Who is The Greatest Hard Rock/Metal Band of All Time, Second Round Part 2

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Rather than delve into the delusion that currently is supposed to oversee this country (and trust me, there’s plenty to call the Tangerine Ignoramus out on simply from this last weekend alone, such as his foray into international diplomacy at the end of a Tomahawk missile), I’ve decided to start something that will be much more fun. Since college basketball just recently completed the NCAA Basketball Championship, I thought it would be fun to do the same but in a different arena – the genre of hard rock/metal music.

What are the criteria for consideration? First, the band/singer would have to have some sort of longevity to their career – you don’t see many bands or singers that are considered “legendary” if they were only around for a couple of albums (Amy Winehouse is a rare exception, but that’s a discussion for another time). Second, the band/singer would have to have an impact on the genre – did they do something particularly noteworthy or notorious that put them into the annals of the genre’s history, a song or “behavior” that was historic. Third, just how popular were they when they were in existence – a band or singer that was wildly popular with the fans might get some leeway over a critical darling OR vice versa (depending on tastes). Fourth, what accolades did they receive – awards, gold records, and recognition by the industry (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, hello?) are all under consideration here. Finally, was the band/singer influential on future generations of music – have they helped shape the genre since they have left the sphere?

The first round of the four “regions” – the 1960s/70s, the 1980s, the 1990s and the 2000s/2010s – is complete and there were some big surprises. It’s now time to move into the second round of two of the regions who will match up in the Final Four of Hard Rock/Metal – the 1980s and the 1990s – and work them down to one half of the Sweet Sixteen. As always, cast your vote and/or opinion on who should win each battle by commenting here or on one of the many social media outlets where you might read this.

Without further ado, here’s the 1980s second round:

BON JOVI

Bon Jovi (1) vs. Mötley Crüe (8)

Part of me would like to see this be a real battle, but that’s not the case. Longevity is on the side of Bon Jovi in this case, as is virtually every other category that might be tallied. Sales, award recognition, fan support – all those things flow in the direction of the boys from New Jersey over the gang off the Sunset Strip. Although they might be “lightweights,” Bon Jovi for many WAS the 1980s and, as such, they will be moving on.

Guns ‘N Roses (4) vs. Iron Maiden (5)

This is going to be too close to call. The Gunners breathed new life into hard rock/metal in the late 1980s with their “take no prisoners” approach and bawdy behavior, but Iron Maiden’s throng of loyal supporters and longevity in the business can’t be overlooked. Even though GNR came back last year for a few concert appearances (and Axl Rose did some great work with AC/DC after the questionable circumstances regarding Brian Johnson’s departure), Iron Maiden almost always has seemed to “been there” since the early 1980s. The voters will have to make the call here.

Metallica (2) vs. Anthrax (10)

Anthrax, with their highly influential style of speed metal mixed with social commentary, emerged with an upset victory against Queensrÿche, but that may be where the train ends with running up against Metallica. If there were a group that could play just as fast as Anthrax, just as loud and have similar things to say, it would be Metallica. What puts it over the top? The 2009 induction of Metallica into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which says it best on their website when they comment, “Heavy metal went mainstream thanks to Metallica.”

Slayer

Def Leppard (3) vs. Slayer (6)

Opposites go to war in this matchup, with the poppier hard rock from Def Leppard running headlong into the death metal stylings of Slayer. Don’t be so quick to hand this battle to Def Leppard; Slayer, while a polarizing entity because of the style that they play, has been tremendously influential over ALL forms of music. They have influenced everyone from Pantera to Hatebreed and even reached to Italy to inspire Lacuna Coil. When you’ve got that type of power, it has an impact…but will the voters accept it?

And now, let’s look at the 1990s:

Nirvana (1) vs. Nine Inch Nails (9)

Although I’ve long had a fondness for Nirvana and the late Kurt Cobain, there is plenty of room for argument that Nine Inch Nails and front man Trent Reznor were more influential on hard rock/metal. Reznor’s influence runs the gamut from pop to industrial, dance to rock, and he’s also been a highly successful scorer of films (along with his partner Atticus Ross, they won the Academy Award for Best Original Score for The Social Network). While that may not be hardcore, it still shows tremendous talent, making this matchup not the slam dunk that many might have thought.

