Thursday, February 23, 2012

Proof from 2009 that Bill Simmons is very proud of Bill Simmons

If Grantland were a classic rock radio station, this would be a Bill Simmons *absurd radio promo announcer voice*


It's an old Simmons brainshit, unearthed and republished last week because the world needs to re-see this man's brilliance. Or something. Actually, there's not a single fucking reason in the world why it should have been republished. The desperate attempt to paint the completely obvious as brilliantly analytical, as well as the unbridled navel-gazing, begins... meow.

The following originally ran July 17, 2009, as part of a Friday mailbag.

Ah, that one. One of my favorites. Unfortunately Jack M didn't cover this particular question, probably because he realized that addressing it would be even more of a waste of time than writing posts for an unread anti-sports media blog usually is.

Q: Thought of this after Michael Jackson's death:

Too bad? Who didn't see that one coming? Was foul play involved? Do I have to go to work tomorrow? Some kind of pedophile joke?

Which famous singer would have dominated American Idol the most had he/she started his/her career as a contestant on the show?

Oh OF COURSE. "Hey Bill, thought of this when I heard about that prison fire in Honduras last week- how would Dustin Pedroia fare on The Bachelor?"

I thought MJ around the "Off the Wall" era, but then realized he would not have been eligible because of his Jackson 5 fame. So who? Please don't tell me John Mayer, circa 2005.

-- Cliff, Portland, Ore.

There are idiotic questions written by pandering Simmons fanboy assholes, then there are extremely idiotic questions written by pandering Simmons fanboy cuntrag cockwads, then there's that kid who wrote in to tell Bill how he and his friends shout at strangers all the time to act like Kevin Garnett, THEN there's the guy who wrote in to tell Bill about the imaginary friend his friends "brought" on their Vegas trip, and THEN there's this question from Cliff in Portland.

SG: Come on, Cliff, 2005 Mayer would have rolled through that show every week, caused a national riot and had Paula whipping her ovaries at him. Anyone non-threatening with undeniable talent who can play guitar, play the piano or belt out tunes is going to succeed on Idol.

I don't watch the show, but I imagine dozens of contestants who fit that description have failed over the years.

Young Alicia Keys would have crushed Idol. Same for the dude from Maroon 5.

Grrrrrr what a punchable face he has.

Norah Jones would have done well. You get the idea.

Let me name some talented, famous musicians and then tell you about how well they'd do on a show that judges musicians by their talent.

But there is one answer for your question and only one: Whitney Houston.

She's like Michael Jackson in this respect: All the craziness with her personal life these past 12-15 years ended up overshadowing the eight to 10 years before it.

What? No way. What a controversial and unorthodox stance to take re: one of the most famous career-overshadowy train wrecks of the past 25 years.

Young Whitney was like LeBron crossed with Tiger.

Crossed with Malcolm Gladwell, attached to Chuck Klosterman's ass.

Actually, you can't even compare her to anything. Let's say you rated a young female singer from 1 to 50 in five categories: likability, attractiveness, singing voice, pedigree and stage presence. Young Whitney was a 50 in all of them. Has anyone else ever cracked 45?

Quick, ponder the rhetorical question based on a nonsensical set of criteria I just invented! Now think about how smart I am for having pointed out that Whitney Houston was attractive and talented. (Smugly nodding.) (Smelling own fart and smugly nodding while flaring my nostrils.)

One of the many fascinating subplots of the mid-80s:

Decades don't have plots or subplots. No matter how spectacularly you failed in your quest to become a Hollywood writer, you can't make up for it by pretending that everything in the world is part of a narrative.

you had a male singer (Jackson), a female singer (Whitney), a boxer (Mike Tyson), a baseball pitcher (Dwight Gooden) and an actor/comedian (Eddie Murphy) who peaked at precociously young ages, convinced us they were headed toward becoming the "greatest (fill in the genre) of all time" … only none of them made it. Not one.

Fucking puh-leeze. Shit happens all the time. Let's try the late 90s since I'm pretty familiar with them there days. R. Kelly, the Spice Girls (yes I went there), I'm subbing in Terrell Davis for a boxer because fuck it who's going to stop me, Kerry Wood, Chris Farley. Fine. Laugh all you want, I put the Spice Girls on there and didn't have a boxer. The point is, much as he is convinced that he is at the center of the universe, unexploited talent is not something unique to Bill's prep school days.

I would argue Whitney barely edges out Gooden as the biggest tragedy of the five.

No one worth listening to would disagree, because comparing a vocalist to a pitcher is fucking stupid.

Eddie had a phenomenal nine-year run of SNL episodes, movies and comedy specials before his movie career went Barry Zito on us.

He's like Ryan Reynolds! Not a real movie star!

Tyson had a number of memorable fights and made such an impact that I have been pushing for ESPN to have "Tyson Week" (like Shark Week) for this entire decade. Jackson had all the Jackson 5 stuff, "Off the Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad" before things started getting weird. But Whitney should have been the black Streisand:


an iconic singer/actress who aged with her audience, lasted for decades and was mentioned in the first breath any time someone asked, "Who were the biggest female performers ever?"

There are much better ways to express that than "Black Streisand."

Instead, it was over for her in eight years. Incredible.

Let's take a quick break and make sure everyone is soaking this up. Not just the content of Bill's answer, but also the fact that Grantland dug it up and got it linked on the front page of last week. Bask in the amazingnessity, readers of the guy who knows his readers... this man, in the year 2009, was prepared to tell us that Whitney Houston squandered her talent and never became what she could have.


(Picking lint from my belly button.)

