Pop stars tweeting nudie pics, music videos meant to offend, freeway jam sessions and even a kitty listening party? 2010 was rife with publicity stunts that were were meant to be edgy, but really were just, well, stupid. We thought we'd seen it all, but 2010 brought out the worst and the weirdest in musicians (and the music industry types controlling them). As an examination of how musicians tried to get our attention this year, we've compiled the top weird and terrible publicity stunts from 2010:
5. Secret Shows
The tried-and-true music industry tactic of unleashing a secret show on unsuspecting fans came to an all time high in 2010 as bands Tweeted, Facebooked, and Social Media'ed their surreptitious performance plans. Sometimes a secret show will go down pretty well, but most of the time, they're just huge shitshowy, clusterfuckish organizational nightmares at venues. Sure, the bands get lots of fans hyping up the event, talking to their friends about it, and holding the internet hostage with digital hearsay. But while this is good for the bands, secret shows ultimately are bad for fans. Most people will wait in line, but never get in, wasting an afternoon in a publicity stunt that uses fans as pawns for the sake of buzz.
4. Animal Gimmicks
One of the most effective ways to get your anything seen on the internet is to somehow find a way to include some cute wittle animals. Entire business models have been forged for the practice, and in 2010 we witnessed bands trying to capitalize off the cuteness craze. The king of all cat gimmicks? Devo's cat listening party.
3. Getting Banned
In the anything-goes age of the internet, “getting banned” seems nearly impossible. But somehow, a few artists this year managed to get their album art and videos banned from YouTube, Wal-mart, and more. M.I.A.'s “Born Free” video directed by Romain Gavras got banned from YouTube and Kanye West's My Dark Twisted Fantasy album was banned from Wal-Mart due to its album cover. Of course, “banned” status only makes the demand for the products even more intense, and the act of defiance lands the artist as a top story on the news-ravenous web producers who trolling the internet. Kanye's take: “Banned in the USA!!! … In the 70s album covers had actual nudity… It's so funny that people forget that… Everything has been so commercialized now.”
2. “Accidentally” tweeting naked pictures of yourself
Probably the best way to remind the universe of your existence is to “accidentally” snap a naked picture of yourself, then “accidentally” post it to Twitter. Or so we are lead to believe by musicians who posted up nudies this year via the microblogging site. Throughout the course of 2010, Christina Aguilera, Courtney Love, and Paramour's Hayley Williams all “suffered” from “accidental” Internet broadcasts of images of their bits and pieces. We also saw Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne post naked pix of his wife, but these seem less like a publicity stunt and more like a window into their weird world. (Yes, there she is grinding coffee in undies and go-go boots.) But for past and present pop stars, it seems that blasting some nips is the most effective way to become Twitter queen for the day.
1. Deliberately causing a massive, potentially deadly traffic jam to promote your shitty-ass music
1. Back in October a ridiculously stupid band, which we will not name, decided to park their van in in the southbound lane of the 101 Freeway. The driver of the van ran off with the keys leaving the California Highway Patrol to tow their embarrassingly-designed truck off the freeway, while the band sat atop it. They stopped up traffic so much that it reportedly took an hour to travel three miles.
Usually the blame for a traffic jam is diffused across the thousands of cars driving idiotically on the freeway, but when this terrible, terrible band executed this abysmal stunt, they felt the concentrated anger of (approximately) 2 bajillion furious Angelenos focusing their rage together with the force of a fully operational Death Star.