"Gone Girl" Special Screening

Pearl Jam (4) vs. Foo Fighters (5)

Another tough battle in the 4/5 seedings. You would think that Pearl Jam, coming off their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and nearly 30-year career (not to mention leading the “Grunge Revolution”), would be able to handle the Foo men easily. But Dave Grohl and Co. aren’t that easy to knock off. They’ve been getting raves over one of their recent efforts, Sonic Highways, which saw the band travel to eight different cities to “get a feel for” the cities as they recorded it (the production was followed by HBO for a miniseries of the same name). Grohl also carries some gravitas from his days with Nirvana. Is it possible that Grohl’s two bands could face off against each other in the Sweet Sixteen?

Rage Against the Machine (2) vs. Korn (7)

Although Korn ably defeated Tool to reach the second round, I don’t see a way that they get past RATM. In all areas, Rage Against the Machine are the dominant forces – popularity, commercial and critical success, influence and many others. About the only thing that Korn may have is longevity, but that would change if Rage guitarist Tom Morello and singer Zack de la Rocha buried the hatchet and hit the studio again (if not, there’s always Morello leading the other men from the band in their new outlet, Prophets of Rage). A bit of a mismatch here, unfortunately.

GreenDay

Green Day (3) vs. White Zombie/Rob Zombie (11)

A bit of a surprise as White Zombie and front man Rob Zombie were able to upend Alice in Chains to reach the second round of the tournament. They’ve got a great chance to take out the three-seed in Green Day as their style of “nightmare metal” has been mimicked by many bands in the early 2000s, even though Rob Zombie still performs. Green Day, however, has their own legion of devotees and can even say that they’ve gone to Broadway (the musical American Idiot brought punk music to the Great White Way). It is another battle that will be decided by the voters.

That closes the second round for these two regions. Be sure to get your votes in on who deserves to move on to the Sweet Sixteen! Starting this week, we’ll cut the Sweet Sixteen down to only one band, who will walk off with the title of the greatest hard rock/metal band in history!

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The Coming Downfall of Broadcast Television

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There have been some things that have been consistent in the average person’s life when it comes to entertainment. The theater has been around since the Greeks and Romans put plays on in their massive outdoor amphitheaters and musical concerts have almost the same longevity. The change has come in the way that those things – acting and musical performances, along with sporting events – have been delivered to the populace.

In the really “old days,” the only way to partake of these artistic or athletic endeavors was in a live setting. With the creation of radio, it became possible for people to join in on a concert or sporting event from several hundred, even thousands, of miles away. When television came along in the 1920s, the picture was added to the radio broadcast and became the preferred way for people to witness events from thousands, even millions (remember the moon landing in 1969?), of miles away. As technology improves, however, many of these avenues are becoming extinct or may become extinct over the next decade or so.

First to go was radio. The normal terrestrial radio – replete with commercials – lasted for over 100 years before the advent of satellite radio came along. At first, many said “I’m not going to pay for radio,” but, as time, technological improvements and personal choices came to the fore, people decided to pay for satellite radio. Today, SiriusXM and its array of channels challenge terrestrial radio across the board in the ability to deliver breaking news, sporting events and musical events and artists’ recent musical output. It doesn’t bode well for the future as more terrestrial radio stations become “automated” – basically eschewing live DJs for stale canned programming to reduce costs – and the satellite stations boom, basically destroying an industry 100 years or more in the making.

A similar situation is happening in the world of television. Just a little younger than the radio industry, television has been a staple of U. S. households since it was popularly mass-produced in the 1950s. Over the past 60-plus years, television has not only brought to those around the world important historical moments – the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the standoff at Tiananmen Square, the bombing of Baghdad in the first Gulf War – but has also brought hours of entertainment through movies, musical concerts, comedies and dramas.

