster with the guys they want and not the Starting 5 picked by the fans.

    Also...let’s be clear on two things before we begin:

  • Eminem’s latest release has already secured his spot in my Top 5 Most Important Artists of the ‘10’s. If you have yet to check out this release, I urge you to do so ASAP.
  • By not including, but inherently accepting, the Jack White pick as a brilliant selection by the man on the other side of our nation’s internets from me (not a typo) ... I don’t need to include him on my bench. We’ll know he’ll be at the game regardless.
  • Beck can be there, but I probably won’t need him.
  • I couldn’t care less if Ben Gibbard is on the floor or not. Or in the stadium, for that matter.

    The bench, in bulleted format to preserve your eyes for the novella I plan to write for my #1 pick:

  • DANGER MOUSE – see Corona pick #2 for complete breakdown. This will perhaps go down as my single greatest (worst?) omission from my Top 5 in that I admittedly didn’t “game theory” this one as I did with Jack White. My comments regarding this pick that opened this post are embarrassing enough. Please don’t make me go on.
  • GNARLS BARKLEY and GORILLAZ – Ok, I’ll go on for 1 line more. See above.
  • JAY-Z – I didn’t even begin to like Jay, let alone appreciate his talents, until approximately The Black Album in 2003. I openly loathed “Hard Knock Life”. But for some reason, I changed my mind with the release of “Moment of Clarity”, “99 Problems”, and the like. Now? Love the guy. I’ve since gone back through his catalog and found a new appreciation for his evolution and his development as a rapper, a businessman, and mogul in the industry.
  • RADIOHEAD – pay what you want for an album? Breakthrough idea. Do they continue to push the boundaries of various genres, media, and the like? Of course. In Rainbows alone is almost important enough to have them in consideration, but ultimately, I just didn’t connect with Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief the way most of the rest of the musical literati did. So perhaps this one was plagued by personal bias, but they just didn’t do enough for me to warrant a spot in my top 5. Key role players, perhaps ... which is why they are on my bench.
  • MICHAEL JACKSON – I just had to get him in here somewhere. Even though Invincible was his first studio album in over 6 years, there just isn’t enough work during our focused 10-year timeframe to warrant inclusion on the list. An all-time list? Absolutely and without question. This was perhaps the first “celebrity death” to visibly and/or emotionally have an effect on me. I was truly sad (and still am, sometimes) when I looked back on what we lost just over a year ago. I wish I would have gone to see him in concert, at least once. But you’re damn sure any song of his will get me on a dance floor as long as I can stand on my 2 feet.
  • BEYONCÉ KNOWLES – was she important to this decade? Sure. Does she have ties to dozens of other heavy-hitters? Of course. But again, I just don’t believe there is enough here to warrant inclusion in the Top 5. She’s great at what she does and has been hugely successful across music, movies, and retail but there’s just something lacking that doesn’t give me the impression she’ll be on anyone’s list 50 years from now. But I’ve been wrong before…
  • RASCAL FLATTS – they were the only act in all of music to have 4 Number One albums in the 2000s. They also helped usher in this metrosexual modern country movement where guys get their hair razored and wear shirts Ed Hardy would find tacky. (Note that Kenny Chesney just barely lost out on this spot.)
  • GIRL TALK – a former engineer turned mashup maestro who uses unauthorized samples from hundreds (thousands, by now?) of songs to get throes of the masses worked all into a frenzy. Believe me…I’ve been there and it is awesome. How he hasn’t gotten sued is beyond me, but his album Feed the Animals was #4 on Time’s Top 10 of 2008. A unique (and illegal) enough approach to make some waves in the industry, but those waves have since subsided until, perhaps, he comes out with a new album as he’s rumored to do later this year.
  • JOHN MAYER – before Mayer descended into douche-baggery, I think it is easy to forget this guy was HUGE for most of the decade and has maintained at least some level of that relevance for one reason and one only…dude can freakin’ play (the guitar, that is…get your minds out of the gutter, please). Whether it is his 7 Grammy awards, his respect in the hip-hop community for collaborations with Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Common, his well-publicized (and envious?) personal life, or his foray into blues and jazz…he was in a lot of places in the last 10 years, but none of those places are worthy of getting someone on the starting roster. Although this guest-blogger is cautiously proud to admit that he and some U of M housemates were driving the Mayer Bandwagon way back in 1999 with the release of the EP Inside Wants Out ...a full 2 years before his commercial success. I’m just sayin’…we had a hunch this guy was going to be big.
  • COLDPLAY – eh, what the hell. A CYA (cover-your-a**) pick. Gwyneth would be happy.



