TV pet peeve #5: The Meaningful Montage

While all of TubaTV’s pet peeves make our collective blood boil, #5 is doubly peevey: firstly, The Meaningful Montage constitutes some seriously vile pop culture demagogy.  It’s like the aural equivalent of the soap opera close-up: in the event that some half-dead member of the audience isn’t certain how to feel about a given story line, the Meaningful Montage packages the appropriate sentiment into an easy-to-digest caplet of radio friendly, unit shifting sound and vision.  Worse still than its status as a marketing ploy, the Meaningful Montage is essentially a less ambitious/more plebeian cousin to The Magnolia Moment, finally amounting to a spiritless gesture entirely bereft of rhetorical force.

Rupert Murdoch’s army of simpletons over at Fox/FX have honed the device to its most utilitarian: Don Draper must have convinced them that the final minutes of any given serial drama can be made both poignant and relevant for the “coveted 18-49 demographic” by the simple inclusion of a slow-motion montage set to some “edgy” New(ish) (White) Music.  Got a character moving to another state and/or resigning himself to a life of working class baby daddery?  Oh, Jeff Buckley’s oft-abused cover of “Hallelujah” should do the trick:

Rescuing someone from a burning building?  (Or drinking yourself into a stupor?  Or slowly ruining every relationship you’ve ever had?)  “Indie” rock is most definitely in order:

The Meaningful Montage is so trite, so ridiculously facile that this fan vid of The shield is practically indistinguishable from an actual episode:

In honor of all you anonymous Tuba lovers out there, I’ve gone ahead and edited the following choice editorializing out of the Wikipedia entry for The shield: “To enhance its realism, the show makes very little use of background music until the end of each episode.”  Back loading music at the end of an episode “enhances” its “realism,” huh?

[Edit: Some devoted Shield fan has undone my edits.  I had changed “realism” to read “market appeal.”  Any Wikipedia editors out there, please join the discussion page and weigh in on the proposed change.]

— J.C. Freñán


Music on Television: I Got Two Tympanies and a Microphone

Week after dreadful week of bands on late night made me stop and reconsider the point of writing all those TubaTV “Music on Television” posts. But sure enough, as soon as I stopped, I missed not one but two brilliant performances by this year’s comeback kid – the (occasionally) Mighty Mos Def – who dropped his latest, The Ecstatic, earlier this week. On Fallon, Mos teamed up with The Roots on his Banda Black Rio-inspired closer, “Casa Bey.”

And on Letterman, Mos lugged out his two tympanies for a tight performance of “Quiet Dog Bite Hard” (with some blessings from Fela).


Oh, and in case the links above expire, try these: “Casa Bey” (on Fallon); “Quiet Dog” (on Letterman)

— Thumbu Sammy

The Return of Doo Doo Brown

For good reason no one ever called me big poppa, but truth be told, back in ’91, I, too, was reading Word Up, cutting out and hanging pictures on my wall, and obsessively taping shit off the radio (I came up with my own emcee name too; don’t ask). That year in particular there were two stand-out tracks that deejays from the D spun in the off hours of radio, and I spent long nights trying to preserve them onto TDKs. The first, which I actually did manage to dub, was Eerk & Jerk’s “Eerk & Jerk” (with its mind-blowing use of a Robocop sample). The second, 2 Hyped Brothers and a Dog’s “Doo Doo Brown” (above), I was never so lucky with.

Now, a lot of folks remember the second “Doo Doo Brown,” the raunchy booty-dropper by Luke of 2 Live Crew-infamy. And for good reason too. Apparently, that track started the third wave of Miami Bass (“Who Let the Dogs Out,” “Tootsee Roll,” were all just reincarnations of Doo Doo). Not that I cared. All I knew was that Uncle Luke’s beat used to throw me into convulsions.

1-900-976-Dudu The first “Doo Doo Brown,” on the other hand, was a long-winded, unstructured Bmore club track, plagued by a radio emcee who thought he could rock the mic. And yet, I was obsessed with it. Partly, ’cause the track was so elusive (time and again, it’d play in the car, when I couldn’t tape it, and no one at my middle school seemed to know it). And partly ’cause a song with that title seemed like it came out of my eleven-year-old mind.

So imagine my surprise when I caught the ad for Tyler Perry’s latest sitcom Meet the Browns dropping “Doo Doo,” and discovered it’s now the basis of a nation-wide dance competition. If I had the moves I had back then, that contest would already be over.

— Thumbu Sammy

TV pet peeve #4: The ‘Magnolia’ moment

Anyone who saw Magnolia will remember Paul Thomas Anderson’s crowning preciosity, the pan-diegetic sing-along (featuring none other than Crazy Wanda from Big love and everyone’s favorite Dr. Steve Brule!):

Very clever and very Oscar-tempting way back in 2000.  The sing-along schtick was still viable in 2004, when transposed to the small screen and folded back into a specific story arc via a collective tryptamine experience:


Less convincing in 2006.


And fully expired by 2007.


On a related note, the comedic sing-along does manage to avoid peeving, if it’s done well.  Sing-alongs sustained one season of Flight of the Conchords


..but then turned around and killed the second.  They have also propelled some very strange British comedians to (well-deserved) stardom:



J.C. Freñán

This Week’s Music on Television

I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls.

Finally, the moment hipsters and hipsteriographers alike have been waiting for all year: the unlikely return of the emancipated sound-slave himself, Chris Cornell! In lesser news, Animal Collective plays Letterman. It’s a good week for the Pitchfork cabal all around, with Ohio players, The National, on Fallon Wednesday, and scot-rockers Franz Ferdinand on Letterman Tuesday. But my bet is that soulstress Sharon Jones and her Dap-Kings steal the show, this week; you know ?uestlove is gonna get involved.

Monday: Keri Hilson brings her sexy haircut, along with Kanye West, to Letterman; Adele does Fallon.
Tuesday: Franz Ferdinand do Letterman; Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings do their best to expunge Amy Winehouse from our collective unconscious on Jimmy Fallon.
Wednesday: Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 do Letterman; some Irish dude named Van Morrison does Leno; and The National play out Fallon.
Thursday: The Animal Collective do their thing on Letterman; Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 try again on Fallon.
Friday: finally, ex-Soundgarden, ex-Audioslave frontman, Chris Cornell, plays Letterman.

This Week’s Music on Television

Snow sat so Em could walk.  Em walked so Asher could run...

So Asher Roth’s debut LP, Asleep in the Bread Isle, dropped last week to a whole lot of unwarranted buzz and a whole lot of frustration (read Fuzzylogic dissect the meanings of Asher Roth here). In any case, Jimmy Kimmel will unveil suburban white America’s answer to hip hop on Tuesday night, for those who are brave enough to witness. Otherwise, another bland week on TWMOT. Surprise, surprise.

Monday: Swingers house band, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, brings a whole lot of nostalgia to Leno, while Franz Ferdinand do Kimmel.
Tuesday: Asher Roth‘s quest for hip hop domination commences on Kimmel.
Wednesday: Georgian indie rockers, Manchester Orchestra, play Letterman.
Thursday: Starsailor, the Coldplay that never was, play Leno; and Santigold (and special guests Spank Rock) perform “Shove it” on a Fallon rerun.
Friday: Natasha Khan brings the Bats for Lashes show onto Letterman, and the Cold War Kids close out the week on Fallon.

This Week’s Music on Television

Ladies and Gentleman, the Tinted Windows.
If Zwan wasn’t enough to crush the hearts of Smashing Pumpkins faithfuls, James Iha’s new supergroup, Tinted Windows, probably will. Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos, Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, and Mmm-bopper Taylor Hanson join Iha to bring their sugar pop to late night, twice this week.

Monday: Miami hustler, Rick Ross does his thing on Fallon; The Killers do Leno (BTW, does anyone else think “Human” sounds a lot like Alphaville?)
Tuesday: Harvard nerd-biscuits, Chester French bring it on Fallon; Norwegian songstress Ida Maria does Leno; and, alas, the surreal-life supergroup, Tinted Windows, debut on Letterman.
Wednesday: Mancunians The Whip bring their Factory Records-revival to Jimmy Kimmel; Beyonce talks, but may or may not perform, on Letterman
Thursday: The mighty Depeche Mode do Kimmel; the no-longer-grateful Dead play Letterman.
Friday: Jamie Foxx blames it on the a-a-alcohol on Kimmel; Tinted Windows (again!) do Fallon; and Radiohead-hater Lily Allen does Letterman.