Hey everyone, July is here! For me, that means a day off for Independence Day, my wife’s birthday at the end of the month, and Comic Con on the horizon! Yep, with the Season 5 finale almost 2 months in our rear view mirror, it’s time to start looking ahead. The premiere of LOST’s 6th and final season is now about 7 months away (that still seems incredibly long, doesn’t it?), and Team Darlton has promised to reveal a bunch about how Season 6 will play out at LOST’s final Comic Con panel later this month. I’m still frantically trying to secure tickets to the sold out event so I can bring you the latest news from the panel, as well as share with you what I believe will be a very interesting and possibly strange experience.
But even before we get to Comic Con, it’s actually been an eventful June for LOST. In fact, I’d have to say that it’s probably been the most eventful June (at least that I can remember) in the history of the show. For those of you that don’t want to know anything about the final season, avert your eyes now. For those that are eager for any tidbits of info available, here’s what happened over the past month (some or all of which you may have already heard):
First, Matthew Fox confirmed to an audience in Monte Carlo that he indeed knows the endgame of LOST, and that he’s excited about how it’s going to end. He mentions that the resolution of the Season 5 cliffhanger will be “surprising and probably fairly confusing”, that at some point in Season 6 there will be no more flashbacks, that he knows that Jack is going to go head-to-head with Locke again in the final season, and that he thinks the final scenes of the show will be “incredibly powerful, very sad, and beautiful”. He also hints that after LOST, he’ll be done with TV, and will focus almost exclusively on movies.
Next, Team Darlton has confirmed that Emile de Ravin (Claire) will be back for Season 6 as a show regular. That bit of news was informally known for quite some time, but the producers have now made it official. You can read the full article here: http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/2009/06/ask-ausiello-spoilers-on-lost-the-closer-weeds-true-blood-burn-notice-the-office-and-more.html
After that bit of good news, we were hit with the even better info that LOST’s final season has been bumped from the original 17 hours planned to 18. The season will be bookended with a 2-hour premiere and a 2-hour finale. (LOST viewing party at my place!) You can read the full article here: http://www.thrfeed.com/2009/06/final-lost-season-gains-an-hour-.html
Finally, Team Darlton admits that they’re trying to get all of the original cast back together for some portion of the final season, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko) has expressed remorse about the circumstances in which he left the show, and is lobbying for a chance to return and give his character closure.
When Adewale originally left the show, he was dealing with the deaths of both of his parents, and he wanted to return to London to do some directing.
However, my impression of the split was not one that seemed to be very amicable. I think that Adewale might have some fences to mend if he’s going to come back. In any event, here’s hoping that they find a way to bring him back. I’d love to see a few more scenes with Mr. Eko.
Alright, so I know that this is a LOST blog, but I’m going to take a slight tangent away from my favorite TV show, and discuss something else in the entertainment industry. None of what follows has anything to do with LOST, so if you don’t care, feel free to check out here and not be concerned about what you may miss.
Still with me? Cool. Let me give you a bit of background before I get too far into it. When I was younger (I think it started around 11 or 12), I remember one of my favorite events of the week was to listen to “American Top 40” with Casey Kasem. I faithfully tuned in right at the start when Casey kicked it off with #40, and listened all the way through to #1. Typically I was doing other things while I listened…watching a ball game, playing a video game, maybe even doing homework…but I always loved to tune in to the show.
Later in life, I began to grow reminiscent of those times and those songs. I had a pie-in-the-sky dream that perhaps one day, when I had enough money, I’d go back and buy all of those old songs so I could listen to them whenever I wanted to take a trip down memory lane. Of course, through the tail end of the 80s and throughout the 90s, that pie-in-the-sky dream was just that…a dream. To go back and try to buy old catalog albums for just one or two songs…well, that would cost a fortune.
Enter iTunes. When I heard about the theory and business model of iTunes, I couldn’t believe it. I could finally go back and cherry-pick all of the songs I wanted for my life-long dream. And instead of costing me $10-$15 per song I wanted, it would only cost me 99 cents! With a cost-effective method in place for purchasing the songs, I now only needed a methodical way of accessing the old charts. After a bit of digging, I found some books by Joel Whitburn that reprodcued all of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in a decade-long segments. You can find them here: https://www.recordresearch.com/billboard_chart_collections/billboard_hot100_charts_the_eighties.php
Of course, I snatched them up for the 80s and 90s, started the same process for the current charts, and was on my way. It’s been a great hobby, and I’ve now collected all of the songs that have ever hit the Top 10 for all of the 80s. My goal is that by the end of 2010, I’ll have every song that cracked the top 10 of Billboard’s Top 100 from 1980 through 2010. That may seem anal retentive or overkill to some of you, but to me, it’s pretty exciting.