Those traditions are quickly changing and nothing shows it more than the recent announcements from two powers in the television world, one a major network and one a cable powerhouse. It was announced on Monday that CBS Television Studios would be bringing a new entry into the Star Trek universe come January 2017. While not commenting on what tack the new series will take, it does have the power of Alex Kurtzman, who produced the 2009 theatrical version of Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, behind it.

The crossover of Kurtzman from the Big Screen to the Little Screen isn’t the important change, however. CBS has already stated that the premiere episode of the new Star Trek series would be broadcast on its regular network airwaves. Following that, the premiere and each new episode would be seen on CBS’ brand new on demand outlet, CBS All Access, and would not be broadcast on the traditional airwaves ever again.

After this announcement regarding the CBS/Star Trek partnership, it was announced on Tuesday that longtime cable television giant HBO and former The Daily Show front man Jon Stewart had joined forces for him to issue commentary during the upcoming 2016 Presidential campaigns. So what will be the name of Stewart’s new show that will premiere next year? It won’t be a show and it won’t be on HBO, fans; it will be “short form digital content,” or online efforts, with Stewart offering commentary that will appear over HBO’s on demand and streaming outlets HBO NOW, HBO GO and other arenas.

What do both of these legendary entries do? Sidestep the traditional broadcasting arenas in favor of online or “streaming” outlets, signifying that there is a coming downfall of broadcast television.

NetflixLogo

Since the beginning of the 21st century, this transition has been pretty easy to see coming. Netflix wormed its way in with its creation in 1999, initially offering only DVDs to customers as an alternative to the “big box” movie rental outlets such as Hollywood Video or Blockbuster Video. Not only did Netflix crush those outlets with its business plan, they soon grasped onto the idea that they could do television just as well as the traditional broadcast networks. Such now-acclaimed dramas and comedies as House of Cards and the resurrected Arrested Development got their start in 2013 on Netflix and the acclaimed Orange is the New Black premiered in 2014. Since these and other shows premiered, Netflix has earned over 50 Emmy nominations and won 11 times.

After Netflix showed the way, there were many who followed. Hulu and Amazon Prime Video now have their own streaming video networks in addition to their usual movie rentals and they have made their impacts not only on broadcasting but on awards shows with their own original programming. Even the traditional networks, such as what CBS has done above, have entered into the digital arena.

ChromeCast

If you’re going to have the non-traditional broadcast sources, you have to have a way to get it to the people. With Roku, ChromeCast, AppleTV and software on the Xbox and PS4 video game systems, there are ways to use an internet connection to pretty much see anything that might appear on network television that same day or within a couple of days of a program’s original broadcast (if it is on the network’s digital outlet, then the next day). The combination of these internet streaming options plus the drive to sever the ties with cable could very well doom the traditional network outlets and cable television.

Cable television, as traditionally offered by Comcast, Time Warner and several other outlets, offers different packages for homes in their areas. Households can pay anywhere between $20 (for the barest bones package that basically only gives the local broadcast networks) and $300 (for every bell and whistle available, not to mention internet access and/or phone) for cable television programming. If people were able to make the choice to buy the channels that they like and want – say a Netflix here, an ESPN there, etc. – and pay drastically less than what they pay for cable, people will do that in a heartbeat.

Cable broadcasting will more than likely end when those device providers – Roku, ChromeCast and the others – start providing “bundles” of channels at a low price for their viewers (this might also be the saving grace of broadcast television in that they could negotiate rights, much like they already do with the cable companies, with the streaming providers). These “bundles” could offer local television station programming, a sports channel or two, a movie channel and a news channel for next to nothing. You could have a sports package, a movie package or a news package to go alongside the local channels that can be picked up with a digital antenna. Then there is always the fallbacks of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon that could bring the programming.

There is one problem that could be present for those looking for the utter devastation of cable. Live televised sports still provide the most viewers in television – look at the numbers for football’s Super Bowl or for soccer’s (the rest of the world’s football) World Cup. The individual leagues have been looking to this, however, and have come up with streaming options that could easily make their way to a streaming home.

Major League Baseball’s MLB.tv is something that is offered year round (usually using the feeds from the local team’s affiliate) and the National Football League recently broadcast one of their games between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars not only from London, the United Kingdom but also exclusively streamed over the internet. If the individual leagues can figure out a way to remove the broadcast networks from the equation and monetize their offerings, they will be the first to “cut the cord.”

