Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Required Viewing for Aspiring Musicians, Managers, and Agents (TV Review: There and Back: Ashley Parker Angel)

There and Back: Ashley Parker Angel should be Required Viewing for anyone who wants to be in the music industry. Even if this thing was 100% scripted, it would still be a pretty accurate portrayal of what happens to an artist after the success, money, and lifestyle go away.

It wasn't that many years ago that Ashley Parker Angel was a member of the boy band O-Town and had a hit single. All that's gone now--former O-Town bandmate Jacob works construction--and the series chronicles what life is like for a musician post-success. Ashley seems like a nice guy (maybe at times a little too nice for his own good) who signed a bad deal that screwed him out of his recording advance, and I can't help feeling for him. The fact that he's clearly a more talented singer and songwriter than O-Town allowed him to show makes me like him even more (so reserve your boy-band perceptions 'til after you've seen the show).

Watching the scene with the meeting with the producers who (allegedly!) screwed him over made my blood boil, because just by looking at them, it was fairly obvious where his advance probably went. (Allegedly!) Hearing them spew their manipulative BS about not wanting lawyers to get in the way of the music had me yelling, "Don't fall for it Ashley!" at the TV. If the scene was real (MTV got a lot of flack last year for allegedly scripting its "reality" moments on other shows) the presence of MTV cameras and manager Larry Rudolph certainly got him out of the situation. And if it was scripted, it was very well done; I've heard those words hundreds of times myself from artists who were ripped off and told the same thing.

Meanwhile, there's life on the home front. On the show Ashley's pregnant girlfriend is about to pop with their first child, the hormones are getting to her, they live with her mom because Ashley can't afford a home of their own, and the resulting pressure of it all is getting to Ash. Meanwhile, he's trying to write an album that financially and career wise, he knows really needs to be a hit.

If you watch the show and think Ashley Parker Angel has it bad on the show--and he does--consider this: at least he has a top level manager, a deal with MTV, and people are taking meetings with him. Most artists in his situation don't, so using the show as a tool to learn where things went wrong businesswise to prevent it from happening to you or your clients is key, along with the knowledge that there's probably not going to be an MTV deal to help out. Kudos to Ashley for his bravery in being an object business lesson for fellow musicians.

Score: ****1/2 out of 5 stars.

Edited 1:28PM January 24 b/c my Grammar check program truly sucks.

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed