As music, the 50 Cent/Queen mash-up album "Q-Unit, Greatest Hits" isn't great -- awkward homemade beats, not nearly the sort of interesting interplay between sources that made DJ Danger Mouse's Beatles-meets-Jay-Z mixer, "The Grey Album," such good fare. But as a concept, we have to salute it, particularly because the album's cover gives us 50 Cent sporting Freddy Mercury's mustache. (Stereogum)
Scott Stapp, lead singer for the mainstream rock juggernaut Creed before it chugged to a halt in the summer of 2004, has been in the headlines again this week, but not for his new solo album, "The Great Divide." While the record hasn't attracted much attention, debuting at No. 19 on the charts, Stapp's unhinged behavior certainly has. He was called out by Lloyd Grove's gossip column in the New York Daily News, the Lowdown, this week for apparently showing up drunk to tape an appearance on Spike TV's "Casino Cinema" and calling host Beth Ostrosky -- who's Howard Stern's girlfriend -- a bimbo. "From the moment he walked into the studio, he was rude, belligerent and drunk," says the Lowdown source. "With Beth, he was nothing but extremely mean, sexist and an all-around jerk."
It also came to light this week that Stapp was involved in a little dust-up with some of the members of 311 while in Baltimore over Thanksgiving. The band's turntablist, Doug "SA" Martinez, tells MTV News that Stapp showed up drunk at the lounge of the Harbor Court Hotel, where the band was staying, and said some "disrespectful things" to Martinez's wife. "And all of a sudden it was on. I threw a punch and hit Scott. He went down. Then Chad came over and hit Scott too," Martinez said. "At that point we held Scott down until hotel security came to break it up. Then the police arrived, escorted Scott to his room and then told him to get out of the hotel."
Also unpleasantly in the headlines: The Grateful Dead. The band managed to anger its legion of bootlegging fans by asking Archive.org to remove the many concert recordings fans have placed on the site over the years. Fans quickly circulated an online petition that read, "It appears doing the right things for the fans has given way to greed," and threatened to boycott all Grateful Dead merchandise. Soon after, the band relented. Meanwhile, eBay was busy auctioning off Jerry Garcia's toilet and old freezer. And the Village Voice suggests some great fake Garcia auction items, like Jerry's Rasta Hat Dreadlock Wig: "While he didn't put it on often, Garcia did believe that when he wore the hat backwards, he was invisible."
There's a touching ode to Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn over at Danceblogga. Hilburn's leaving the criticism game, opting to accept a buyout at the Times after 35 years, during which time he established himself as a major pop critic and also brought a lot of good writers to the Times. Choice quote: "Hilburn was a model for many pop writers. He's detached, respected, serious, but always loving those artists who blew speakers, minds and boundaries. He taught us to respect the ethics of journalism and protect our ears (with plugs)." (Coolfer)
The L.A. Weekly has a long investigation into the blog band phenomenon, whereby massive blog attention is starting to have a powerful effect on a band's career, but it makes an interesting central point: The past year has seen a shift in the balance of power from radio toward the Internet. "The year 2005 marked a clear shift from the era of airwaves to the era of iPods. The digital landscape has been laid; the critical apparatus necessary to govern its borders is settling into place," the paper writes. Describing the lay of the land, it goes on to name some of our favorite music blogs: "It's a hierarchy of Web zines, MP3 blogs, podcasts and message boards with peculiar names like Music for Robots, Coolfer, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan and Tracks Up the Tree." (L.A. Weekly)
As a nerdy movie soundtrack fan -- one of my early album buys was Ennio Morricone's music for "The Mission" -- I'm pleased to see that MSN is offering all of Gustavo Santaolalla's tender, country-twinged soundtrack for "Brokeback Mountain" streaming for free online. (Arjanwrites)
-- Scott Lamb