Anyway, let's say 1985 Whitney shows up for Idol tryouts next January. Only 21 years old, she comes out for her audition, smiles at the judges and belts out "Saving All My Love" like she does in this Letterman clip. Can you imagine the reaction? Wouldn't the judges have been a stammering puddle like Letterman was after that? I say '85 Whitney pulls away from the field like Secretariat in the Belmont, trounces '05 John Mayer, crushes Alicia Keys, obliterates the Maroon 5 guy. … Nobody touches her. Not for a second.

Finally! The argument as to whether or not a talented attractive singer could succeed on a show geared towards talented attractives singers is settled! You're welcome, America. If you need Bill, he'll be in his trailer, settling this whole federal budget mess.

One last Whitney story because I think it explains the "you had to be there" aspect of Whitney's brief apex.

Please let this be about his own experience listening to Houston. Please please please. This guy is convinced that the world turns because he walks on it. No way can he pass up the opportunity to tell us what his Whitney Houston listening experience was like. C'monnnnnnn

My father took me


to visit Tufts University right around the time her first album came out.

Now tell us about a Celtics game he took you to!

Dad was looking for parking

(Riveted to this scandalous tale.)

and "Saving All My Love" had just come on the radio. About halfway through the song, he found a spot and I thought we were getting out of the car.

(Eating popcorn.)

He told me to hold on until the end of the song. When I made fun of him, he explained simply, "Whitney really belts it out in this one."

Move over, Mike Brady! There's a new paragon of fatherly wisdom on the scene.

You have to know my dad.

I feel like I do at this point. He's the guy who, after Boston teams won like twenty titles last decade, wept with relief when the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup because he was worried he'd die without seeing another one after the Cup they won alllllllll the way back in 1972. (Eat your hearts out, Cleveland/Buffalo/Seattle/etc. fans.) I'd like to attack him with a hammer.

He never, EVER says things like this. And you know what? He was right.

Man, I feel like I was right there with you in the car during this boring and probably fabricated conversation.

I didn't even challenge it. I just don't think there's ever been another singer who would have kept two people in their car during a random winter day in New England like that.

"Random" is the new favorite word for boring people with poor vocabularies. Sit in a quiet coffee shop or bar for 15 minutes and you'll probably hear 4 or 5 people use it. And they'll probably be vapid 20somethings, or Bill Simmons. At this point I'd also like to congratulate myself for making it almost all the way through this post without a single "Boston is full of racists so how could you enjoy Whitney Houston" joke.

Just Whitney.

Three years ago this zilcheroo proclaimed that a very famous performer well-known for destroying her career with bad decisions did in fact destroy her career with bad decisions. In a development that surprised exactly no one, decisions of a similar nature killed her last week. And so we get to read about how bad decisions destroyed her life... one more time. This is the journalistic equivalent of printing your own money. It's obscene. Just fucking kill me before this guy gets any more popular and powerful.


jacktotherack said...

The fact Grantland felt the need to pust this again makes me even happier that I neve read that website.

Adam said...

The whole premise of, "Which one of these most talented and famous people in history at X will dominate in an amateur competition?", is totally retarded and pointless to begin with.

Isn't that sort of like saying, "Who would score more points in an 8th grade girls wheelchair basketball game, LeBron or Jordan?"

Alex said...

So. Wondering. When is this site going to change its name to 'Fire Bill Simmons?'

Biggus Rickus said...

What kind of bullshit premise is the notion that people who look, in the moment, like they might the "best ever" at something don't reach this subjectively nebulous plateau? Can it not be argued that Michael Jackson was for a time the best musician ever? The Beatles fell apart after nine years and had mixed solo careers. Ali lost his ability. Koufax had four dominant seasons. And so on. God I hate Bill Simmons, who was never the best at anything.

Alex said...

Technically, it was seven and boy in those years did they change the course of music.

It's funny you mention their solo careers. I was just thinking about that the other day. Individually, it was so-so with arguably McCartney having the most successful run.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts when it comes them I reckon. Whatever creative energy they had individually was already discounted in the music of the entity known as 'The Beatles.'

Love The fucking Beatles. Love them.

Larry B said...

Chris W loves the Beatles more than anyone.

Biggus Rickus said...

I figure creative people only have so much genius in them. In the case of The Beatles, they expended it working together. The internal competition of the band probably also culled less impressive compositions by both Lennon and McCartney and curbed some of their bad tendencies that showed up in their solo careers.

I love The Beatles more than Chris W.

Chris W said...


There is almost no doubt in my mind that is true

Alex said...

I think that's my point in the final paragraph. That being said, of the thousands of albums and CD's I own, 'Revolver' still blows my mind.

This may be an inappropriate comparison but I think the case of The Beatles described here can be seen in great/dynastic sports teams.

I think,as but one small example, of the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s. When it dissolved, its top players went their way with varying degrees of success.

Gretzky had a solid career in L.A. and NY. Messier probably had the best as he seemed to have benefitted from the change. Coffey did well in Pittsburgh but he simply moved on to another mini-dynasty led by thelikes of Lemieux, Francis, Jagr and Murphy.

The rst of the core part of the team, Anderson, Kurri, Lowe and Fuhr went on to okay extensions to their careers.

Like The Beatles, their peak years were when they were with the Oilers. Once past that, timing and circumstances had a say in what they could offer on other teams.

We see this in other sports as well. But it's faulty thinking to believe because, for example, te architect of one dynasty (let's use Glen Sather) can go to an entirely different organization with a different culture (NYR) and duplicate what the Oilers accomplished.

Everything has its time. All things must pass as Harrison sang.

Once empires (political ones too) dissolve, the remaining figures that helped build them get absorbed by other entities hoping to feed off some (and hopefully) all of the success that person is purpoted to be able to possess and impart.

Mental masturbation on my part but I'm tired of reading Jughead all day.