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Archive for the ‘New Sensation’ Category

New Sensation: Update on the Pop Chart Fantasy League

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 25, 2010

It was brought to my attention recently that although at the beginning of the year, I promised sporadic updates on the Pop Chart Fantasy League on this blog, I’ve actually failed to do so. (In my defense, I haven’t been updating much of anything, and I don’t want all the other projects I’ve neglected to feel bad.) Yet the league is indeed alive and well, about to entire the 36th week of its 52-week season. So lest it fade from the public consciousness entirely, I suppose this is as good a time as any to delve back into all the gory details.

For those of you who have forgotten and/or never knew in the first place, the Pop Chart Fantasy League is basically what it sounds like–a sports-style fantasy league for pop music, where teams draft popular artists and score points based on how high their singles reach on the charts. (A more in-depth explanation can be found here.) This being a fairly unprecedented venture (and no I still don’t want to know if someone else has done this before shut up shut up shut up), there was much about the PCFL that was up in the air at the beginning, but I’m proud to say that so far it’s gone pretty smoothly and enjoyably for all involved, and even prouder to say my team is fucking steamrolling through our inaugural season.

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New Sensation: The Pop Music Fantasy League

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on January 7, 2010

Sorry for the extended break here at Intensities–obviously we needed something of a winter vacation after finally wrapping the 10 Years, 100 Songs project (estimated at probably close to 150,000 words written in all, something like 600 book pages–and you thought it was exhausting just to read), and then also New Years and an inter-borrough move sapped me of the remainder of my free time / will. We’re back now, though, with some plans ambitious and less ambitious for the future–hopefully including a 2010 follow-up to last year’s One Year, 100 Pop Cultures project if I can get up enough ideas and list-making werewithall to complete the project in a semi-timely fashion. Also expect some NBA stuff, one or two pre-Oscar movie sweeps, and possibly even the long-awaited return of DJ Stoopendous, weather-permitting.

But first–the pop culture innovation I am most excited about heading into the 2010s. (The teens? The tennies? Ugh, a whole other decade of this shit.) Several years ago, when I was still way, way more into pop music than I was into pro sports, I wrote a likely-cringeworthy article laying out several ways I wished that the pop music industry operated more like pro sports. One of the six items listed, of course, was in terms of Fantasy Leagues–a world that I had little relation to at the time, but great appreciation for, what with the stats, the intrigue, the trash-talk and the general geekiness. I dreamed that fans of the music world could do the same for their medium of choice, by predicting album sales or MetaCritic scores or some other number-based rubric by which one could qualitatively assess success in the realm of popular music. Well, we ain’t gotta dream no more–in the waning weeks of 2009, myself and six other friends of the blog assembled to conduct a livedraft in what is, to my knowledge (and I’m certainly not going to check to discover otherwise), the first ever Pop Music Fantasy League.

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New Sensation: The High-Concept Title

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 27, 2007

Are you ready for one?

I can’t remember exactly how I came across it, but I was doing some Wikipedia browsing the other day when I came across an entry for an intriguing-looking upcoming 2007 release. I think I found it because I was looking at Topher Grace’s page (whose real name is apparently Christopher, and he just dropped the Chris part–I never would’ve guessed), and saw that he was going to be in the movie. It stars him as William Cox (bold because this becomes key later), and the only plot description thusfar given is that he meets the girl of his dreams, but has to fend off advances from her ex-boyfriend (played by Sean William Scott) who wants to get back with her. Relatively nothing plot–even sounds a little like Win a Date With Tad Hamilton–but you haven’t heard the real sell yet. The title of this movie is going to be–wait for it–


That’s right, Coxblocker. This isn’t the working title or anything, this is what they are actually planning on calling the movie. And given the plot, the not-exactly-box-office-dynamite appeal of the stars, and the direction courtesy of Sorority Boys and Employee of the Month scribe Greg Coolidge, it looks like MTV films are really banking on that title being enough of a draw. Thus giving birth to (or at least cementing) a new phenomenon in crass, commercial filmmaking: The High-Concept Title.

Now, the idea of the High Concept Film is one that’s been around for a few decades now. In case you’re not familiar with the term, the High Concept Film essentially means the exact opposite of what it should mean, unless you’re using the term “high” with the non-traditional meaning–basically, it refers to a movie whose entirety could be summed up in one sentence. Famous examples include Speed (“bomb on bus”), Home Alone (“kid defends house from burglars”) and Phone Booth (“Moralistic sniper pins asshole to titular location”), among many others. The plot, characters, themes and direction are all as simple and basic as humanly possible, all in servitude of the greater good of the High Concept.

Though the term wasn’t invented until the 70s, the idea of the high-concept film has been around for about as long as film (King Kong = “ape runs amok in New York,” Bringing Up Baby = “straight guy’s life disrupted by wacky chick,” etc.) But now we’ve got something new–now movies aren’t just being sold on the strength of their one-sentence concept, they’re being sold on the strength of their (one-word!) titles.

The advent of this phenomenon could easily be seen as descending from the great sensation-that-almost was, Snakes on a Plane. SOAP was something of a transition film between the High-Concept Film and the High-Concept Title–the film was easily describable in one sentence, but it marked one of the first times (and the most widely discussed time) that that one-sentence summary was actually used for the film’s title. Even Freddy vs. Jason and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan seemed shrouded in metaphor by comparison.

Now it’s possible (though unlikely) that Coxblocker could have gotten filmed even without that title, but think of it this way–what the hell are the odds that MTV had the film–plot, characters, director and all–in motion, and then, in a moment of unspeakable clarity, decided to name it Coxblocker? Could the film industry ever actually be that serendipitious? I gotta remain skeptical on this one.

So what’s next? Pitch me your high-concept titles here before Hollywood gets to ’em. Save the film industry from itself, one undercooked idea at a time.

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