WHO: Joshua Tillman aka “Father John Misty” aka “Fleet Foxes Guy” aka “The Most Self Important Asshole On Earth” (thanks Ryan Adams)
WHAT: Publicity stunt album rollout alert
WHEN: Unfolding right now
WHERE: Music blogs, social media, expanding within your own mind like a DMT nebula
WHY: Album sales, clicks, big-font festival billings, illuminati acceptance
Around mid-day yesterday a number of the top newsfeed-style music sites ran articles that were very obviously cribbed from the same source, only with the wording changed to make said article more “Stereogum-y” or “Pitchfork-esque” depending on its placement. The articles giddily covered a major “slip-up” by whatever people or robots handle these types of things at Apple where the “surprise” new Father John Misty album was “accidentally” offered for streaming briefly a month-and-a-half before it’s June 1st release date. This came only a day after the New Zealand iTunes site “accidentally” leaked the until-then-mysterious record’s full cover art, track list, and release date. What a bumbling (pure) comedy of errors, huh? Or in the words of Stereogum, “it’s already been a mess of a rollout thanks to the good folks at Apple.”
Well, it’s all a scam. Of that there can be no doubt. Fake fuckin’ news of the highest order. An imperial force such as Apple doesn’t just fuck up a major release like this, or any release for that matter, and it certainly wouldn’t happen TWICE IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS. This is NOT a mess of an album rollout. This IS the album rollout. And as a devotee of popular music and culture, it is your duty to see through these carefully orchestrated events right to the core of the cynical hype campaign trying to get its hands on your clicks.
Think about it. Tillman’s last massively anticipated and Zeppelin-level-hyped record, the one that Sub Pop and his management team spent lavish amounts of publicity dollars on, the one with the rollout that seemed to drag on longer than the Vietnam War with dozens (hundreds?) of totally meta interviews, SNL appearances (these aren’t cheap to buy, ladies and gents) during which the singer was allegedly on acid (please), and planted articles attempting (and failing) to stir up outrage (and hence more clicks) about a weak-ass Taylor Swift line, didn’t quite propel Mistah’ Tillman to the superstar level, did it? We’re not a successful enough music site to have access to Soundscan data, but we’d be willing to bet Pure Comedy didn’t do all that much more than I Love Honey Bees or whatever the record was called that came before it, the one with the organic word-of-mouth buzz that propelled The Mist to “one day this dude could headline Coachella” status to begin with.
That’s a whole hell of a lot of wasted dollars for a record that received “polite” reviews, fell off the charts right quick, and hasn’t grown the type of critical legs and obsessive cult fan base that will carry it anywhere near as far as his first two go-rounds. Dude probably made more from his Beyonce’ writing credit alone than the entire Pure Comedy album/tour package. So where do we go now, his People were most likely thinking up until several months ago. We’re not sure if the meeting went down in a boardroom of some kind with a suspended glass table and multiple stainless steel espresso machines or perhaps in the “Art Of War Room” at Misty’s Bel Air crib, but two conclusions were definitely reached by the time they wrapped up their all-nighter:
- This next cycle must appear totally organic
- We can’t spend a lot of money this time
And from these twin concepts the scheme that is currently nagging at you from a thousand different content sources was hatched. Misty goes more-or-less dark on social media. There is no talk of a new record anywhere from his camp or the folk singer himself in interviews. A video is dropped for a new song (of course this song is about himself and even carries his own name in the title) several months ago just to kick up some initial speculation. What is dude up to? Is it MISTY SEASON again? You get a sense that Josh and his team considered, at least for a second, pulling a Bey or Rihanna surprise release but someone, probably not Tillman himself, realized he wasn’t a big enough star for this to have the necessary impact. They needed a way to “accidentally” reveal the track list/cover art/release date as if they were planning to pull a Queen Bey but powers beyond their control messed it up. Then, in carefully timed succession, the Kiwi “mistake” and the “accidental” album stream go down. How much did they have to pay Apple for these two priceless “blunders”? Will Apple potentially be pulling in an even higher percentage of Misty streams this go-around? You best believe they will.
So there you have it. The fakest of fake news courtesy of Team Tillman. For just one payment or contract adjustment with Apple they have successfully built up hype for their record (which, incidentally, is called God’s Favorite Customer, and we’re just putting it here for our own Google search placement purposes) while the Man With the Rumpled But Perfectly Tailored Slacks gets to appear as if he just couldn’t be bothered. Stories have been generated. Clicks have been recorded. Interests have been piqued. There are no interview “opportunities” to purchase and no album rollout mustaches to be groomed. And it won’t stop here. Expect more zany and totally click-worthy blunders to go down between now and June 1st, and then for the foreseeable future until the third or fourth flop record in a row.
After which nobody will care.