The Best & Weirdest PR Email Subject Lines of 2012

Rocks Off gets at least 6,000 emails a week.

Aight, it's more like 30 a day, I guess, more if it's SXSW season or the holidays, or if my co-workers get into a rousing conversation about chicks in our one of nightlife slideshows.

Out of all those emails, we may gleefully respond to a dozen, and delete most after just reading the header. The ones we respond to are mostly about new albums, toys, interview opportunities, or advance screenings.

And yes, a lot of PR folks send us invitations to shows thousands of miles away , or write us and breathlessly tell us about "national tours" with only seven dates -- Chicago, NYC, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Duluth, and Denver -- that we should really write about. It's cool, we get that the PR world is hella crazy.

But some of the subject headings we get stop us in our tracks, and we have to forward them to our fellow journalist friends out of sheer hilarity. Sometimes we end sending each other the same ones.

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5 New Holiday Albums For Your Halloween Horror

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Yeah... sorry to spring this on you first thing in the morning.
Right now, as soon as you can either get to year nearest music retailer or click over to iTunes or Amazon, you can buy the first holiday-themed 2012 album we have heard of, Jason Gray's Christmas Stories: Repeat the Sounding Joy. If that sounds early to you, well, yeah, but we actually got the email announcing the album back in early August, when we were still leaving the refrigerator open at night to give our beleagured window-unit AC a break.

Gray (no relation) is a Minneapolis-based Christian singer-songwriter whose previous album, 2011's A Way to See In the Dark, reached No. 15 on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart and even grazed the magazine's Heatseekers chart as well. So for him, a Christmas album -- one with actual hymns, too -- is both a perfectly logical career move and something he no doubt put a lot of time and care in creating.

That would make Gray the exception. Releasing holiday albums while CVS is still selling Halloween candy is an old tradition within the music business, almost as old as squeezing out totally superfluous product any rational-minded consumer could scarcely believe anyone would actually buy, let alone manufacture. We don't know what else might lie in store, but based on the holiday-record PR we've gotten here so far at Rocks Off HQ, 2012 is already such an appalling year we couldn't help but call on Willie Soke from Bad Santa for a few words of comfort and joy.

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Donald Fagen Turns In Essay/Press Release For New Album

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Photo By Jason Wolter
Rewind: Last Night: Dukes of September Rhythm Revue at The Woodlands

The press release that went out in advance of Donald Fagen's newest solo album, Sunken Condos, is the most exhaustive one I have ever seen in recent memory.

I thought I knew the gist of Fagen's career, from his jazz beginnings, his Steely Dan catalog, and his solo work, but I didn't. I now know more about Fagen than I ever thought I ever would. And it only took 1,652 words.

We here at Rocks Off get hundreds of PR emails a week. Some are boring, some are awesome, some bring ho-hum news, others make us jump out of our seats. Fagen's had me in my seat for some time.

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Morbid Email Subject Heading of the Week: "George Jones Alive and Touring Through the Fall"

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Photo by Lisa Rosato
A live Possum onstage in April 2011 at Arena Theatre
Look, Rocks Off is a countrycentric place. We love our classic country and good modern country like no one's business, and we have driven miles and miles to see some of our heroes. When country legend George Jones has taken ill these past few years, our hearts have all skipped a beat. We know that when the Possum finally hits the pearly gates upstairs we will be in mourning for a good while.

Mr. Jones is actually playing -- live -- this coming Saturday night at the Arena Theatre, and has a date in Winnie at Nutty Jerry's lined up on November 23 with Hayes Carll and Folk Family Revival.

Leave it a PR email to remind us that Jones is alive with the email heading "George Jones Alive and Touring Through the Fall." They could have left it at "George Jones Touring Through the Fall," because it's not like I would have questioned Jones playing shows. But it's cool that his being alive is PR-worthy news.

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Pack It In, Rappers: Jaden Smith Is Here!

Mark it down, folks, August 7, 2012, is the day that the rap game was sealed up by Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and the brother of Willow Smith. You won't do much better than "Pumped Up Kicks (Like Me)," his just-released single, which, of course, samples Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks."

You all remember Willow's 2010 mega-monster hit "Whip My Hair," which was the "Friday" of that year. Maybe brother Jaden's new song about being a young, rich skateboarder with moon-faced white chicks surrounding him will manage to top it.

To be honest, I empathized more with whipping my hair than I ever will with someone being jealous of my shoes and skating. But maybe that's part of the magic. He's being sarcastic about the whole thing. He's shining a light on celebrity-child frivolity.

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King of Memes Gotye Hitting Houston October 11

In wishful touring news, an October 11 Gotye date has been announced at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Right now, you are asking who Goatee is and why he, she or they are headlining an outdoor pavilion. I say wishful because the guy has one single to his credit, but a hell of a lot of memes.

