Saturday, July 02, 2005

Live8 - Rich in Talent, Poor on MTV

"If advertising had a little more respect for the public, the public would have a lot more respect for advertising." James Randolph Adams

As one of the millions--if not billions--of people around the world watching Live8 from home, I have to say it's quite a show. Just not on MTV.

In the Live8 domain, London is King. And MTV should be showcasing it fulltime, along with the rest of the concerts. But in the MTV world, Money is King. And the audience are paupers.

In London, U2, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, Coldplay, Pink Floyd, The Who and more. In Philly: Stevie Wonder, Will Smith, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews Band, Josh Groban, Def Leppard, Black Eyed Peas, Bon Jovi and other local talents. In Toronto, Bryan Adams, Jet, Celine Dion, Barenaked Ladies and Neil Young.

Kinda odd, but Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Duran Duran are gettin down in Rome, of all places. Equally strange is the lineup in Paris: Shakira, the Cure, Andrea Bocelli, and James Brown (James Brown in Paris?). And though the Berlin bill is small, at least it's got Green Day and Brian Wilson. They're smart in Berlin too, showing a lot of performances from London and the other venues.

You know who else is smart? AOL. The beleaguered online service may have it's problems, but it can boast arguably one of the best music sites on the Internet. And they've come through Bigtime for Live8. Almost flawless streaming video, live from every concert venue. I've been switching back and forth like a maniac, from one great performance to another. For this complicated stream to work, the concert picture is pretty small. A minor glitch, as are the lag times in text updates of current performers. But great sound, no interruptions and no ads -- just all Live8 all over the world

Sting is singing 'I'll Be Watching You' live in London, the crowd is going crazy. And what's on MTV? A car commercial. Then a rerun of Bono's Philly performance from this morning.

What are they thinking?

Celine Dion is belting it out live from Vegas (don't ask) into the Toronto concert. Everyone is singing along. Dion's not my cuppa, but she's a huge draw. So what's on MTV? A powerade drink commercial and canned interviews with the Philly crowd.

What are they doing??

Mariah Carey is performing 'Hero' live in London with the African Children's Choir -- real African orphans who are, as she says, "survivors." Let's remember, they're what Live8 is all about. And what's on MTV? A commercial for underarm deodorant.

What is their problem???

Back in London, Robbie Williams started with 'We Will Rock You," brought down the house with 'Let Me Entertain You' ("I've got a soul but I'm not a soldier") and then the whole crowd joined him in his love anthem 'Feel.' And what's on MTV? Ads -- for the lousy movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, for a phone service, for a car, for MTV itself.

What the HELL is wrong with MTV????

Right now, Stevie Wonder--not only a legendary superstar, but an original Live Aid performer and organizer--is rockin out in Philly. And what's on MTV? You guessed it, another commercial.

It's shameful. And yet, predictable. The MTV cutaways to PSA's about Africa and poverty stand in stark contrast to their blatant pandering to the Money Gods throughout this day. Did no sponsor figure out that a crawl across the screen while U-2 or Paul McCartney are bringing down the house would get them more eyeballs than yanking those performances away from viewers?

They just did it again! Stevie is singing his heart out right here in Philly--and up close and personal on AOL-- while ads are tuning viewers out on MTV.

Live8 is all about stopping poverty in Africa, but here in the good old USA, MTV and its advertisers are all about raking in the almighty dollar. There's a lesson in that, but now, if you don't mind, I'm going to sit in front of my computer and enjoy the Wonder of Stevie on AOL.

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