Under The Skin: Springsteen, Jonas and the click-bait culture

Springsteen 2014

I must have been feeling grumpy over the weekend, because it seemed that every music-related web-link that I clicked on managed to boil my piss. Everything from mistake-laden copy to cynical click-bait bullshit had my pulse racing and my hands reaching for a computer like a professional keyboard warrior.

After counting to 10 I usually stepped away from what I perceived to be crass, flimsy and pointlessly spiteful content, but the fact that I’m still thinking about it and writing it all down here proves that it has stuck in my craw.

What was the target of my ire? The full list would be long and tedious, but it ranged from articles full of simple spelling and grammatical errors, through to opinion pieces that seemed to exist for no other reason than to cynically drive traffic to a website without actually adding anything to any given debate, or that sought to spitefully take the piss out of unfortunate individuals who really had no place in the publication in the first place.

There were many examples that I stumbled upon over the weekend, but two from Team Rock illustrate my point.

The first was BP Perry’s piece headlined “Why is Bruce Springsteen punishing his fans for something their politicians did?”, shared across Team Rock’s social media pages with the line “Why Bruce Springsteen cancelling his gig in protest over an anti-LGBT law is not right-on, it’s ridiculous.”

The article stems from Springsteen and his band cancelling a North Carolina show in protest over the US state passing the “HB2” law. As The Boss himself explains on his own website: “HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.”

You could argue – as some people did when I mentioned this to them – that it is legitimate to ask why Springsteen cancelled the show altogether, potentially putting numerous fans out of pocket, rather than going ahead with the gig and speaking out on stage. And you know what? I wouldn’t have felt angry about the article if it had sought to have that dialogue in a constructive manner. As it is, I got no sense that it set out to do that at all.

Quite apart from the fact that all Springteen’s fans who bought tickets to the cancelled gig are getting a refund, just look at the tone and language of the piece: “This knee-jerk reaction to something he doesn’t like makes absolutely no sense. Had Springsteen rocked up to his concert, made a little speech about his opposition to the new law and invited those who didn’t agree with him to leave with a full refund, then fair enough. But no. Bruce decided that the best way to show his displeasure was to say to hell with the whole damn lot of them.”

“That’s to hell with his own audience. His fans. The people who like him so much, they’re willing to pay him quite a substantial amount of money to see the Boss and his band play live. And he’s just given them all the finger because of something their state government has done. He’s pretty much saying his own fans have colluded with their legislators to come up with a law he doesn’t like, and now they must be punished for it.”

What an ill thought through, selfish and cynical crock.

As Springsteen made clear in his statement about the cancellation, “No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden.” Quite.

“…made a little speech about his opposition to the new law…” How patronising.

“Knee-jerk reaction”? Not bloomin’ likely.

Those who pay any proper attention to Springsteen and his work know that he has always been politically engaged. They know that he dresses his politics to the left, and they know that he seeks to support the people of the world who are most in need.

Saying that his fans have colluded with their legislators? Saying to hell with his audience and giving them the finger? Absolute rubbish. This isn’t Springsteen abandoning his audience, this is Springsteen supporting people who are misunderstood, stigmatised and oppressed in ways that other people aren’t. This is Springsteen helping people to have their voice heard, using his celebrity in the way he knows how. This is Springsteen doing what he can to make a difference.

The suggestion that this is anything else comes from a hardened, cynical place; a place that has no awareness of Springsteen and what he stands for; a place that has little care or consideration for minority communities. It’s made that much worse because – let’s not forget – this piece has been published by Team Rock, the outlet which took such a strong stand against Phil Anselmo’s racist behaviour earlier this year, accusing other publications of “editorial weakness” in the process.

I’m calling BS on this article and all pieces like it. I don’t want to read such articles from any publication, Team Rock or otherwise.

The second piece, again published via Team Rock, was an article that sought to ridicule pop star Nick Jonas for playing a poor guitar solo at the Country Music Awards.

My thoughts here are essentially “Who cares?!” Nick Jonas and his music are irrelevant to the world of rock and metal. He is not trying to be part of the rock and metal community. He didn’t get up on stage and tell everyone that he was the best guitar player since Randy Rhoads. He played the solo at THE COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS for goodness sake.

But even if Jonas had been trying to make an impact on the heavy metal scene, why bother writing this waste of everyone’s time? It is essentially nothing more than flimsy piece of spiteful trolling; the worst kind of internet click-bait. All it exists to do is make someone feel bad and others feel better by laughing at them.

No thanks, Team Rock, or any other music publication for that matter. I know you’re better than this. Start showing it.

So, over to you. I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on this kind of journalism, on the Team Rock pieces specifically and any other such articles that you have comes across whilst browsing. Do you like the kind of articles referenced here? Or would you prefer that music outlets didn’t publish such pieces? Do articles such as these exist because the public genuinely want to read them, or are they published to draw an unsuspecting public in? Get in touch and let me know.