    CORONA:

    Wait ... did we just agree? Again?!?

    Two in a row ... we can build on this! And furthermore, I like the idea of briefly addressing our benches. So let’s string this along like a never-ending reunion episode of The Bachelor (huh?).

    Before I run down my bench roster, the obligatory response is due for some of Bryan’s picks:

  • “We’ll know he’ll be at the game regardless.” – That sounds like something Isiah Thomas would say if he were the GM of New York, Miami, or Chicago in the Summer of LeBron.
  • Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) – completely agree with you on this pick. If Danger Mouse should be regarded as the Godfather of the mashup, then Girl Talk is the defender of openly sourced music. Another mashup group worth calling attention: The Avalanches.
  • Rascal Flatts – I’m not going to pretend to understand country music. I draw the line at Ryan Adams, and that’s as far as I’ll go. So I won’t say much on this group. A few things I will point out, though:
  • Another musician who had four number one albums: Radiohead. UK Billboards count very much, in my opinion. Especially when it’s used to unseat a country act as “Only Band to [enter accomplishment here]”.
  • Intentional typo on the last bullet. We’re talking about individuals here, not collective groups.
  • Radiohead – see Rascal Flatts. Let this be the last time I ever mention Rascal Flatts in the same breath as Radiohead.
  • Michael Jackson – I wouldn’t say that I am surprised by this pick. But no question that this is basically the equivalent of a referee blowing a call, then calling a foul to even things out. Jackson would certainly make the Starting Five for the Eighties (and arguably Seventies and/or Nineties). Hell, he could have been the whole starting roster. But Aughts? Absolutely not. Bob Dylan released Love and Theft in 2001, and has one hell of a back catalog. Should we consider him? No, and the primary reason is because of the collection of work within the decade is insufficient for consideration. There is someone else who I think should get the recognition, but we’ll get there in a moment.
  • John Mayer – Ah, I remember when I really like John Mayer. Not as early as Mr. Rakowski, but many, many moons ago. Interesting how early the John Mayer backlash happened in the Aughts. Heavier Things was both a blessing and a curse: songs like “Bigger Than My Body” and “Daughters” made him an instant Mom-favorite and a constant staple on light rock radio stations. The downside (besides being a constant staple on light rock radio stations)? It was because of these songs that I never summoned the patience to listen deeper and learn appreciate his guitar skills. Strange coincidence that you name both Michael Jackson and John Mayer, because Mayer’s version of “Human Nature” at Jackson’s memorial service was way underrated. Admittedly awkward to dig a song that’s played at a memorial service, let alone a memorial service for the King of Pop. But watch the video again, and you realize there are levels to his arrangement: he’s honoring the voice by playing instrumentally, but his styling makes you feel Jackson’s intonations.
  • Coldplay – I really wish that we were talking about Fran Healy instead of Chris Martin, but for a number of reasons we unfortunately aren’t. Therefore, I am left to offer this in rebuttal.
  • Ben Gibbard – I am now convinced that mentioning the name “Ben Gibbard” will have the same effect on Bryan Rakowski as Mary Hart’s voice had on Kramer.

