T.C. Folkpunk

Okay I admit it. I temporarily lost my mind and submitted an entry to CBC's Hockey Anthem Challenge contest. Not to worry though, I emailed them and had it removed after a few days. The song's entitled "The Age Of Nefarious", although I temporarily renamed it "The Wrath Of Grapes" for the contest, which appealed to fans of Don Cherry while the entry was posted. It was interesting while my participation lasted, and I'd like to make some suggestions to CBC.

First, stop calling it an anthem. It's a theme song. Bit of a difference. Second, get somebody to return that copy of "Happy Gilmour" to Blockbuster, you're ten years overdue on the rental, and the late fees are a waste of tax dollars. Third, change the name of the contest to "Logan Aube's Fifteen Minutes of Fame Sideshow". Logan Aube, if you haven't heard, is a twenty-something sound artist who entered a piece in CBC's contest, which, although cool in an abstract way, probably doesn't have a hope of winning, since it's made up of sound effects such as cats meowing, sheep bleating, babies crying and what may be a volley of machine gun fire. The only thing missing is an element that we in the music biz refer to as a "melody". You may remember melodies. They were those things that you hummed or whistled. Some of us still use them.

Anyway, I have nothing against Logan's entry, and as I say it's kinda cool in an abstract way. You can even dance to it, although that might best be attempted in a manner reminiscent of Shields and Yarnell. Even more interesting though, is the aftermath of Logan's piece being uploaded. Like many others who've entered the contest, Logan told some of his friends to go and vote for his entry. You can rate an entry on a scale of 1 to 5, and not surprisingly all of his friends seem to have voted 5 out of 5 for his ditty. Interestingly, Logan seems to have a few thousand "friends", which must be murder when it comes time to send out Valentines cards every year. He announced his entry on various web forums and in chat rooms, and started a grass roots mobilization of an army of "Loganites".

This is where the contest starts to morph into a fiasco. Not only are the Loganites voting 5 out of 5 for his entry, they're also voting 1 out of 5 for every other entry, and by their sheer numbers making it appear that there's only one song/soundscape even in the running. One can also leave comments on each entry, and the Loganites have risen to that challenge as well, lauding his contribution with (I hope) tongue-in-cheek praise, pontificating on and on about his entry being the greatest thing to ever happen to music. They've also left disparaging comments on the pages of other entries, some even going so far as to accuse the catchier tunes of being bad classic rock and suggesting that the baby boomers know nothing about experimental music. For those particular Loganites I have two words: "Number nine....number nine....number nine...."

So the contest is now out of control, and CBC have only themselves to blame. The previous theme, which was used from 1968 until this year was written by a certain Dolores Claman. Since the song was initially considered to be a jingle rather than a theme song, she was paid a one time fee of $800 for her efforts. Years later she finally began to receive performance royalties for each broadcast, and everything seemed fine until CBC began selling the song as a ringtone and apparently not paying her a royalty for each sale, contrary to normal business practice in the world that exists outside the walls of Our National Treasure. Needless to say, Dolores was unhappy at this development, and commenced legal action against CBC in 2004. The CBC responded this past June by offering to buy the song outright from Ms. Claman for the sum of $850,000. That may sound like a lot of moula, but when one considers the revenue the network could generate from the song, it's conceivable that they could make that money back in less than five years. By the way, the lowest paid players in the NHL make $450,000 per season, and more than 200 players in the league make upwards of a million bucks per season.

Not surprisingly, Dolores turned down CBC's offer, countering with an asking price of $2 million, equivalent to the annual salaries of two mid-level hockey players you probably can't name. The prize for the new theme is all of $100,000, which would appear to be chump change for CBC, and as an added bonus whoever wins will suddenly fall under the category of "self employed artist earning more than $30,000 a year" in the eyes of Revenue Canada. That means the winner (and I use the term loosely) will have to register for a GST number, and spend the rest of their lives submitting quarterly returns to the folks in Ottawa. It's like income tax times ten.

Good luck Logan!

The previous theme now has a new home over at TSN, which is owned by CTV, and the folks at CTV apparently had no qualms about paying whatever price Dolores Claman was asking. Either that or she cut them a deal because she loves Corner Gas. As for CBC, they'll probably continue to muddle through in their unique "Air Canada with video cameras" sort of way, and maybe even pay a team of consultants a quarter million to sort the contest out. Kinda makes your eyes well up with national pride, don't it?