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New music releases, 1st December 2014

Here are the new and notable album releases this week, 1st December 2014:

Rock Or Bust cover
Rock Or Bust, AC/DC

Demolicious, Green Day
John Grant & The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, John Grant
Live In Dublin, Leonard Cohen
Doolittle 25 (Boxset), Pixies
Winterland Night (Live), Bruce Springsteen
Music Industry 3 Fitness Industry 1, Mogwai
Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994 – 2014, Wilco
…All That Might Have Been… (A Complete Box Set), Peter Hammill
Classics, She & Him
Gone Girl (Original Soundtrack), Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Live Chicago 1992, Pearl Jam
The Elements Tour Box 2014, King Crimson
Many Faces Of Yes, Various Artists
Crossfire, White Widdow
Sacred Warpath, Sodom
Send Them All To Hell, The German Panzer
Meo Vaettum, Skalmold
V, The Flight of Sleipnir
Theatre Of Redemption, Harmony
Strangers In Paradise, Neonfly
Where Dreams Are Forgotten, Axenstar
Freaks, Rigor Mortis
The Slaughter Never Stops, Avenger
Transilvanian Hunger (2CD 20th Anniversary Edition), Darkthrone

All of the above and many more are available via the Skin Back Alley Music Store!

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Bruce Springsteen launches concert download site

Bruce Springsteen
Photo (C) John Minchillo/Invision/AP File

Bruce Springsteen has launched his official concert download site, coinciding with the release of his first eight studio albums in remastered editions.

Shortly before the start of his most recent High Hopes Tour, Springsteen announced that soundboard mixes of each show would be made available to download in high quality MP3 or FLAC file formats after each gig. Those downloads were then taken down at the end of June.

But now the new site – live.brucespringteen.net – is up and running, and also offering shows in high-resolution 24 bit and CD formats.

The idea of concert downloads was first mooted to Springsteen’s management five years ago by Brad Serling, founder and CEO of nugs.net. The idea was rebuffed at the time, but has now taken flight. Serling says the difference was that Springsteen actively took an interest in the project this time around:

“It was Bruce looking at YouTube and seeing fan-generated content from his recent shows, as well as archival stuff,” he told the Backstreets website. “And he was like, ‘We can do better than this. We own the masters!’ What’s great is, he wasn’t saying, ‘F— those guys. Take that stuff down. Screw YouTube.’ It was, ‘If this is happening, we should be doing it officially.’”

Whilst not giving away any locations or dates, Serling promised that many more of Springsteen’s live sows will be made available for download in the near future, with a shortlist of 30 already picked out.

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New music releases, 17th November 2014

Here are the new and notable album releases this week, 17th November 2014:

Black Widow Cover
Black Widow, In This Moment

It’s In The Streets, This Legend
Dreamchaser, Victorious
Stacked Up XX (Remastered Edition), Senser
Blueneck, King Nine
H7, Blodhemn
Catharsis, Soldierfield
Global Purification, Thanatos
Nothing Has Changed, David Bowie
Avonmore, Bryan Ferry
No Fixed Address, Nickelback
Live In Berlin, Depeche Mode
Let Us Burn (CD & DVD), Within Temptation
Family, Thompson
The Suffocating Darkness, Soulburn
Hit N Run, Wild Rose
The Albums Collection Vol.1 (1973-1984), Bruce Springsteen
Seeds, TV On The Radio
Different Every Time, Robert Wyatt
Good Girls, 5 Seconds Of Summer
Pom Pom, Ariel Pink
Surgical Remission-Surplus Steel, Carcass
First Demo, Fugazi
Grand Morbid Funeral, Bloodbath
Bones + Longing, Gemma Hayes
Word To The Blind, Savages and Bo Ningen

All of the above – and many more besides! – are available via the Skin Back Alley Music Store.

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Springsteen criticised for cover of “Fortunate Son”

Springsteen 2014

Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Zac Brown have been criticised by conservative media outlets in the US after performing a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s song “Fortunate Son” at the recent Concert For Valor.

Writing in The Weekly Standard, Ethan Epstein questioned why the trio chose to perform “an anti-war anthem” at an event “largely organised to honour those who volunteered to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq”.

The Washington Post also picked up on the negative buzz, citing responses to the song from social media platforms:

MK @megtkel “Will never understand why Fortunate Son is played during ‘patriotic’ scenarios. Not really getting this. #TheConcertForValor”

Colette Moran @ColetteMoran “Ummm… Why are they playing an anti-patriotic song “Fortunate Son” at the Concert for Valor? And why are they cheering?”

The Post did at least report more supportive comments, too:

Eric Boehlert @EricBoehlert
“FIXED: 40+ yrs after “Fortunate Son” was written, culturally clueless (chickenhawk) conservatives are still clueless abt message. #ZacBrown”

The Concert For Valor was a free event that took place at The National Mall in Washington D.C. on Veteran’s Day. Rihanna, The Black Keys and Metallica also performed at the HBO sponsored show. The concert was organised to “raise awareness of veterans’ support groups, raise funds for veterans’ charities and salute American troops.”

Springsteen also performed his own war veteran themed song, “Born In The USA.”

You can watch fan-shot footage of Springsteen, Grohl and Brown performing “Fortunate Son” below:

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