import_contacts Rocktropolis

reviewed by Kimberly Villalba Wright

Published in Issue No. 20 ~ January, 1999

Rocktropolis is a large popular music advertisement trying desperately to pose as a honest celebration of music. Even though it makes an effort at music journalism, at heart it’s a glossy, seductive vehicle pushing the wares being sold by Music Boulevard. It’s teasing and clever, offering the prospective music consumer samples of music and the market to buy it. For the shopaholic, it’s a dangerous zine. I’m not saying it’s wrong to sell over the Internet. From a marketing perspective, it’s clever to extol the virtues of a product you’re trying to sell. That’s advertising. But this site is advertising dressed up in zine clothing.

Rocktropolis constantly tells its readers to “Buy, buy, buy!” The Features area provides the readers with a shallow overview of a list of artists whose CDs are easily purchased with just the click of the mouse. How convenient. Rocktropolis also reviews newly released tracks, which (surprise) are for sale at Music Boulevard and easily accessible.

That doesn’t mean the zine doesn’t have anything of interest. It features cybercast events such as Rock and the Environment, with Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and the Tragically Hip. Their news section contains a hodge-podge of information and gossip on rockers. It was here that I learned that Eve 6’s bus burned down in Birmingham. (I don’t know if I could’ve lived another day without knowing that.)

The best part of Rocktropolis is the artist interview, including a Real Video clip of the featured artist. The featured artist the week I reviewed was the lead singer of Cake, an eclectic band that now sports cowboy hats. Even a bad interview with Cake is bound to be amusing, and this was an informative interview, with well-thought out questions by the interviewer.

A word of warning – the chat area teems with phlegmatic, infantile rantings. For example: “if only you new how to spell, you fucking illitterate fagget.” TouchĂ©. Even though Exclaimites could sometimes get contentious, there was also humor and intelligence.

Ultimately, Rocktropolis is a reflection of our shallow, consumerist culture. It gives the reader eye and ear candy to make them more likely to buy music, but lacks much value beyond that.

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Kimberly Villalba Wright was born in Hollywood, Florida, and has spent most of her life in Mobile, Alabama. She earned a BA in English at the University of South Alabama in 1997. Her poetry has appeared in the Epiphany, Arrowsmith, Doggerel, Dicat Libre, El Locofoco, as well as Poetry Café. This fall, Wright will begin working toward an MFA in creative Writing at the University of Memphis. Wright currently resides in Kennett, Missouri.