By Todd Inoue
AS THE season of rampant consumerism descends, it gets trickier and trickier to pick out music-related gifts. Though it's hard to go wrong with Norah Jones or Andrea Bocelli for the aunties and uncles, here are some sure-shot pleasers for the sticky wickets on your gift list.
Stuck in the '80s
Symptoms: Still pegs jeans, feathers hair, plays Pac-Man on PS2, watches old commercials online.
Prescription: DudeLive Aid on DVD. Four-platter set with the entire July 13, 1985, concert benefiting famine relief in Africa, a documentary on relief mullets (er, relief efforts), BBC news reports, both "Do They Know It's Christmas" and "We Are the World" videos, bonus footage and more business in the front/party in the back haircuts than a NASCAR convention. There are some really great performances (U2, Queen, Boomtown Rats, David Bowie), some weird combos (Hall & Oates with Eddie Kendricks, Thompson Twins and Nile Rogers) and lots of "where are they now" moments (Paul Young! Alison Moyet! Nik Kershaw, Simple Minds!). And all proceeds still benefit Band Aid organizations.
Symptoms: Downloads obscure Danish experimental bands but hums along to Mix 106.5, poops out after 11:30pm, always complaining that bands today "suck."
Prescription: The Nirvana box set With the Lights Out is probably too much of a good thing. It's a three-CD/one-DVD composed of 81 album tracks, rarities and demos. Pair it up with the Daily Show's America: The Book or The Vice Do's and Don'ts collection and the About a Boy man in your life has a Sunday afternoon set (if he isn't indexing his 7-inch single collection).
Symptom: Moping around in post-election haze.
Prescription: If one good thing came out of the recent election, it's that the administration's talent for inspiring comedic commentary will continue for another four years. Al Franken's show on Air America produces more foul tips than home runs, which makes his CD The O'Franken Factor Factor, composed of the better bits, good to drive to and easy to fast-forward. Better to get David Cross' It's Not Funny, which is an hour of Cross going off on the war, foreign policy, The Simple Life and a hidden track about meeting Scott Stapp at a poker tournament.
Symptoms: Gets a little too excited about finding Richard Simmons' "Sweatin' to the Oldies" tank top at the thrift store.
The Prescription: There are a few CDs that are certain to cause all kinds of derisive chaos. William Hung's Christmas record Hung for the Holidays is one of them. The American Idol reject slaughters the classics, and the recipient can pretend he likes it. To further test the commitment of the person always flashing devil horns at inopportune times, get the fool the Bon Jovi box set 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong. This five-CD set, filled with unreleased tracks, will deck the halls with flouncy hair metal.
Symptoms: Nodding in headphones, beatboxing at dinner table.
Prescription: Forget the new Eminem record, they've already burned a copy from their friends. Don't even try to pick out music, period. It's a lost cause. And forget all those rapper's clothing labels. The real gully cats wouldn't be caught dead wearing Roc-a-Wear, Sean John or Snoop Dogg clothing. The tightest fits come from small label designs like Upper Playground, Money Studies, 2K, Gravis, LRG, Mixwell. Save yourself a trip to the mall and peep the selection at turntablelab.com and upperplayground.com and then check their chin on Christmas morning.
Symptom: Sends not-safe-for-work links during office hours.
Prescription: The Team America soundtrack should be automatic. From "America, Fuck Yeah!" to "I'm So Ronely," Trey Parker and Matt Stone are closet Sondheims for the ADD generation. This stocking stuffer is sure to score major cool points. Second to that, Dave Attell's CD Skanks for the Memories scrapes the bottom of the latrine for laughs and is so worth it.
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