Volume 96, Issue 98
Thursday, April 3, 2003

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Muchmusic's demise and the rise of crap

Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

Ah, the mid-'90s. The trap was ruining the National Hockey League, Matthew Perry was on the skinny side of the drug weight yo-yo and the world was just waking up to the genius of Will Ferrell.

It was also the last time that MuchMusic was halfway decent to watch. Remember back when videos used to compose 90 per cent of Much's content? The brief interlude between the grunge and pop eras opened the door for all sorts of interesting bands. Even the pop acts were a cut above, like Janet Jackson before she decided to market herself as a skank (gotta love that family...).

However, nowadays the magic is gone from the corner of Queen and John. Much has become the thing it feared the most: MTV. Instead of wall-to-wall videos, it is full of crappy "original programming" like Gonna Meet A Rock Star. You'd think that disinterested musicians meeting their hyper fans would be a comedy goldmine, but I have yet to see even one fan wrapping themselves around a star's leg for an entire show.

The videos that do get shown are more and more of the generic boy/girl pop music and watered-down hip-hop that everyone is already sick of hearing on the radio. MuchMusic's only saving grace is that CRTC regulations demand that Canadian artists make up approximately a third of each day's programming. Since the majority of popular Canadian acts are bands like The Tragically Hip, you can still get your rock fix – but even this is under siege from the plague that is Shawn Desman and B4-4.

I think Moses Znaimer is getting mellow in his old age. The Much/CityTV/CHUM empire used to be the hippest and edgiest thing on network TV. Remember when you could always see Erika Eleniak's topless scene at approximately 8:55 p.m., whenever City showed Under Siege at 8 p.m. on any random weeknight? Ah, memories.

These days, Ed the Sock can barely swear anymore. Can you believe that? It's like telling Mickey Mantle he can only hit from one side of the plate.

Ed is leaving in two weeks, thus leaving George Stromboulgreekname and the legally insane Bradford How as Much's only worthwhile VJs. The rest of them are merely tributes to mediocrity – take Amanda, for instance, who always looks like she's either half-asleep or stoned.

I find myself watching more and more of Much's sister station, MuchMoreMusic. Sure, you've got to put up with some adult contemporary, but the focus of the station is edging towards more of a mix. You can conceivably see Lauryn Hill, Tom Petty and the White Stripes all in a row.

Maybe it's just the fact that I'm getting old and I can't relate to the music that these young whippersnappers play. Perhaps in 50 years I'll be sitting on my front porch, listening to Pearl Jam on the oldies station and yelling at my grandkids for not appreciating the classics.


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