Fine Tuning - Weekly column highlighting music on TV (Aug. 16-22, 2004).
OLYMPIAD: I have to admit this upfront: I'll be spending the majority of my viewing hours over the next two weeks taking in multiple channels of Summer Olympic Games coverage from Athens. Over the first weekend alone I watched (in alphabetical order) basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, equestrian events, field hockey, gymnastics, indoor volleyball, rowing, soccer, swimming, table tennis and weightlifting, as well as the opening ceremonies.
Now, that's where some music came in. Did you hear DJ Tiesto spinning while the athletes entered the stadium under the banners of their respective countries? It was kind of tough, as NBC's Katie Couric and Bob Costas interjected sometimes meaningless tidbits about little known countries and their star athletes. Nonetheless, it was the Tiesto-supplied throbbing bass of his soundtrack soared through the revamped Greek stadium during the parade of nations.
Did you see Bjork? The "dress" she was wearing boasted 30,000 square feet of material, and covered the stadium's entire infield, where upon it was beamed a map of the world. Her unannounced performance of "Oceania" was a highlight in an already pretty heady program, I'm not ashamed to say that it stirred emotions of global pride and the uniting human spirit as I watched.
In case you couldn't tell, I love the Olympics. Summer or winter. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed when the International Olympic Committee moved the games to an alternating two-year cycle, so I don't have to wait four years to see obscure sports in the spotlight, local heroes become superstars and, generally, the spirit of honest competition rise above all.
With the NBC's various networks carrying coverage more or less 24/7, most of my usually music saturated television exposure will be limited to the soundtracks of vignettes featuring Romanian gymnasts, Australian swimmers and American Greco-Roman wrestlers. That's not a bad thing, though. Sometimes it's good to "get out," even if it's just away from your typical viewing habits.
'TRL' - WALK ON: Although MTV usually bows to fashion, the network doesn't seem to be interested in anything Olympic. Therefore, if you've got your afternoons free, or feel like taping or TiVo-ing a couple of musician walk ons, this is the week to do it.
This week's lineup boasts Lil' Flip (Monday), Ryan Cabrerra (Tuesday), Juvenile (Wednesday) and Maroon5 (Thursday). Not bad for a non-Olympic show.
EVERYTHING ELSE: In all honesty, it doesn't seem like many of other networks are really trying too hard to sway viewers from watching the Olympics on NBC and its sister networks. Nonetheless, if you're aching for something outside of the world of international sport, here are some highlights from a lightly scheduled week:
• Monday: Tony Bennett, a man who knows a lot about performing in Vegas, is a guest on the Fox reality series "The Casino."
• Tuesday: Lostprophets pay a visit to Fuse's "Daily Download."
• Wednesday: It's a big year for political thought, and "VH1 News Presents: Soundtrack To War" will look at the power of music in wartime. And its music by the likes of Mystikal, OutKast and Drowning Pool that get some soldiers riled and ready to face action on the front lines.
• Thursday: If you're like me, there's a mountaineering old folkie in you somewhere and PBS' "Soundstage" will scratch that itch with Joan Baez, Gillian Welch and Nickel Creek.
• Friday: Nelly's back and he's sporting two new albums -- "Sweat" and "Suit" -- and he'll be working it out live on ABC's "Good Morning America."
• Saturday: Live performances by New Found Glory and Sahara Hotnights will provide the soundtrack to "Midnight Spike's House Brew" on Spike TV.
• Sunday: Go deep with former D Generation member turned singer/songwriter Jesse Malin on MTV2's "Subterranean."