$1,000 Records, the Battle for ‘TRL,’ and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today we’ve got an interview with the winner of the most recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race (which, yes, will spoil who won the most recent season of Drag Race), a look at why audiophiles are buying $1,000 records, remembering the nü-metal takeover of TRL, and a profile of comedian Billy Eichner.

First is a look at the very pricy records of Tom Port, who owns Better Records, a store where LPs are sold for hundreds of dollars, and the rarest of them top out at around $1,000. The price for the records might be difficult for even the most apologetic audiophiles to justify, as the value is based on things such as the chain of ownership, the machinery used to produce the machine, and the quality of the actual vinyl that record was made of. This is all very important, but does it demand hundreds of dollars?

Selling these artifacts at these prices requires more than a list of customers with too much disposable income. It takes hard work, chutzpa and catalog copy that ignites neural brush fires in the amygdala. Consider these tasting notes for the Rolling Stones’Emotional Rescue ($230): “A killer pressing … serious punch down low, superb clarity, all the extension up top and a HUGE open sound field … you’ll have a hard time finding any Stones record that sounds this good period!” Confirmation bias? Probably. Port had me at “killer pressing.”

Next, we have an interview with Bob the Drag Queen, who won the most recent iteration of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The continued success of the show might be head-scratching to those who haven’t been paying attention, but for those of us in the know, it’s great because of contestants like Bob, who have more heart than most Bachelor contestants combined.

I am quite humbled by this process. But I don’t understand this whole concept of you having to act like you don’t deserve things to deserve things. You can also be proud of yourself and be humble. I don’t know where this concept came from where you have to act like you don’t deserve nice things. It’s odd to me and it’s something that I never subscribed to. I feel like you have to believe in yourself and treat yourself like a winner. If you’re not going to treat yourself like a winner, how do you expect anyone else to? If you act like you don’t deserve nice things, they’re going to treat you like you don’t deserve nice things. You know what I mean?

Billy Eichner’s rise might appear meteoric to those who’ve only caught on to his firebrand comedy in the past few years, when his show Billy on the Street went to cable and began producing viral-ready clips. Success didn’t come so quickly, though, and as this New Yorker story points out, he began modestly on a kind of talk show with Robin Lord Taylor, who is now on Gotham. That was way back in 2003, and it wasn’t until 2010 that on the Street was born.

In 2012, for “Conan,” Eichner flew to Indianapolis with a camera crew and watched Madonna perform during halftime at the Super Bowl. After the game, Eichner ran onto the field as football players were hugging and weeping under a blizzard of colored confetti. “Vogue, motherfuckers!” he yelled. “Did you guys see Madonna?” Eichner had broken through. “It just kind of snowballed from there,” he told me. Now publicists pitch the show to feature their celebrity clients. Some stars seem confused by “Billy on the Street.” The rapper Nas was annoyed when he won an empty birdcage after a round of “Media Mogul or Rabbi?” “You can’t be fuckin’ serious,” Nas says in the clip. “I’m out here in the streets answering these questions and this is my prize? I gotta go, man. This is wrong. There’s no fuckin’ bird!” (The segment aired, but Nas asked Fuse not to put it online. Although the network relented, rogue clips have appeared on YouTube.)

Total Request Live, better known as TRL, was a signpost for many young music fans — or even young people who aren’t music fans. Hosted by Carson Daly, it was home to the boy band wars and Britney spears, as well as Korn and Limp Bizkit and Destiny’s Child. Dave Holmes was a VJ during the time of TRL‘s heyday, and at Stereogum he chronicles the battle between nü-metal and pop music.

As clean, factory-fresh pop music began to fill up the new generation’s American Bandstand, the young girls swooned. And as usually happens when young girls get into something — pierced ears, My Little Pony, bisexuality — young boys muscle their way in and try to find a way to ruin it. For those boys, there was nü-metal. Nü-metal has origins that are a little harder to explain. As The Real World begat Survivor after nearly a decade, the seeds of the nü-metal movement were sown by the 1993 Judgment Nightsoundtrack, which paired rock bands and rappers in a way that, at least back then, seemed revolutionary. (Of course, Anthrax did it better and a year before, but Helmet and House Of Pain get the credit.) And then, five years later, an unholy mix of sloppy white-boy rapping (a thing for which Vanilla Ice prepared us back in 1990) and a sludgy form of hard rock (exemplified by Days Of The New and Godsmack) crept up on us like a hit of ditch-weed. Nü-metal involved the baggiest of jeans, the nanny-goatiest of facial hair, and usually a DJ off to the side of the stage for no discernible reason.