19 Oct 2005

Making it big in music 2005 - a tale of two cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

1: Like a seal running a marathon, the shuddering travesty that is New Zealand idol collapses across the finish line. It has been an arduous journey, nearly as long as the Burma Campaign. Sony hints that it may not fund a third series: their complaint is that the audience is voting for people who look pretty on TV, not those who can, you know, actually sing. The public, who have to step over mountains of Britney Spears CDs just to get in the door of their local record store are strangely unsympathetic.

The ratings lift slightly in the last few days as Sir Howard "The Bic things in life cost so little" Morrison* claims the front runner, Rosita Vai, is too overweight to have a career in music. But then, just like the bit in The Karate Kid where Charles in Charge** stands on his broken leg and kicks that other guy, she wins! A CD is released and is available in the sales bin of the Warehouse a week later. Everyone tries to remember the name of the bloke who won last year.

2: On October 14, Jonathan Coulton posts an MP3 on his blog. It's a reinterpretation of the, classic, I guess, Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot. It's a beautiful song, taking something most people had assumed was a mysoginistic novelty rap and revealing its true form: an earnest call for women to be proud of themselves, whatever their size. The Creative Commons licensed song spreads over the web like wildfire, and the next day it turns up on Boing Boing. Jonathan's servers tell of a beating withstood:

15,000 unique visitors over the weekend, 12,000 just yesterday
162 Gigs of data yesterday
47,000 hits on the mp3 itself

And the reak kicker -

Actual airplay on KTCK in Dallas (thanks Gordon!)

On October 18, the track turns up on Coverville, appearing on unsuspecting iPods everywhere. People hearing this track discover that Jonathan has far more tracks, even better than this one, especially the sublime Shop Vac. Jonathan is showered in money, beautiful women, racing cars and offers to be the new face of L'Oreal. Meanwhile, Sony NZ look at the cost of NZ Idol and can only wonder, in the immortal words of Krusty the Clown, "How can I sell it, when that guy's giving it away for free?"

* I was once on the same stage as Sir Howard. We sung a duet. Well, there were also about 300 other school kids, but I like to think Howard and me, we had a special bond. And Liz had a scene in Shortland Street with Howard's nephew Temuera once. Us and the Morrisons, we're like that.

* I know, it was Ralph Macchio, but I woke up the other day with the Charles in Charge theme song in my head. And they do look kind of the same. Try and stick with me here.

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