Holding out for a zero 

Ah, those idyllic days of April 2003, when music was worse than it’s ever been — but at least we could console ourselves that the end of the three-week war meant a cease-fire for mediocre pro- and anti-Iraqi war songs? Foolish infidels! Jubilant Iraqis may have toppled Saddam Hussein statues and looted presidential palaces, but back in the States a repressive regime of pop music was still in power and amassing weapons of mass consumption daily. It was all careening toward the sorriest May Day for music since 1949, when Satchmo mistakenly switched his blowing handkerchief with his face-wiper and grossed out the Cotton Club.

There’s plenty of blame to go around, yet there’s no single performer who can unite us in target mode like Saddam did. Just as Lester Bangs once noted, "We will never again agree on anything as we agreed about Elvis," there’s also no anti-Elvis that can inspire us to take our Thom McAns off en masse and dole out a rightful shoeing. Here, though, are the likely candidates, in order of appearance.

May 17. Ozzy Osbourne leaves CBS/Sony after 20-plus years to divert attention away from daughter Kelly, who got dropped from Sony subsidiary Epic for selling fewer than 150,000 copies of her debut album, Shut Up. Mama Sharon is determined to find a label that will sign both father and daughter, a package deal that the industry will greet with John-and-Yoko apprehension. The 19-year-old Kelly told MTV the lyrics on her second album, already in the can, are "so much more mature … from 16 to 19 is a huge difference." More mature than "Blah Blah Blah"? D’ya think?!

May 17. The Greediest Band in the Land concludes one leg of its 2003 Farewell Tour at the Rose Bowl. What’s that you say? Didn’t Kiss stage Farewell Tours in 2000, 2001 and 2002, with Gene Simmons promising to hang up his dragon-fanged boots each time? This go-round, Kiss offers its fleecing flock special "Platinum Packages" to gouge an extra grand from backstage visitors. Responding to a fan’s enraged Kiss Online e-mail on the subject, Paul Stanley writes that the moolah is "to guarantee the participants a quality photo and a (sic) efficient use of time rather than somebody going home, developing the film only to find a blurry or unusable photo. That is why we are providing a high quality individual photo." Who knew the Star Child was such a Felix Unger … and a closet Dr. Phil! Dig this retort: "Perhaps instead of dwelling on your anger at not being able to participate in this unique event, try focusing on the opportunity that countless fans (including you) have had to meet us … for free during countless events and circumstances." Platinum Packages: $1,000. Stupid fans — priceless!

May 19. Scott Weiland is arrested a fifth time for drug possession. This time the former Stone Temple Pilot was caught with coke and heroin while driving without headlights — last time he was caught while punching his wife’s lights out. He’s reportedly working with former Guns N’ Roses members in a new band ironically named Reloaded; if this recurring pattern of drugs-rehab-sobriety-arrest ever results in hard time, Weiland will still have an earlier release date than Chinese Democracy.

May 20. Not to be outdone, Cher, onetime Gene Simmons squeeze, extends her two-year farewell tour by seven dates! When did farewell turn into forever?

May 20. Weird Al Yankovic releases his stillborn Poodle Hat album without the promotional punch of an Eminem parody single or video. That’s because Eminem, whose name is almost an anagram of "I, me, mine" refused to have his likeness spoofed by Weird Al Yankovic, whose name is an anagram of "Awry Video Link, CA," which should’ve tipped everyone off, eh? The official Marshall memo griped that "a Weird Al video would somehow detract from his legacy or make him seem like a less hip hip-hop artist." Maybe Eminem’s just cheesed off because the "Lose Yourself" lampoon is on Yankovic’s imprint label — Way Moby!

May 21. If only the evil mission of "American Idol" was bringing karaoke to the masses, we could be dismiss it as easily as the days Joe Millionaire spent on a forklift. But its real mission is to bring down our government by undermining good old American ideals like competition, democracy and songs with hooks. What good is a contest if everyone in it has already inked record deals with Clive Davis? What good are elimination rounds, when everyone comes back on an American Idol album singing the songs that got ’em voted off in the first place? In any competition, someone has to lose — just ask Al Gore. By obliterating this concept, America is as discriminating as any former Soviet republic. Remember how we laughed at "official" Soviet rock band Autograph during the Live Aid telecast? Those Communist stiffs sound like Sly and the Family Stone after you’ve suffered through "American Idol Season 2: All-Time Classic American Love Songs." What’s more un-American than assassinating "What the World Needs Now Is Love" and convincing Burt Bacharach to help pull the trigger? Expect newly crowned Idol Ruben Studdard’s fall RCA debut to have the same sappy load of Diane Warren songs somebody else would’ve been assigned to sing. Serene Dominic writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com

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