VH-1’s Rock Honors: A Running Diary


May was supposed to be “Heavy Metal Month” on VH-1, and it started out with a surprisingly solid top 40 metal songs countdown. It’s always encouraging when VH-1 decides to go back to actual music-related content rather than being the smarmy D-list comedian network, but somewhere along the line they chumped out and turned what I’m guessing was supposed to be the metal version of their pretty-good Hip-Hop Honors show into the much vaguer and more amorphous Rock Honors, “rock” apparently meaning stadium hard-rock made between the mid-70s and early-80s. I would’ve much rather seen a Metal Honors show, and this one turned out pretty bad, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use it as an excuse to hit y’all in the head with another running diary.

9:00: Did this start early or something? Penn Jillette is already out in a priest’s robe yelling about stuff. I can’t stand that guy. Seriously, I made it through like twenty minutes of The Aristocrats, and that was more than enough.

9:01: The Foo Fighters are looking more and more like casual-Friday bank managers as they get older. They’re covering Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down,” and either the sound isn’t quite synced up right or Dave Grohl is totally lip-syncing. Brian May runs out to play the solo, which goes on a lot longer than I remember. He has crazy hair.

9:06: Jaime Pressly is he host. I don’t really know who that is. She wants to know if we’re ready to rock. She’s talking like she’s advertising a Time Life box set or some shit.

9:08: A Queen video package splices new interview footage of May and the drummer with old footage of Freddie Mercury, and it comes off vaguely ghoulish even if I guess it is an old Behind the Music technique.

9:12: Queen plays “Show Must Go On” with the guy from Bad Company singing. (Bridget: “Is that Chuck Norris?”) Now that I’m thinking about it, I doubt the VH-1 people could’ve come up with four bitchier, more theatrical bands to salute, and I respect that. Judging by those weird-ass sweatpants Paul Rodgers is wearing, so does he.

9:23: Jack Bauer is there! Is there a bomb? No? No bomb? What the fuck?

9:24: Oof, I really hate Gina Gershon. Prey for Rock ‘N’ Roll is like my least favorite movie ever. They only let her say like three sentences, thank God.

9:25: Since when do they need three drummers to do the beat to “We Will Rock You”? The best part is when they zoom in on some girl in the crowd who’s singing along despite clearly not knowing the words. The second-best part is when Paul Rodgers ad-libs, “You can’t stop the rock!” No, you can’t! Paul Rodgers is a really good singer.

9:37: Jaime Pressly is now dressed like Angus Young. She is really getting on my nerves, but I guess she’s still better than Vivica Fox hosting those first Hip-Hop Honors.

9:39: The Judas Priest video package is just crazy awesome. Rob Halford looked really weird with long hair. There’s unfortunately nothing about backwards-masking or Congressional inquiries or Halford coming out of the closet or the band hiring a tribute-band singer to replace him.

9:43: Godsmack plays a couple of Priest songs, which goes about how you’d imagine. At least the singer guy is forced to stop grunting and mumbling when he has to imitate the Halford scream. I can’t believe Godsmack still sells records.

9:46: The Godsmack guys have really, really thick Boston accents; it’s like Good Will Hunting up in this.

9:52: Someone announces Jim Breuer as the funniest man in metal. If that’s true, metal is not very funny. But we all know that metal is funny, so something is deeply fucked up here.

9:54: Priest plays “Breaking the Law,” and they just absolutely wreck it. Then Halford comes out on a motorcycle and they do “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.” I need to see this band live.

10:06: Jaime Pressly goes off on some riff about how awesome groupies are as an awkward and roundabout way to introduce Def Leppard. Huh?

10:07: Joe Elliott starts out the Leppard video package saying that Kurt Cobain started Nirvana because he was sick of Leppard-type music. Snap!

10:12: The All-American Rejects fare better than any of the other younger bands VH-1 brought out to cover the older bands’ songs because they don’t even try to put their stamp on the song and because they have a singer who can hit high notes.

10:22: Instead of playing anything from Hysteria, which is totally what they should’ve done, Leppard plays “Rock of Ages” and then brings out Brian May to cover T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy.” If you have great songs of your own (“Pour Some Sugar on Me,” duh), you don’t need to pay tribute to shit. People forget that sometimes.

10:35: Brian Posehn is there. Did he know they were going to call Jim Breuer the funniest man in heavy metal? What an indignity.

10:37: Kiss video package. Kiss blows.

10:40: Tommy Lee, Scott Ian, Slash, Gilby Clarke, and Rob Zombie come out to play some Kiss bullshit. Aren’t most of these guys already in different supergroups? So does that make this a super-supergroup? They bring out sans-makeup Ace Frehley, who should maybe consider putting makeup on immediately. Scott Ian has Gene Simmons’ battleaxe-bass, which looks a lot cooler in the hands of a relatively regular-looking guy rather than a kabuki-makeup glitter-alien.

10:47: Matt Pinfield is somehow involved in all this. Of course he is.

10:53: Introducing Kiss: the girl from Species? Good Lord, all this star power is blinding me.

10:54: I’ve seen Kiss do its retro makeup-and-pyro act on like ten different televised events now, and that’s probably more times than they ever appeared on TV when they were wearing makeup for the first time. In fact, hasn’t this second makeup run gone on longer than the first one at this point? At what point does the Kiss revival itself become fodder for nostalgia?