And this doesn’t even add into the mix the expanding world of mobile programming, or watching traditional television on your cellphone…

The moves by CBS and HBO (and others, to be honest – the situation is rapidly changing) to bypass the traditional network broadcasting routine for straight-to-digital broadcasts signifies a seismic change, a strange new world for the future of television broadcasting. Will the other companies in the industry catch up? Will the cable companies be able to make adjustments in their offerings? Will the streaming channels and the devices that provide them take the idea of “cutting the cable” all the way to the logical fruition of cable’s destruction? The coming years will provide the answers.

“Blindspot” A Grey Story That Keeps You Guessing; “Quantico” Misses the Mark

If the calendar has passed the Autumnal Equinox, it must be time for the newest television shows to hit the airwaves of the traditional television networks. Usually these new programs are retreads of past tropes (cop shows! buddy comedies! fish out of water situations!) or are as intriguing as watching a hangnail, which is pretty much the reason that many viewers have left the traditional networks for the various cable, pay networks (HBO, Showtime, etc.) or the growing streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.). Still, there are a few shows that will break out for the networks and make it worthwhile to watch commercials.

It is estimated that the major television networks call for somewhere between 20-60 “pilots” to be filmed that will give them a crop to go over and decided which are worthy of airing (or, on the other hand, give them fodder for what used to be the “slower” summer schedule). Cable networks may be counted in this as, once a network has decided to pass on a particular project, it may be revived by such networks as TBS, TNT, FX and others for their channel. This doesn’t stop the cable networks – nor the pay networks or the streaming services – from doing their own thing, however, so it’s conceivable that there could be somewhere around 100-150 pilots out there, of which potentially just 20-40 make the cut.

In 2013, there were a grand total of 26 new series’ (comedic, dramas and reality) that premiered on the major television networks. Of that number, only seven (including the outstanding The Blacklist and the iffy Brooklyn Nine-Nine) survived to come back the next season. In 2014, the number of premieres stayed almost the same (25) as did the survival rate (8). For 2015, the number has dropped to 17 and, by the end of the year (hell, maybe by the end of October), we’ll probably have a good idea as to how many of those will come back for a second season next fall.

One of those that should have a long shelf life (or the potential is there for it to have one) is the new NBC series Blindspot (Mondays at 10PM Eastern Time). From the start, the show lays down its premise very well – after Times Square is cleared out due to a duffel bag left in the street, an amnesiac woman emerges from said bag completely covered in intricate tattoos on her naked body – in that this Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) is the key to something. That’s where the story gets a bit grey, though, and it serves to pull the viewer into the program while giving out drips of information along the way.

FBI Special Agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton), the lead investigator following Jane Doe’s – rescue? capture? recovery? you’re really not sure – apparently has a tie to whoever tattooed Doe as one of the decorations on her back addresses her to him by tattooing his name on her directly. Weller discovers after questioning Doe that she doesn’t have any recollections of who she is, who was the artist behind her tattoos or why she was in the bag in Times Square. As Weller – and the audience – finds out deeper into the program, these aren’t the only mysteries that Jane Doe brings to the table.

In the premiere episode, one of Jane Doe’s tattoos – a few lines of a Chinese dialect hidden behind an ear – are translated by Doe (amazing the FBI agents around her, including Weller) as an address in New York City. Heading to the address with Doe in tow (who is understandably quite interested in figuring out what the hell is going on), the FBI finds that a Chinese national is plotting to blow up the Statue of Liberty. At the same time, we learn a bit more about Doe as, while she is attempting to stop a man from beating his wife in the apartment complex, she shows off hand-to-hand combat moves that would make Jason Bourne proud in taking down two attackers.

The investigation – into both the Chinese national’s plot and Doe herself – continues, where we learn that Doe COULD be a “black ops” agent trained by the Navy Seals. Meanwhile, the FBI team rushes to the Statue of Liberty, where Weller and Doe take the terrorist down as Doe unlocks a part of her memory – her undergoing weapons training with an unknown bearded gentleman – and prevent the attack from taking place.