Earlier this year, the Belgian-born Australia-based singer-songwriter scored a fluke hit with his single "Somebody That I Used to Know" which has become the break-up anthem for 2012. Gotye and pop-rock act fun. both lead a charge on the Billboard charts this year, logging chart-topping, highly-requested radio nuggets.

The Gotye album, Making Mirrors, has been a brisk seller, and the single's spare and haunting vocal line evokes 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" and the work of Peter Gabriel, but is less bombastic.

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New Idea: Give Fans Your Phone Number

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Shore Fire Media
Every so often, a ballplayer or musician will accidentally post their private phone number on Twitter, or perhaps a social-media-savvy celeb like Charlie Sheen will tweet out a buddy's digits as a prank. Hilarity ensues, usually in the form of thousands of text messages, and that person is usually soon the proud owner of a new number.

Aaron Freeman, better known as Gene Ween, did something a little different. When his solo album under his non-Ween name, Marvelous Clouds, came out last week, he posted a phone number on the Internet and invited fans to text him their feedback. More than 2,000 people did.

This seems like a good idea for someone like Gene Ween, who has a relatively small but passionate fan base. Here is a small sampling of the outpouring of love Freeman received:

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The 10 Funniest Lines In Recent Extreme-Music Press Releases

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Recent album covers by Appalachian Terror Unit (left) and Pinkish Black
Most days, Rocks Off's email inbox is swamped with dozens of messages from industrious publicists eager for us to write something about their artists. That's their job. Hitting the "save" or "delete" button is ours. We certainly have our own lapses sometimes, but we have also been writing (and reading) about music long enough that we can recognize cliché and hyperbole pretty quick. So whether or not we have ever heard of the artist being hyped, many of these press releases make our eyes glaze over within a line or two of starting to read them.

But not all of them. Rocks Off literally gets dozens, maybe hundreds, of press releases a week, and enough of them make us raise an eyebrow -- or even better, laugh out loud -- that we have finally decided to start keeping track. Interestingly, many of them come from publicists trying to interest a relatively mainstream publication in deathrock, doom-metal, grindcore and other extreme subgenres; in other words, some of the least mainstream music on the planet. Really, it's just a couple of companies that do it, but they do it very well.

It cannot be easy to make bands with names like Cattle Decapitation, Dying Fetus, and Exhumed sound appealing outside this relatively narrow community, but there are a few intrepid souls who have the knack. They are the kind of people who, as the saying goes, could probably sell ice to an polar bear.

So we salute the following press agents for both their obvious passion for the musicians they represent and their creativity with the English language. It worked -- we're writing about their artists, aren't we?

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Dave Grohl Vs. Skrillex: Dumbest Music Feud Ever?

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Photo by Matthew Keever
Skrillex at Verizon Wireless Theater, September 2011
Sometimes it's very easy for Rocks Off's brain to go on autopilot while checking our email in the morning. If we're not weeding out actual spam to delete, we're wincing at messages hyping music whose wretchedness practically leaps off the screen. (Someone you've never heard of touted as a "legend" is one red flag, for example.)

But this morning one such email made us raise an eyebrow. Titled "DAVE GROHL CLARIFIES HIS GRAMMY ACCEPTANCE SPEECH," it brought about two immediate reactions:

  • "I hate emails with all-cap headlines."
  • "I watched the Grammys. Why did Dave Grohl have to clarify his speech?"

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UPDATE: Linda Chorney, Listen Up

UPDATE -- a note from the author: We spoke to Mr. Ames again this afternoon. He informed us that he thought the conversation would not be used in our article and that it was only for background information. He also stated that he does not recall some of the statements attributed to him. Neither Mr. Ames nor the author is implying that Ms. Chorney or her radio promoter engaged in any unethical practices regarding airplay. The comments regarding such practices were general statements only, not specific to Ms. Chorney. We regret any confusion. Mr. Ames informed us that he will be interviewing Ms. Chorney on his show on Monday, January 30, at 8:20 a.m. We recommend that concerned readers tune in to hear Ms. Chorney in her own words at this link.

Gordon "Big G" Ames
The Linda Chorney Grammy thing just won't go away. It seems now Chorney is barraging radio stations with her latest album, hoping to gain a smidgen of credibility before going to the Grammys with zero album sales, which we presume is going to be an historic first.

Former Houstonian Gordon "Big G" Ames, the program director at KOOK-FM, "Real Deal Radio," received a copy of Chorney's CD earlier this week. He was not amused. In fact, he is so not amused his Thursday show is going to be themed "Making An Example."

"I've been around a long time and I know how things work," says Ames from his home outside Kerrville. "You and I both know that if you put a thousand dollars in a few hands you can get your album on someone's quote unquote chart. You know it, I know it. And that makes me mad. It's sad and pathetic what the Americana syndicate chooses to accept payment for."

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