    That said, here is my bench roster for Most Important Musicians of the Aughts:. I limited my bench to seven, keeping in theme with a traditional basketball bench. We have many bench selections in common, so I’ll skip over instances where we’ve both already written ad nauseam about a musician:

     

    6.       (at Shooting Guard) EMINEM – see Part III.

    7.       (at Center) BEYONCÉ KNOWLES – I would consider it unforgivable to not include at least one female in the list, but that shouldn’t suggest that Knowles is a token selection:

    • Most certified music sales of the decade (i.e., albums and song downloads).
    • Appointed by Billboard as top Radio Artist of the Decade.
    • People may have already forgotten about the controversy having Knowles sing “At Last” to the first couple at one of the Inaugural Balls, arguing that Etta James should have sung the song as the original recorder.  Knowles’ response?  Belting it out as part of an Oscar medley.  Only person I know of that can stand toe-to-toe in a feud with one of the greatest voices of all time and make it out alive.
    • Successfully transitioned from Destiny’s Child into a solo career.  You can essentially consider her the female version of Justin Timberlake, although notably less funny.  If we were naming entertainers, she’d most likely make my top five list.

    8.       (at Power Forward) SEAN CARTER (aka JAY-Z) – if you don’t believe that Eminem is the greatest rapper alive, then chances are you believe it is Jay-Z.  And if you don’t, then there is plenty of facts to suggest you should reconsider:

    • Seven albums released during the Aughts, each of them certified Platinum in the U.S.
    • Over 15 million albums sold over a ten year span.
    • As I mentioned earlier in Part IV, he accomplished the first two bullets despite “retiring” from studio albums for two years.
    • What did he do when he retired?  Nothing much – just become CEO of Def Jam Recordings, merging it with his Roc-a-Fella Records.
    • As he rapped on Kanye's "Diamonds from Sierra Leone": "I'm not a businessman, I'm a BUSINESS, man!". Through his entrepreneurial efforts, such as Rocawear, numerous real estate deals, and part ownership of the New Jersey Nets, Carter reportedly carries a net worth of over $150 million.
    • Collaborated in 2003 with then-girlfriend, now-wife Beyoncé Knowles on “Crazy in Love”, eventually being named by Rolling Stone magazine as third best song of the decade.

    9.       (at Point Guard) MADONNA – Yes, you read that right.  I’ll see your Michael Jackson, Mr. Rakowski, and raise you the greatest female musician of all time.  Consider this:

    • Total albums sold 1990 – 1999: three albums released, 31 million copies sold worldwide.
    • Total albums sold 2000 – 2009: four albums released, 31 million copies sold worldwide.
    • Note: The sales figure from the last bullet isn’t a typo.  From a commercial success perspective, she sold almost exactly as many copies as she did the decade before.
    • She set the record for highest grossing tour ever with the Sticky & Sweet Tour, grossing a total of over $800 million during the decade.
    • She released four albums in the Aughts, each of them debuting at number one, sold 31 million copies collectively and was certified five times platinum and one time Gold in the U.S. alone.
    • However, when we talk about Madonna in 2020 (which we undoubtedly will be), we will speak of her Eighties hey-day, her first reinvention as Mrs. Sean Penn, her second and third reinventions in the Blond Ambition tour and liberator of overt female sexuality, respectively.  Eventually, we will get to the epilogue and speak of her many other successes (e.g., how she sold 30 million-plus albums in both the Nineties and Aughts, became a mother, reinvented herself yet again by learning to play guitar, suspiciously developed a Transatlantic accent, etc.).  For this reason, she remains a respected role player (no pun intended) on a bench deep with talent.  Consider her Dr. J, circa 1986.

    10.   NIGEL GODRICH   I initially considered listing Godrich as my back-up Point Guard, but given depth at Point Guard or Point Forward, I decided to take a different route.  After all, out of all the names I’ve mentioned thus far, Godrich’s is most certainly the least recognizable.  So, rather than assign him a position on the court, I’ll opt to designate him as the Worldwide Wes of Music.