While we won’t get into the gist of the second episode (a fascinating story about a former military pilot who hacks a drone to carry out attacks on U. S. soil against those who wronged him), you’ll get enough from the first two episodes to see that this is a show that will have some staying power. Overall it is a “grey” story in that the characters all have some faults that they have to work through, the heroes aren’t all wearing white hats and the bad guys aren’t all twirling their mustaches. For Weller, it is the disappearance of a childhood friend that drove him to join the FBI; for other agents on the team, it is in how much they can trust Doe; for Doe herself, it is who she actually is and if she’s actually a force for good or a tool put in place to cause eventual catastrophe.

The only thing that might derail Blindspot is if it becomes an episodic “Terrorist of the Week” show. Sure, we need to know what happened to Jane Doe, but the team doesn’t need to stop a terrorist from destroying the Five Boroughs every week or stop some sort of crime. Through the usage of the tattoos covering Doe (that seems to be the directional after they are translated by the supercomputer built by the scientist working with the team), we’d like to see them give us more information about the characters and have them grow along with our knowledge of Doe. As long as Blindspot can keep me guessing, I am going to be hooked on the show.

The same cannot be said for the new ABC show Quantico (Sundays at 10PM Eastern Time). The open of the program introduces us to first generation Indian-American newbie FBI agent Alex Parrish (superb Indian actress Priyanka Chopra), who is lying amidst the rubble of a massive terrorist attack in New York City (apparently it has become OK again to depict the Big Apple as the target of terrorists, but that’s an argument for another time). After being plucked from the wreckage by fellow agents and New York’s finest, they put her to the task of identifying from her FBI training class the person who is responsible for the attack.

Here is the first problem with Quantico. From the Incident Command Post in New York, we are whisked back to when Parrish heads off to training with the FBI at its namesake headquarters. Along the way, we are quickly introduced to other members of her class:  a gay man, a Muslim woman, a “legacy” whose parents were both FBI agents and, of course, a hunky guy that Parrish meets on the plane to Quantico and has sex with in his car upon hitting the ground in Virginia (Parrish doesn’t believe she’ll ever meet the guy again; she’s slightly surprised when he shows up in her training class).

The problem is the constant “time hopping” back and forth of the program. Just when you’re beginning to get a gist for what is going on in “real time” (the terrorist attack), you’re pulled out of the situation and plopped back to when the major players were at Quantico undergoing training. While there are moments that push along the plotline (SPOILER ALERT:  a suicide in the premiere episode, driven by an exercise in investigation, brings out plenty of information), the overall feeling of the “school days” of the FBI agent-wannabes is that’s where the writers and producers want to push the “sexy” side of the story, with more emphasis on individuals hooking up than their coursework. Instead of concentrating on one side or the other, you’re never really sure what is supposed to be the main story that is being told by the writers.

By the end of the first episode, it is pretty easy to deduce what is going to happen. Parrish, as she is shocked to learn, is believed to be responsible for the terrorist act and is taken away in cuffs and leg irons on the order of one of her FBI instructors Liam O’Connor (Josh Hopkins). While they are driving away from the scene of the crime, the driver whips out a stun gun and zaps the guard sitting beside the driver and busts Parrish out; the driver is Parrish’s Quantico class director Agent Miranda Shaw (Aunjanue Ellis), who informs Parrish she is being framed for the terrorist attack and has to find out who actually did it (it is still a member of her graduating class from Quantico) and who is setting her up to take the fall.

The major problem that I have with Quantico is that I normally don’t like when my television programming is 50/50. You’ve got to be able to pull me in with a solid story and a raison d’etre before you start pushing different storyline arcs at me. In the case of this program, the writers have admitted they wanted to do a soap opera-style Die Hard; for me, that’s a no-go. I’d rather have the action than the bed-hopping, backstabbing and other “intrigue” that shows up in the soap opera genre. Put this together with the “time hopping” and I have to admit that Quantico is either something I’ll watch in passing or won’t bother tuning into again.