5 Reasons Why Vinyl (HBO) is Awesome

Cover of Vinyl (HBO) Soundtrack uploaded by Joshua B. Hoe
Cover of Vinyl (HBO) Soundtrack uploaded by Joshua B. Hoe

Apparently HBO's Vinyl is an early disappointment (despite the fact that HBO greenlit a second season after one episode had aired).

Don't believe the anti-hype.

Vinyl (HBO) is awesome.

If you are a music fan, or just a fan of good television, you should be watching Vinyl.

I know everyone loves The Walking Dead (even though it is the same plot virtually every season - meet new people, new people worse than zombies, some team members die, move to new place).

But, TWD doesn't really make history walk per se :). Also, most people have "On Demand" and a DVR (NO?). Many even have HBO to Go (NO?).

1. Vinyl (HBO) Is All About The Music

I have read so many recaps that treat the music in vinyl as if it entertaining wallpaper, not as part of the plot.

This is understandable, many people don't necessarily get the music references I suspect.

IMHO, you cannot understand Vinyl without understanding the music references.

A vital part of the plot is how the GHOSTS of music haunt the characters of the show.

Think about the music in Vinyl a bit like Gabriel Byrne's hat in Miller's Crossing (only even more important).

In episode one, I wrote about the ghosts of Ruth Brown, Bo Diddley etc. haunting Richie (Bobby Cannavale).

In episode two, I wrote about the ghost of Jerry Lee Lewis haunting Richie and the ghost of Karen Carpenter haunting Devon (Oliva Wilde)

The history of music is alive in Vinyl, it is not passive textbook stuff it LIVES.

2. Vinyl (HBO) Is A Commentary On Music Today

Richie's epiphany is the same one the created punk in the 70's.

Predictable formatted music, designed as if by algorithm or robot, or designed only as a place for an artist to engage in self-aggrandizement SUCKS.

In episode 2, Richie says that good music (I am paraphrasing):

Is music you want to hear again after it comes on the radio, music that makes you want to "Dance, Fuck, or Kick some one's ass."

Right now, the music industry is favoring consolidation - they are taking a small number of artists per label and ONLY pushing them across every media platform.

Most of the songs are created to meet specifications of algorithms that ensure their popularity, most of the "singers/performers" are more personalities than actual talents, and most of the push is about demographics not soul.

Almost every HIT song today is forgotten tomorrow, just the way the labels want things (so people download the new cast of songs tomorrow).

Nobody can play or sing live, but oh can they all dance.

Vinyl, at its core, is about what made the explosion of Punk + Hip Hop (and even Disco) so monumental in the 70's.

It was about exciting and memorable music that was not predictable or formulaic.

It was about the sneer John Lydon would throw at Ariana Grande and her ilk.

It is about Vince Staples against Chris Brown.

It is about music that people can play live and that moves your emotions. Not about canned nonsense.

It is not always pretty.

That is why Rock and Roll is so great.

And my point is NOT that good music isn't being released now. I don't think the show's point is that good music isn't being released now.

The labels forgot what makes music great then, and the whole industry is forgetting what makes music great now.

Labels want sure things, Rock and Roll is about risk and adventure. There is authentic emotion, danger, and passion.

3. You Are Missing Some Titanic Performances

* Olivia Wilde has been amazing as Devon, in what easily could have been a mailed in role (she is making the typical doomed wife roll into something unmissable IMHO, she made a bunch of awful Warhol scenes kind of awesome).

FYI, Olivia Wilde can act, go back and watch some of the great seasons of "House." She was incredible, one of the best actors on the show.

I fully believe she is going to make this role so interesting that her performance will blow up the stereotype character arc.

* Juno Temple, in limited screen time, has been a revelation. I have found every second she was on screen interesting. She is playing the hustler as TOTALLY hustler. The episode 2 scene where she says "well how am I supposed to get ahead," was just electric.

* Andrew Dice Clay was AMAZING playing a scumbag payola producer in Episode One. I can't believe that I have said that twice now, but it is true.

* And I have really grown to appreciate Ray Romano since "Men Of A Certain Age."

* Ato Essandoh is about to have great room to grow in future episodes, I am hopeful he expands his role as much as Olivia Wilde has hers.

* Bobby Cannavale is playing Rock Don Draper, not easy to make that work, but as usual he has found a spin, in both episodes he has shown a vulnerability not typical of male heroes in these kind of roles.

4. Even the Creaky Parts are Funny

In my episode 2 recap, I was on board saying Scorcese did not do the best job with episode one (later the Boston Globe came to the same conclusion). But, it was still great fun.

Richie's boy band of sycophants is pretty funny and the period outfits are so far over the top, it is a riot to watch them (especially Julie - Max Casella - and Scott - P.J. Byrne).

The whole Dolls show at the Mercer Center was way over the top, but in a "so bad it's kind of good" B movie way.

The birth of the Nasty Bits, has been creaky but fun. I am still torn on why the Pistols had to be shipped to NYC. I suspect it was just to give Mick Jagger's son the role.

I hope they show some of Lydon's intelligence in Kip's performance soon. Lydon was no empty (or addicted) sneer.

5. The History Matters

Whatever else you think, the music this show is covering matters.

This show is located at the intersection of the birthplace for punk and hip-hop (Due respect to Iggy and the Stooges).

People should know who the artists on the show are.

So far, the show has introduced (re-introduced) artists like the New York Dolls, Ruth Brown, Karen Carpenter, Bo Diddley, Kool DJ Herc, Mott The Hoople, The Jimmy Castor Bunch, and The Meters.

All of those artists are amazing, well worth your time and exploration.

So many more to come.

What other show offers you weekly gifts like that?

Watch Vinyl (HBO)!

The Agent Intellect by Protomartyr uploaded by Joshua B. Hoe
The Agent Intellect by Protomartyr uploaded by Joshua B. Hoe

What do you think of Vinyl, who is your favorite character? I would love to hear your opinions, leave comment/s!