Janeane Garofalo Sounds Off On Pop

Actress, comedian, and cult figure of sorts Janeane Garofalo was on Last Call with Carson Daly on early Tuesday morning, where she discussed her thoughts on pop music. Garofalo is no fan of what currently is passing for pop music, including , , and on her list, which she tied to the corporate controlled radio and television interests that are “complicit in the dumbing down of the tastes of Americans.” Read on for a transcript.

Carson: We’re back. This is Janeane Garofalo who you might not know is a gigantic fan of pop music. In fact, *NSYNC’s Lance Bass is about to — he’s in Russia right now, training to go to be the first pop star in outer space. I can only imagine the look on your face if, by any act of god, he doesn’t come back and *NSYNC can’t tour. What are you gonna do?

Janeane: I think that would be a wonderful thing, to send a lot those pop bands off world. I think that would be wonderful for an off-world tour.

[ Light laughter ]

Carson: Janeane hates pop music.

Janeane: No, I like pop music. I don’t like what is passing for pop music.

Carson: Okay. Like who don’t you — like *NSYNC, you don’t like.

Janeane: Well, and I don’t even want to say I don’t like, because these are, like, kids and I feel like I’m picking on children. You know what I mean?

[ Laughter ]

Carson: They’re like 32.

Janeane: No, I know. But I feel like they’re so —

Carson: That’s a big misconception. They’re not —

Janeane: I feel like they’re so much younger than me. I’m sure their audience —

Carson: They’re all married, divorced with kids.

Janeane: Their audiences are children, so I don’t want to rain on the parade of a child who loves *NSYNC.

[ Light laughter ] but —

Carson: It’s almost 2:00 in the morning. I promise you —

Janeane: they’re awake.

Carson: No.

Janeane: Well, I just am not — I’m not particularly — that music does not suit my sensibility. It’s not my thing.

Carson: Right, okay.

Janeane: You know, I’m not saying, you know, like, I dislike those people. I would have no way of knowing them, and they seem like wonderful little Mouseketeers years ago.

[ Laughter ]

Carson: Right.

Janeane: You know what I mean? Like, they — you know, you see them on “Junior Star Search” and then Mouseketeers and then they’re on MTV “TRL.” And it’s just lovely. And then I’m sure they’ll be on Broadway with Sebastien Bach eventually.

[ Light laughter ]

Carson: Right. Or at Betty Ford’s.

Janeane: At the Betty Ford clinic.

Carson: It’s a great venue over there.

Janeane: But I just — you know, one thing I wanted to ask you about is —

Carson: Yeah, sure.

Janeane: — One thing I think is a great myth that happened — and a lot of you may be too young for this — but there was a brief window in MTV’s history where they actually were open-minded about their play list and about music. And that was —

Carson: What month was that?

Janeane: That was — right. For about five minutes in 1992. But in, like, around 1990 — the Kurt Cobain era.

Carson: Right, 1991.

Janeane: ’91 through ’94, approximately, MTV kind of had a wider swap, if you will, of the music they put in rotation. It was more like M2, although M2 is the old bait and switch. They tricked me.

Carson: The old bait and switch.

Janeane: I got M2, thinking I was gonna get some alternative music. And I turn it on, there’s Britney. I was like, “what the” —

[ light laughter ] ’cause I just paid money to get — why would pay —

[ laughter ] you know what I mean? Like I would never have gone out of my way for digital cable to see “not yet a woman, a girl girl.”

Carson: In ’91, when —

[ laughter ]

Janeane: and I’m not picking on Britney, it’s just that I would never — you know, had I known M2 was gonna do that to me — I feel I was tricked by M2.

Carson: Right.

Janeane: And I feel that you are —

Carson: You should picket outside M2 for that.

Janeane: I’m 37 years old, and yet, I’m still angry.

[ Laughter ] but the thing is is MTV, anyway, had this freak window in time of a more versatile play list. And then there was this push to consciously move away from that. And around 1995, ’96 —

Carson: Sure.

Janeane: — To narrow the base again and usher in this era of “pop” music — Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, all of this.

Carson: But the Spice Girls really started off that whole thing.

Janeane: Right, Spice Girls. But they never took here. Spice Girls were huge in Europe, but never quite —

Carson: They took here okay.

Janeane: Robbie Williams and Spice Girls never took off here the way I think people —

Carson: Oh, Spice Girls took off pretty good here. Robbie never quite did.

Janeane: But not as —

Carson: But ’91, they still played — that was the grunge era. And the funny thing about that is you think that was the best time in MTV history was their lowest-rated time.

Janeane: Wait, that’s what I — there’s my point exactly. I believe that as a myth. I believe that as a myth perpetuated by corporate interest in music.

Carson: Well, the number’s exist somewhere.

