Friday, February 6, 2009

The Boss doesn't pump his gas - he pumps his fists

It has only been a week since we last checked in on him, but Bruce Springsteen has been so damn busy making headlines that it feels like we need to run a weekly recap on all things Boss. In true Garden State fashion, we're going to attempt to bring you up to speed on The Bruce by rating his recent newsworthy moments on a scale of one to five Rockin New Jersey Fist Pumps. Five Jersey Fists for the most bitchin possible news, one Jersey Fist if you'd rather pump your own gas than read that story. And away we go!

So, back in January, Springsteen released a greatest hits collection exclusively with Wal Mart. Just ten bucks for E Street's greatest hits? Not a bad deal, right? Well, not until you recall that Wal Mart has been accused of anti-union practices, paid major fines for violating labor laws, basically represents all that is soulless and evil in the world of corporate sleaze, and, you know, pretty much violates all of Bruce's core principles. The fans called him out on it, and Bruce issued a heartfelt mea culpa, calling the Wal Mart deal a "mistake." We can't let him off the hook entirely for the Wal Mart exclusive, but for hearing his fans and copping to his misstep, Bruce gets 2 Jersey Fists here.

Springsteen's PR blitz continued and really kicked into high gear at the Super Bowl, where he and the band gave their first press conference since 1987 (this still makes no sense to me) to joke about The Boss' complete lack of interest in football and speculate on the highly anticipated halftime show. No details were given, but Springsteen promised a "12 minute party," and on Sunday that's exactly what went down. The show was every bit the electric, rollicking performance that Springsteen fans have lauded for the last 30 years, and The Boss cemented his Super Bowl legacy when he delivered the most widely watched crotch-first into-your-living-room power slide in television history. Around the world, it was Boss Time. This is a no brainer: 5 Jersey Fists. Great 4-song set, vintage Springsteen ebullience, and a power crotch slide smack into a cameraman...come on. The look he gave to the camera right when it happened was worth 3 fist pumps by itself (Yes, I am aware that only Bruce's vocals were actually "live," but if the National Anthem can be pre-recorded, then so can Steve, Max and the Big Man. My opinion on this will not change. The 5 Jersey Fists stand).

Everyone loves the halftime show, except for Stephen Metcalf, Slate's resident high-minded shit-eater who trashed the performance because the set list failed to include "The Wrestler." Really? Granted, the song is wonderful and just won a Golden Globe, but really? Stephen Metcalf, you sir have earned yourelf one single solitary Jersey Fist - right in your fucking eye. That's how we handle things in the Meadowlands.

Not long after the Super Bowl performance (the very next morning in fact), tickets for Springsteen's "Working On A Dream" world tour went on sale on Ticketmaster. Legions of fans tried to log on and buy tickets at 9:00AM, but many encountered erroneous error messages and, worse still, were automatically redirected to Ticketmaster's reselling secondary site, TicketsNow, which offered tickets at far above face value. Once again, corporate America was putting the screws to The Bruce. Bad idea, Ticketmaster. You do not fuck with E Street Nation. Having learned quickly from the Wal Mart flare-up, Bruce, manager Jon Landau and the Springsteen Tour Team posted a strongly worded apologetic letter to fans on Springsteen's official site, condemning Ticketmaster and publicly railing against a possible merger between Ticketmaster and LiveNation, who just one week prior had infuriated Phish fans with a similar fiasco (and actually managed to make hippies everywhere nostalgic for their longtime nemesis, Ticketmaster, which has in fact always sucked). The New Jersey Attorney General announced an investigation into the incident, and Ticketmaster has since apologized to Springsteen and vowed to make amends to befuddled fans (riiiight....). You have to applaud The Boss' reaction to the situation, and at least Ticketmaster is admitting that they effed up, but none of that changes the fact that I didn't get tickets for shit. 2 Jersey Fists.

Late Monday night into Tuesday morning, long-standing rumors were finally confirmed when Bonnaroo announced its lineup, which will be headlined by 2 nights of Phish and one night of Springsteen and the E Street Band. I stated my opinions (and got Cartman's thoughts) on this matter months ago when the rumors came out, and I have since made it abundantly clear that I plan to be haulin ass to Tennessee come June. The lineup could not possibly be better, but it's worth raising an eyebrow over the fact that fans of Bruce and Phish just experienced epic ticket on-sale disasters, and as the two companies who perpetrated said disasters now talk of merging, the two bands will meet as headliners of the biggest festival of the summer. I'm no less excited, but there is reason for pause when the first wave of 'Roo tickets go on sale Saturday at noon, and though we can be glad that Bonnaroo at least takes care of ticket sales through its own site, this tiny seed of doubt knocks this news down a peg to 4 Jersey Fists.

Finally, Wednesday we learned that "Working On A Dream" became 2009's biggest debut, selling nearly 224,000 copies in its first week for a No. 1 ranking on the Billboard top 200. Most of those sales actually came before the Super Bowl performance. The album was given a 5-star review in Rolling Stone, and following all the crotch-sliding, Bonnaroo hype, and Ticketmaster hoopla (any publicity is good publicity!) should only go on to sell even more. More importantly, Springsteen finally knocked Taylor Swift (ok, I'm sorry, but... who?) out of the top spot after an eight-week reign. Long live The Boss!
4 Jersey Fists

So now that you're all caught up, don't forget to buy your Bonnaroo tickets on Saturday. Until next week, when I'll inevitably have to recap yet another blitz of Springsteen news, enjoy Conan O'Brien's best attempt to recreate Bruce's Super Crotch Slide. This should keep you well entertained all weekend.

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