Peter Gabriel’s road to Oscar

Posted by · 10:54 am · August 12th, 2008

Peter GabrielI just spent a pleasant four minutes watching Peter Gabriel’s ground-breaking “Sledgehammer” video from 1985, which Patrick Goldstein smartly linked to recently at The Big Picture.

It’s one of those things…I haven’t watched “Sledgehammer” since the early 90s, when MTV still had a fingertip’s grasp on relevance.  Those weekend music video countdowns were the stuff of legend when I was a kid.  Two days counting down the top 100 videos of all time?  Forget about it, I parked it in front of the tube for the duration.

“Take on Me,” “Thriller,” “Vogue,” “Losing my Religion,” “Need You Tonight,” “You Might Think,” “Money For Nothing” and perhaps the last truly great music video of an era that crashed and burned with Hype Williams and the like, “Virtual Insanity.”  “Sledgehammer” held court in the greatest of company, always in the top five or six.

Goldstein is responding to a recent Fred Goodman story in the New York Times regarding Gabriel’s innovative thinking, not only in the creative sector, but in the business sector.  Consider Goodman’s lede:

When Charles Grimsdale, a British investor, started the Internet music venture OD2 in 1999, he had a hard time persuading large record companies to license their music. But when he approached the rock musician Peter Gabriel about putting his music catalog online, he got a very different response: Mr. Gabriel was not only willing, he also wanted to take a stake in the company.

And here’s Goldstein:

At 58, Gabriel is a graybeard by pop music standards, but he’s been incredibly far-sighted in his ability to anticipate huge changes brought about by new technology. In 1999, when record companies were still trying to protect their lucrative CD business by preventing fans from downloading music on the Internet, a British investor couldn’t persuade any record labels to license their music catalogs to his new Internet venture, called OD2. When he contacted Gabriel, the artist not only offered up his catalog of songs but promptly invested in the company itself, which later sold for $40 million.

Gabriel is at the forefront of Oscar talk this year for his work on Pixar’s “WALL-E.”  Specifically, his closing credits tune “Down to Earth” could be in the derby for Best Original Song.

However, the Academy has shown a tendency of shying away from tracks relegated to a film’s credit roll, opting instead for songs that work organically with their respective films, paying close attention to how they are utilyzed, not simply the merit of the tunes themselves.

Then again, an argument could be made that the closing credits sequence of “WALL-E” carries a narrative weight that is imperative to the story.  (You can give it a listen over the “WALL-E” trailer here.)

In any case, I wonder if the industry goodwill reflected in Goldstein and Goodman’s pieces could go a long way for Gabriel during the season.  His is a vigorous creative spirit that deserves whatever accolades might be bestowed.

Soon enough we’ll get the Best Original Song chart up and rolling.  Still waiting on contenders to show themselves.




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3 responses so far

  • 1 1-12-2009 at 1:08 am

    EVE said...

    [quote]However, the Academy has shown a tendency of shying away from tracks relegated to a film’s credit roll, opting instead for songs that work organically with their respective films…[/quote]

    I wonder, why then, did ‘I Need To Wake Up’ from An Inconvenient Truth win over ‘Our Town’ from Cars? ‘Our Town’ was clearly the one that was a major part of telling the story of the film.