Janeane: Yeah, but have you seen them?

[ Light laughter ] I’m serious. There is idea perpetuated by the wisdom of Viacom, or whoever is the corporation that owns MTV that when they got more versatile with their play list, less people watched.

Carson: Well —

Janeane: I don’t believe it. ‘Cause first of all, kids watch MTV. They just do. Kids just watch MTV. And I think that corporations that promote — the four corporations that own all the radio stations in this country —

Carson: Right.

Janeane: — That make the play list of *NSYNC and Britney and so on and so forth, have invested —

Carson: So much consolidation only so —

Janeane: — interest in having MTV be the mouthpiece for that.

Carson: Sure. Well, it’s big money, Janeane.

Janeane: I know it’s big money. But what I’m saying is they are pretending that kids don’t want to hear other kinds of music. They’re pretending that there’s not a market out there. If you give kids —

Carson: But there is a Virgin Record store. Somebody can just go a, you know, and buy it.

But the thing is is they make you have to really seek alternative music sources. They go on the supposition that everybody loves — I hate to keep picking on Britney ’cause I don’t even know her. I’m just saying, like, I’m using that as a catch-all.

Carson: Right.

Janeane: I don’t know her. She might be a wonderful woman. I don’t know.

Carson: There is a point to be said. And it’s like Chris Rock said, I think at the “VMAs,” he said — somebody was making a joke about the Spice Girls, and he was saying, you know, everybody dogs it and nobody likes it and — maybe feel alternative, but they sold 25 million records.

Janeane: No, yeah, but —

Carson: It’s like crack. Everybody’s doing, nobody’s wants to admit to it.

Janeane: Mm-hmm. Well, everybody —

[ laughter ] see, but nobody’s not admitting the Britney thing. I mean, she’s got — but there’s another myth that the people that say that there’s lower ratings, they’ll say, the people buying backstreet albums were tired of listening to Nirvana. First of all, the average Backstreet patronist is, what, 7?

[ Light laughter ] so you’re gonna tell me that a 7-year-old was tired of Nirvana?

[ Laughter ]

Carson: Right.

Janeane: You know what I mean? They were somehow — had had it with the Seattle sound.

Carson: Right.

[ Laughter ]

Janeane: you know what I mean? And therefore, were looking for the corporate, overproduced, saccharin Backstreet Boys. Do you know what I mean?

Carson: Right.

Janeane: That this 7-year-old’s on a search for —

Carson: You’re angry about all this stuff, aren’t you?

[ Light laughter ]

Janeane: I’m not angry.

Carson: You think about this stuff a lot, don’t you?

Janeane: I am thinking about it in a way, because it’s complicit in the dumbing down of the tastes of Americans.

Carson: But aren’t you really just upset about a way that big business and philosophies work here in the united states that is the beast that we really just can’t beat? We’re all aware of it. And we all understand it.

Janeane: But that’s not true. We’re not all aware of it. We’re not all aware of it.

Carson: Well, I think a lot of us understand that when, you know, Backstreet’s played 85 times, literally, a week or 120 times sometimes, and MTV is shoving stuff down your throat, you kind of get that that might not be exactly what everybody wants, but —

Janeane: I think you’re giving people too much credit. And it’s nice that you do that.

Carson: So be it.

Janeane: I think that you’re giving people too much credit. But are you all aware that there’s like for corporations that own all of the radio stations that make the play lists?

Carson: Yeah, I think people know that.

Janeane: Okay. I don’t think a lot of people do know that. And I —

Carson: We polled everybody before the show tonight. We have the results.

[ Light laughter ]

Janeane: and I think that there’s —

Carson: 84% did know.

Janeane: I think that people should be upset about it.

Carson: Right.

[ Light laughter ]

Janeane: I do. I think that people should be upset about it. It affects — and like the Grammys and the MTV awards and the billboard awards, they have the nerve to say the best of the best.

Carson: You should be upset that your artist is not getting played on it.

Janeane: Yeah, you should be upset.

Carson: You know, if you’re Bryan Adams, you might be getting screwed.

Janeane: But you should also be upset if you are a listener who is not being treated with respect.

Carson: Right.

Janeane: It is disrespectful to cram Backstreet down your ears all day long.

Carson: But, you know, we — yeah.

[ Applause ] that’s why we have CD changers with, like, 100 discs now, ’cause we can just go to that.

Janeane: Yeah, but it would be great if people had that kind of, like, intellectual curiosity to go, “you know what, I feel there’s — tango is out there.”

[ Light laughter ] “i mean, I’m listening to Aguilera. But I have a feeling that” —

[ laughter ] “i have a feeling that there’s the hives and Aimee Mann and the strokes and all of these things. I just know in my tiny brain that they’re out there.”

Carson: Right. Send the pop mail to Janeane.

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