I can remember the poster perfectly, because for a while in the early 1990s you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing it up on someone’s wall. It was an evocative black-and-white shot of a young Eddie Vedder, clad in shorts, mic in hand, climbing onto a monitor, against a backdrop of an apparently endless crowd. Across the bottom was the wording “Pearl Jam, Vs. — Fastest Selling Album Ever.” These days, you can’t even find it on the Internet (although you can see the photo below). You certainly don’t see it on walls anymore — I guess most copies got torn down as adolescence gave way to adulthood, and maybe some are still gathering dust in garages and attics the world over. The past doesn’t change, but the way we look at it does. Twenty years makes a hell of a difference, really — because Vs. came out 20 years ago tomorrow.
The nominations for MTV’s Video Music Awards were released this week, and amongst the usual shower of nondescript commercial bilge, there was the reminder that some artists are actually using their videos as a medium for something more than rump-shaking and product placement: the curious, three-year-old “Best Video with a Social Message” category, for which nominees include noted political commentators Beyoncé, Macklemore, and Kelly Clarkson. Although we can’t guarantee that any of this year’s crop will make any great impact on you, here are some excellent music videos — past and present — that just might.
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Picture the scene: it’s a chilly night during the Australian winter of 1997. Your correspondent, aged 19, is huddled in a sleeping bag on a Melbourne doorstep with a couple of friends, a pack of playing cards and a crate of beer for company. The doorstep belongs to Ticketek, the Australian precursor to Ticketmaster, and we are queuing dutifully to buy tickets for Radiohead, whose OK Computer tour was announced that morning and is due to visit town for two dates in early 1998. We hang out all night playing poker for 50-cent coins and drinking beer that never gets any warmer because the night is so damn cold. When the Ticketek dude turns up at 8:45am, he seems slightly taken aback that four bedraggled teenagers have spent the night camping out, but he dutifully sells us tickets for both shows. We head home cold and hungover and happy. … Read More
Despite how easy it is to go online and quickly download an entire album in just a few seconds (which we are paying for, of course), there’s nothing particularly special in purchasing music from the ether. Gone are the days of driving to the mall to browse through the racks of CDs at Camelot Music and Sam Goody; no longer can we fill out multiple Columbia House order forms for seemingly free albums. CDs were the last physical music objects, and our first purchases say a lot about us as much and the time in which we grew up. (For the record, I like to tell everyone my first CD was the Reality Bites soundtrack, but it was, regrettably, the revival Broadway cast recording of Grease! featuring Brooke Shields as Rizzo.) I asked a few friends from across the Internet to share their first CD purchases. Click through after the jump, and share your stories in the comments! … Read More