With seven years of music journalism under my belt, I'm no grizzled veteran, but neither am I so green that I can't recognize a suicide mission when I see one.
"No way," I said when my editor asked me for a piece on the weirdest music on MySpace, your one-stop shop for self-released tunes, demographic research and profound social alienation. "Forget it. You guys already made me read a 300-page book on freaking grunge music last month."
"Think about it," said my editor, diabolically twirling the waxy tips of his mustache. "It'll be fun!" He waggled his fingers at me and pinwheels spun in his eyes.
"Yeah," I droned, mesmerized, "fun."
Snookered, I had to figure out how to go about finding the weirdest bands on MySpace, which is kind of like trying to find the weirdest needle in a haystack comprised entirely of needles--so, a needlestack. I decided that for five days, i.e. one working week, I would spend at least one hour per day trawling the needlestack that Tom built (and that Fox Interactive Media co-opted to its sinister ends) to weed out the true charismatics.
DAY 1: Mother of God, where to begin? As of this writing, MySpace Music contains 9,498 profiles--that begin with the letter "A." The total number of bands on MySpace is incalculable, because I can't find my calculator, and my abacus isn't doing the trick. Suffice it to say that, in impolite company, the volume of bands on MySpace might be called a "shitload," which in this case is only partially figurative. It occurs to me that--in a world of culturally acceptable performance art, noise music and The Frogs--"weird" is difficult to quantify. But when I stumble across The Ghetto Kampayne, a trio of white, suburban sex rappers from Illinois, I know that I'm hot on the trail (to borrow Didion's perfect phrase) of the real soufflé, the genuine American kitsch. "The Ghetto Kampayne has zero friends." Art imitates life?
DAY 2: I owe The Ghetto Kampayne a debt of gratitude for helping me figure out what, exactly, I mean by "weird." It isn't the sonically weird that I'm interested in, it's the totally inexplicable; the stuff of mind-warping cultural miscue. So I'm feeling pretty good about myself until I discover ARTEMIS & the Olympians. It is patently impossible to feel good about one's self while listening to ARTEMIS & the Olympians. Some of it is boho spoken-word with deeply unhealthy psychosexual implications; some of it is Casio-driven singer/songwriter fare with deeply unhealthy psychosexual implications; some of it is harpsichord covers of Casio-driven singer/songwriter fare with deeply unhealthy psychosexual implications. All of it makes me feel as if I've lost the plot in some fundamental way.
DAY 3: Slept poorly last night. Every time I closed my eyes, horrid flash animations welled up inside my eyelids. The idea of wading through countless emo bands with names that are either remarkably long or remarkably generic in order to find music that will probably harm me seems much less charming than it did on Day 1. Dispirited, I decide to check out the "Q" section--there are only 397 Qs. I barely begin to scroll down the first column when I discover Quilted Sox Monkey Jungle. Consider that they're filed under "comedy." Consider that their ripe acoustic ballad "Claim to Fame" includes a lyric about having sex with dead girls. My mind!
DAY 4: I am not well. In my peripheral vision, evil smiley faces call "Hell-o-ooo" from unblockable banner ads. I can't shake the feeling that I really could use some free ringtones. I find a profile filed under "Other" called I'm gay like fuk!!! I'm gay like fuk!!!'s art seems to involve posting songs like Lil' flip's Sunshine under titles like "jamms 2." I am not well.
DAY 5: After listening to "spainish balad" by "I abandoned my daughter cuz im a piece of shit" in its 53-second entirety, I come to three conclusions: I'm rather glad they don't have a profile picture because I'm not ready to gaze into the eyes of unmitigated madness, and when this Web 2.0 thing kicks off, it should include some sort of crazylyzer that won't let you start your browser if your blood-crazy level is too high. The third conclusion? That under no circumstances should I listen to IAMDCIAPOS's other offering, "gino's song." But I do, oh Lord, I do. In a way, I've been listening to it ever since.