Fine Tuning - Weekly column highlighting music on TV (Dec. 6-12, 2004).
THE BEST OF THE BEST: You may see this as self-serving promotion, but I see it as simple facts. Billboard's charts are based on Nielsen SoundScan data of actual sales and airplay monitored by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, therefore, the Billboard Music Awards are the most scientifically accurate, irrefutable crowning of the most popular songs, albums and artists of the year. So there.
That said, tune into Fox on Wednesday night for the 2004 Billboard Music Awards, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. You'll find out exactly who are the top artists, albums and songs of the year, and probably find yourself quite entertained to boot.
Usher and Alicia Keys lead all of the finalists with 13 and 12 mentions, respectively. Usher will be on hand to perform during the affair, as will Gwen Stefani, Nelly, Green Day, Evanescence, Keith Urban and Sheryl Crow.
"American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest will host the whole shindig and the likes of Britney Spears, OutKast's Big Boi, Kanye West, Maroon5, Hoobastank, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, Petey Pablo, Three Days Grace, Ciara, Earth, Wind & Fire and Gloria Estefan will be making appearances.
Sounds glitzy, no? Yes... Yes it is. So plan to tune in, and visit Billboard.com often for reports in the days leading up to the show and backstage stuff from the event itself and its aftermath.
ICONIC ROCK AND THOSE WHO MADE IT: Everyone knows their names, I mean, they're rock icons, for Pete's sake! Now's your chance to learn more about those who have made some of the most enduring music during the Biography Channel's "Rock Icon's Week."
On Monday, meet Eric Clapton and experience the highs of superstardom to the lows of personal tragedy, while Tuesday puts the indulgent and decadent juggernaut that was Led Zeppelin on display. On Wednesday, fans can learn more about Neil Young, one of the most intriguing songwriters and artists that America has ever produced, while Friday introduces the Who's Pete Townsend, as enigmatic an artist as there has ever been. It's bound to be an enlightening series of classes in rock education.
AH, CHRISTMAS CHEER... The Scrooge in me is slowly fading away as the holiday nears, and I'm even more excepting of the bevy of Christmas programming littering the airwaves this week. While I cannot vouch for their integrity or even their quality, these are, nonetheless, some of the selections at hand:
"A Clay Aiken Christmas," Wednesday on NBC. Yolanda Adams and Barry Manilow will make guest appearances with the former "American Idol" contestant, as will "Will & Grace" star Megan Mullally.
"A&E's Live by Request: Vanessa Williams," Friday on A&E. Vanessa Williams will perform holiday favorites and more from the Bergen Performing Arts center in Englewood, N.J., and taking requests to boot.
"MWL Stacked: Ho Ho Ho," Saturday on CMT. Promising "holiday videos full of country charm," this seasonal version of the show will include appropriate selections form SHeDAISY, Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Toby Keith, Faith Hill, Cledus T. Judd and Alan Jackson.
"The Wiggles - Santa's Rocking," Sunday on the Disney Channel. John Fogerty and Barry Williams ("The Brady Bunch") will be on hand to wiggle with the Wiggles in a holiday way.
Also... The Barenaked Ladies will be dishing out holiday cheer Tuesday on the syndicated "Live With Regis & Kelly," Aiken doing the same Thursday on ABC's "The View."
WHAT ELSE? Because you've held back the naughty in favor of being nice, here are some treats for each day of this week:
Monday: Ludacris performs on MTV's "Total Request Live."
Tuesday: Luna is the greatest band you don't know well enough, and they'll be performing on CNBC's "McEnroe."
Wednesday: "The 2004 Billboard Music Awards" is all you need to know. See above if you really need to know more.
Thursday: "John Mayer Has a TV Show" on VH1. 'Nuff said.
Friday: U2 recently tied up New York traffic then put on a free show at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and you can see how it all went down on "mtvJAMMED" ... Then tune into "CMT Crossroads" for the appropriate pairing of good ol' boys Lynyrd Skynyrd and Montgomery Gentry.
Saturday: See what all the fuss is about and get a new 'do in the process as the Scissor Sisters chop it up on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."
Sunday: Taped last week in Los Angeles, "Comedy Central's Last Laugh '04" promises to be the absolute best look back at the year, bar none. Modest Mouse, Snoop Dogg and Pharrell were on hand to perform as the likes of Norm Macdonald, Greg Giraldo, Bill Engvall, Kathy Griffin, DL Hughley, Colin Quinn, William Shatner and Andy Dick dish on the year that was.