Sometimes I think I should've gone to school for marketing.
Instead, I was a Speech major, which is kinda funny seeing as I'm one of the most awkward small-talkers on the planet. The only time I'm really good at small talk is if I'm passionate about something that I want YOU to be passionate about as well. Just ask my co-workers -- over the years, I've talked them into listening to bands they normally wouldn't, watch TV shows they normally wouldn't, and even try food they normally wouldn't. Once, I even talked one of my co-workers into adopting a stray dog that I found.
In other words, I'm good at marketing. Which makes sense, because I'm even better at being a mark.
As I type this, I'm so tired that I'm barely lucid. Why? Because I'm an easy mark. Last night, I was minutes from shutting off the TV and hitting the pillow when "Last Call with Carson Daly" came on. You know, the late show that comes on AFTER the late show that comes on after the late show? And just as I was reaching for the remote control, I heard Carson go, "...and we'll finish with an exclusive live clip from the group some are saying could be the next big thing."
That's nice, Carson, but I need to go to... wait, the next big thing? And I haven't heard of them? I don't like to be uninformed when it comes to new bands. Darn it, though, it's pretty late. I need to go to sleep. Click went the remote and off went the TV.
It stayed off for seven minutes. That's how long it took until the thought of NOT knowing the next big thing caused me to get up out of bed and turn the TV back on. I just had to wait a half hour until the clip was on. Finally, I was face to screen with the band some are saying could be the next big thing.
Annnnnnnd they won't be. In fact, this band pretty much sucked. The world is not yearning for a three-member band who barely look old enough to be out of high school playing incredibly bland surf-punk while a sea of kids mosh and stage-dive around them. "Some are saying they could be the next big thing." Precisely WHO is saying this, Carson? Their girlfriends? Their classmates? Their moms? When I was a kid, we thought our high school band could be the next big thing, too. Their 8-song repertoire consisted of reggae covers of Beatles songs and one original called "Butt Ugly Women." They never made it to the radio, and neither will this band.
But, my sleep-addled brain argued, perhaps I'm not being fair. Maybe one three-minute live clip isn't enough to fully appreciate the genius of this band that clearly "some" think are amazing. I'd better do some more research.
And THAT is why I sit here sleep-deprived today, for I was still awake at 2 a.m. last night watching clip after clip of a sucky band continue their assault of suckage throughout the internet at large. The Carson Daly clip wasn't a fluke -- they're just a terrible band. Once again, I had fallen victim to the hype machine.
I like to consider myself a human being of at least moderate intelligence. When presented with hype, I should be able to see right through it, ignore the ballyhoo, and see it for the strategic marketing campaign that it is. Nnnnnope. If something's presented to me as new, amazing, or exciting", I'll be the idiot queueing up to throw money at it. A sandwich where the buns are made of fried chicken? Sign me up! A taco inside a gordita INSIDE A BURRITO? Yes please! I once bought a new car based entirely on the music used in its TV ad campaign.
If you ask me, the undisputed local master of hype is music promoter Sean Moeller. For years helming Daytrotter and now on his own, Sean has spent great effort turning the Quad Cities into a Midwestern music mecca. He's also one of the very best people I know and I'm proud to call him a friend. But if you want a lesson in how to use hype to your advantage, look no further than Sean's Facebook account.
Two days ago, I was greeted with this message: "ANNOUNCING A HUGE BARN SHOW this Thursday. GIGANTIC news Monday. And lots more show announcements this week! Just sayin'." By the time this column prints, all will be revealed, but I'm writing this on Wednesday night, and I guarantee I get a bad night's sleep tonight just wondering about this barn show and what this "gigantic" news could be.
Odds are high that it'll be some band or artist I'm "meh" about. On the other hand, it could be a band I'm really excited about. "You've got me all hyped about these announcements," I wrote on Sean's Facebook page. His cryptic reply just now? "You should VERY much be hyped." SQUEEEEEEEE! WHAT DOES IT MEAN???
Of course, now that I'm all in, anything less than a full Beatles reunion featuring the reanimated corpses of John Lennon and George Harrison will end up being a let-down. But in my never-ending efforts to be at the cusp of all things cool, I want to know. I need to know. I have been infected with hype.
I'm just glad I'm not the only one who falls into the hype trap from time to time. After all, they say a sucker's born every minute. On an absolutely unrelated note, next week's column is going to be new, amazing, and exciting! Some say it might be the next big thing! Just sayin'.