    William Wesley (aka Worldwide Wes), to be brief, is the confidant of scores NBA and college basketball players.  Picture a combination of Tom Hagen and The Wolf, someone who is so well-connected that he describes himself as someone with whom it makes “good business sense” to know.  As Big Daddy Trent would say, “Guy behind the guy.”  Making his bones initially fetching tea for production crews, over the last ten-plus years he is known for many accomplishments, including:

    • Producer/Engineer on 26 albums during the Aughts, including Beck, The Beta Band, Gnarls Barkley, Travis, Paul McCartney, and of course ...
    • Widely regarded as the unofficial sixth member of Radiohead
    • Guitarist in Atoms for Peace (Thom Yorke’s side project)

    Godrich is fine with being the man behind the scenes.  After all, he doesn’t want the post-production circus of promoting, touring, etc.  He’s content with being the band’s closest confidant, guiding them on a journey to producing some of the decade’s best music.  It’s no secret that Travis’ The Man Who is one of my favorite albums.  Without Godrich, Travis could very well have fell by the wayside like many Britpop bands of its era.  Instead, it became the U.K.’s number one album of 2000.  If you remember one thing from this blog, remember that you should listen to this masterpiece.  See?  I was able to talk about Fran Healy after all.

    11.   (at Point Guard) CHAD HURLEY, STEVE CHEN, and JAWED KARIM (aka the founders of YouTube) – I’m breaking the rule already on individuals, but then again none of these guys are musicians.  But seeing as how Bryan named Simon Fuller as his number five pick, I think I’ve earned some latitude here.

    Just as Simon Fuller created a new medium by which to filter, develop, and launch talent, YouTube provided direction one-to-one contact between musicians and their fans.  Further, YouTube breathed new life into the concept of the music video as both a work of art and a  marketing tool.  Once the potential of YouTube was realized, bands like Ok Go fought tooth and nail to use the website to reach new audiences unfamiliar with their work. 

    Yet another sign that the recording industry didn’t understand disruptive technology: the Record Execs finally gave-in to Ok Go’s pleas to release their first video … by posting it on stupidvideos.com (I kid you not).  Want to take a guess who the label was?  That’s right … EMI.  Can someone please save this company from itself?

    With MTV opting to essentially drop the “M” from their call letters, YouTube has become the means by which bands become household names.  The four following links are illustrations of the fact that radio play alone arguably wouldn’t have made these bands household names.  I’m not saying anything against these bands; instead, I’m saying that these bands were smart enough, like their predecessors using MTV (e.g., Duran Duran, Dire Straits, and Peter Gabriel), to use a medium (in this case, YouTube) to finally breakthrough.  Here are some great examples:

    §         Ok Go – There it Goes Again

    §         Ok Go – This Too Shall Pass

    §         Ok Go – End Love

    §         Mute Math – Typical

     

    Don’t get me wrong: it’s the bands that scored.  But they couldn’t have scored without the assist from YouTube.  And sometimes an assist can be as impressive as a score.

     

    12.     (at Center) DR. ANDY HILDEBRAND – While Dr. Hildebrand is a trained flutist (hence the stretched qualification as musician), he is known more famously as the inventor of the Auto Tune.  You may wonder, after all of my rants against Auto Tune, why would I list this person among my list of most important musicians?  Simple: every team needs a hatchet man.  And as an opposite move from Mr. Rakowski, I’d rather be able to bench Hildebrand than subject my Starting Five to his physical, goon-like play.  Aside from Detroit, did every other fan base hate Bill Laimbeer?  Yes.  Would fans have been okay with Laimbeer if he played for their favorite team?  Of course.


    Ladies and Gentlemen, there you have it: the musicians who we consider All-Stars, but would rather expect to have only a limited influence on the All-Star Game. BRak, I think we’ve been making the people wait long enough ... let’s see who you have for your number one pick.



    Stay tuned for the next installment of Starting Five debate, slated for the week of July 12.

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