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Who are the most overexposed rock stars?
Here, there and everywhere
By David Browne
(Entertainment Weekly) -- It's time for rock stars to go away, at least for a while.
I don't mean the music; I mean the sight of the people who create it.
Take, for example, Sheryl Crow. I genuinely like Crow's records and the effortless way they've revived the sound and sensibility of breezy '70s Cali pop. She's become the Tom Petty or Bob Seger of her generation -- a solid craftsperson, if not an innovator -- and she's done it as a woman, an accomplishment in itself.
You'd think Crow would be content with that success, and with the knowledge that her career has stayed in the limelight far longer than those of her Lilith Fair peers. But no. Months after the release of her latest album, one can't open a newspaper or magazine, turn on the TV (''Big Brother 3'' -- what was that?), or watch clips from benefit concerts, NASCAR events, or even classroom appearances (!!) without seeing Crow smiling for the cameras; she may be pop's most relentless careerist. I half-expected her to show up at the opening of that new BBQ joint on my block last week.
Anyone who recalls what it was like to be a pop fan shortly before the arrival of MTV knows this wasn't the way it always was. Rock then had an underground, semi-secret-society atmosphere, and the media coverage reflected it.
To actually see what a musician looked like, you had to stumble across an occasional article or, if you were lucky, see an extremely rare network-TV appearance on shows like ''Don Kirshner's Rock Concert'' or ''American Bandstand.'' Unlike the movie stars who shamelessly ran up to any reporter's microphone, rock stars weren't ubiquitous, which was part of their appeal and mystique.
MTV (and, yes, mags like EW) changed that scenario for good. But only in the last year or so has its impact truly kicked in. I partly blame rap, whose most brazen stars have long been willing to flaunt their material possessions as proof of their fame. Shows like ''Cribs'' and ''The Osbournes'' embody the media overkill now accorded all-too-willing rock stars.
Much of pop's mystery has been lost now that we've seen Ozzy taking out the trash, Mariah posing in her shoe closet, Lenny Kravitz showing off his new apartment in The New York Times, Britney Spears sitting front and center at New York's fashion shows, and Ryan Adams yucking it up with Joan Rivers on the Grammy red carpet.
Call me old-fashioned, but I still want to believe that my rock stars aren't mere publicity-grubbing mass entertainers but people who make the most nakedly direct of all the arts, who can articulate thoughts and feelings many of us can't, and who might actually irk someone like Joan Rivers. But I also realize those days are as long gone as Sheryl Crow's shy period, and we may as well grow accustomed to their faces.