Thursday, December 22, 2005

Video Countdown Hell

It's getting close to the end of the year which means we will be coming under increasing assault from the lowest form of entertainment: the countdown show. The big holiday event when I was a kid was the New Year's Eve classic rock top 500 songs of all time super-countdown. You know, "Stairway to Heaven" was always number one and there was an overabundance of Eagles "hits."

But, that grand era has passed—you know what video did to the radio star. Taking its place is the paltry video countdown. Take VH1's "Top 40 of 2005," which has been running on an endless loop since early November.

Little more than a celebration of platinum sales and blandness, VH1's countdown features vapid non-celebrities yammering pointlessly over minuscule clips of videos by such luminaries as Kanye West, Green Day and Mariah Carey, [spoiler alert] who takes number one honors.

It's bad enough to have someone talking over the music in the style of Behind the Music. (What ever happened to actually watching the videos?) What makes it worse is that VH1 has hired the most insipid gaggle of nobodys to do the commentary. They're so reverential and—worse—unfunny, it makes you wonder if these people actually pay VH1 to be on for the exposure. They certainly get their money's worth since VH1 has chosen to focus on the "talent" while the video plays in a little postage stamp-sized box on the edge of the screen.

Some of the commentary is so obvious that I'm convinced it's really there to provide voiceovers for the blind. Oh, really! The Coldplay "Speed of Sound" video is filmed in front of a large bank of colored lights. Thank you for telling me. Now I don't have to open my eyes. These countdowns, like most of the songs on them, actually make you stupider with every exposure.

I'll admit, it's kind of hard not to appreciate the whitest utterance of the phrase "flip the script" in history, but I keep coming back to this depressing thought: there are actually people putting their stint on the "Top 40 of 2005" on their resumes. No wonder the holidays are the most depressing time of year.
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