Anyway, why the long-winded background story? Well, I wanted to make sure that you understood the level of fanaticism I have about the Billboard charts. My interest in what appears there is not just a passing fancy…I’m probably what you would call a “student” of the charts and its history.
Which is why it troubles me so much that the folks at Billboard have made what I deem to be a nearly arbitrary decision regarding excluding Michael Jackson from the charts this week.
You may have heard, after Michael Jackson’s death last week, his songs have been generating incredibly high levels of air time. In addition, his catalog songs and albums have been selling like hotcakes, both at storefronts (where retailers are running out of his work), and online through digital downloads through sites like iTunes. But despite the increased airplay and song purchases that would certainly put his music on the current charts, Billboard has stated that both The Billboard 200 and Hot 100 charts will not track Jackson’s renaissance, because those charts are for “current” music. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/chart-beat-bonus/chart-beat-dierks-bentley-seether-heidi-1003989497.story
First of all, I’ve got a problem with the way in which they’re defining “current”. Isn’t what the public chooses to buy and listen to at the present time the true definition of “current”? Trying to define what’s “current” based upon what’s recent;y been released is an exercise in futility.
Didn’t remakes of “Auld Lang Syne” by Kenny G in 2000 (to bring in the new millenium) and “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Whitney Houston in 1991 (for Super Bowl 25) become “current” enough to chart on the Hot 100? (The answer, by the way, is yes: “Auld Lang Syne” peaked at number 7 in 1999 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_G#Singles, and “The Star-Spangled Banner” cracked the top 20 in 1991. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitney_Houston#1987-91:_Whitney.2C_I.27m_Your_Baby_Tonight.2C_and_the_.22Star_Spangled_Banner.22 )
But what I think is the biggest indictment of Billboard’s decision is the fact that several different songs have re-charted at different times, based upon “current” popularity.
- “The Twist” by Chubby Checker hit #1 in 1960, and then again in 1962.
- The Contours hit the top 20 with “Do You Love Me” in 1962, and then again in 1988
- “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers charted in both 1965 and 1990
- Queen cracked the top 10 with “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 1976, and then again in 1992
For each of the last 3 occurences, the re-chart came due to a song being part of a famous movie’s soundtrack. But even if that were the mitigating factor for allowing those songs to chart but not MJ’s, it’s easy to make the argument that in this day and age, a re-release is not needed. Digital downloads are as much a part of today’s culture as vinyl, tape, or compact disc was in their respective times, and the availability of Jackson’s work via that format should suffice. In fact, Billboard does use digital download statistics in their figures for compiling the Hot 100, but apparently only if the music is “current”.
Of course, I do have one last example which cannot be explained by any of Billboard’s smeantics. And that’s “Into The Night” by Benny Mardones. For those of you that may not be familiar with the story, “Into The Night” was released back in 1980, to modest success, as the song peaked at #11. In 1989, the song once again received heavy airplay, simply because DJs in Phoenix and LA wondered what happened to “the guy that sang ‘Into The Night'”, and started playing the record on-air for nostalgic purposes.
Billboard allowed “Into The Night” to re-chart in 1989. Billboard has not allowed any of Jackson’s songs to re-chart, despite having 6 of the 10 most downloaded songs of the past week.
(note that this chart will be outdated with respect to this post on 7/9/2009)
Airplay figures are hard to decipher relative to the Top 100 since Billboard does not produce a comprehensive airplay chart in a similar fashion to downloads, but that’s the point here. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how Jackson’s song’s resurgence *would have* played out on the charts? Wouldn’t it have been interesting to see if he could conquer the charts posthemously? (We know for a fact that we would have topped the Billboard 200, it’s much less clear with the Hot 100.)
Even if Billboard felt as though they absolutely had to stick to their guns regarding their chart methodology (which I’m not convinced explicitly excludes this situation), couldn’t they have paid homage to Jackson by providing us with a “What If” chart, showing how he would have done?
Overall, I’m simply disappointed that Billboard could not find a way to intgrate this unique situation into their charts as a way to provide a historical record of this event. While Billboard struggles to explain their arbitrary decisions to audiophiles around the country (and even the world…Jackson has popped up all over the UK chart, which does not have the same restrictions that Billboard does), it seems to me that Michael Jackson, even after his death, is the one that’s showing Billboard exactly who’s “current”, and who just might be irrelevant.
So ends my rant, but if you want to read more on the charts, and specifically, this week’s Michael Jackson controversy, I recommend “Chart Watch” on Yahoo. http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/chart_watch/35893/week-ending-june-28-2009-hes-still-setting-records/ I won’t be blogging about the charts anytime soon (at least not until after LOST is over, and probably not even then), so if this was at all interesting to you, I recommend you run on over there for a weekly fix.
That’s it for now, hopefully I’ll be back in about 4 weeks with an in-person report on the LOST goings-on at Comic Con!