Hits that missed
OPTIMISTIC NOTE Let's hope that 2006 brings in lots of good music
Gone are the days when, as eager teenagers, we used to treasure the rare, but distilled chart shows on national television, hoping to figure out what music was the most popular and, consequently, a must have. Since the entry of 24 x 7 cable TV, we have been overloaded with chart-based shows on the many `music channels' beamed into our homes, making audiences jaded and aware of the distinction between popular music and good music. There were many albums released in 2005 that didn't get a good enough chance at the coveted number one chart position.
Perhaps the dampest squib of the year, the eagerly awaited fifth studio album of the Dave Matthews Band, "Stand Up", bungled its chances at popularity with a series of unwitting mistakes. Despite a tremendously popular live act, the band has been struggling in the studio; "Stand Up" was intended to cleanse audiences' memories of the Glen-Ballard-produced, insipid "Everyday". However, combined with a badly timed controversy around the spyware-like Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that came with the CD, the series of errors alienated hardcore fans of the band.
Another artiste who has faced her share of ups and downs, Sheryl Crow released "Wildflower" in 2005. To listeners most familiar with her repertoire up to "Globe Sessions", Crow's previous album, "C'mon C'mon", was a grim reminder of the artiste's battle with drug addiction. Though it generated the uncharacteristically saccharine-sweet hit "Soak up the Sun", dedicated Crow fans were hoping for a return to her classic roots style. "Wildflower" delivered precisely this; the laid-back, introspective new album returns to the vintage Sheryl Crow but could never hope to match the commercial success of its predecessor.
For Ry Cooder, the year brought tremendous creative satisfaction with "Chávez Ravine" getting uniformly ecstatic reviews.
However, the concept album telling the story of Chávez Ravine, a town demolished in the 1950s in order to lure the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles, faced anonymity on the charts as expected.
The hilarious antics and `naked' performance power of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has definitely been pickled for posterity, but guitarist John Frusciante's attempt to showcase the musician behind the showman received only marginal commercial success in 2005. The last in a set of solo recordings completed in 2004, "Curtains", released on February 1, 2005, had committed fans writing long, congratulatory reviews.
The most spectacular chart catastrophe, however, has to be the long-hyped, and much-awaited opera written by former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters. Titled "Ça Ira", the three-act opera about the French Revolution, that apparently took 16 years to write, was somewhat reluctantly released in 2005. Listed on the classical music catalogue, but discredited by most critics as unauthentic, the album never stood a chance of becoming a hit. A quick mention has to be made of David Gray's "Life in Slow Motion", the follow up to the hugely successful "White Ladder". Though he's still singing about life's bittersweet challenges, Gray has made good use of the commercial rewards of his previous album by spending lavishly on the orchestration and production of "Life in Slow Motion".
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