10 Controversial Artists I Want to See on the New Arsenio
Arsenio Hall and Snoop Doggy Dogg in 1994
Woof woof woof woof woof.
Get used to that, 'cause Arsenio is back. Nearly two decades after The Arsenio Hall Show disappeared from TV's late-night landscape following a five-year run, the man himself is being recalled to duty by CBS's syndicated-programming wing. The new Arsenio debuts in the fall, reportedly in an early-late-night slot like 9 or 10 p.m. Houston time. (Check your local listings.)
How? Why? I don't care. This is excellent news for '90s nostalgists. The original Arsenio was the first late-night talk show aimed at young people, and the show got creative with its guests. You were as apt to see Hall interviewing "Macho Man" Randy Savage as you were to find an entire episode devoted to humoring Louis Farrakhan. The musical guests were even better.
The old show booked acts that nobody else would touch at the time, from edgy rappers like Snoop Doggy Dogg, 2 Live Crew and Public Enemy to heavy-metal shredders Body Count, Anthrax and Megadeth. Arsenio once turned a whole episode over to musical performances by Prince. What's more, he typically interviewed the musicians like regular guests, rather than simply shaking their hands as the credits rolled.
We hope that musical daring extends to the new show, because Arsenio's got a lot more talk-show competition this time around -- and in an earlier time slot to boot. Making it another five years will take a miracle. That's why I plan to enjoy every episode we get, especially if Arsenio books some of my favorite controversial artists of today:
10. Al Walser Who? That's the question a lot of EDM adherents are still asking one another after Walser was nominated for a Best Dance Recording Grammy in December despite being almost completely unknown in the U.S. Put off by his effective social-networking campaign to cozy up to Grammy members, many have dismissed the Lichtensteinian producer/DJ/nobody as the new Rebecca Black, which...damn. Let's not say shit we can't take back.
Let's give Walser a chance to move our asses before we get too bent out of shape, shall we? Whether Al Walser goes down as an up-and-coming EDM superstar or as a bizarre footnote in the genre's transition into the mainstream, Arsenio is the perfect platform to get his music to the people from whom he so clearly craves approval.
9. A$AP Rocky I've made no secret of my A$AP Rocky fandom of late, and I'm not alone: Despite being widely bootlegged long before its release, Long.Live.A$AP still hit No. 1 on the charts. That kind of success puts the Harlem rapper into Leno territory, but there's no denying that Arsenio would be a better fit for his youth-oriented sensibility. It's the most slowed-and-thowed thing we're likely to see on prime-time TV anytime soon.
8. M.I.A. If her bird-flipping incident at last year's Super Bowl taught us anything, it's that M.I.A. isn't really intimidated by TV cameras. The British bad girl has some pretty radical ideas that she's not shy about sticking in the faces of as wide an audience as possible, making her a perfect fit for Arsenio's wild musical segments. Spitting, swearing, nudity: These are the artist's preferred medium, and her songs are pretty good to boot. That's quality TV, in my book.
7. Frank Ocean Frank Ocean still counts as controversial, right? I mean, c'mon, he's gay. No? Who cares, he's good. Book him.
6. Lana Del Rey You kind of either really dig Lana Del Rey or hate her guts. She's polarizing. But Born to Die was one of last year's biggest-selling records, so obviously a lot of people are into her. That's paid off with some nice performances on TV shows both in the States and abroad, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for a train wreck reminiscent of her infamous SNL appearance.
Not only would she provide Arsenio with an intriguing guest, but potential fodder for endless jokes as well. Convenient! Personally, I plan to spend her entire performance staring at those weird-ass fake lips.
5. Insane Clown Posse Arsenio always enjoyed having entertaining freaks on his show. Hell, the man once interviewed Friday the 13th slasher Jason Voorhees on his show. Shouldn't be any great stretch to host another two guys who pretend to be serial murderers: the lovable Insane Clown Posse.
ICP's Faygo-drenched retardo-rap schtick is tailor-made for TV, and it's a shame they're never invited on anyplace. Arsenio could be the next in a series of deliciously uncomfortable intersections between ICP and the mainstream.
4. Riff Raff Hey, we got to get one local guy on there. I get the knock on Riff Raff's whole bit, but I like him anyway. Although he stands completely apart from the Houston rap scene, I find that he fits comfortably in the city's pantheon of rapping weirdos, and his sheer enthusiasm and glee for...whatever it is that he's doing is infectious.
I want to see more of him on TV, his natural habitat. I mean, this is music you can really woof along to here.
3. Lupe Fiasco Ex-next-big-thing Lupe Fiasco made headlines recently when he was escorted offstage during a performance at one of about six trillion inaugural concerts in Washington after he made his displeasure with the President's foreign policy abundantly clear.
Fat chance he'd find himself similarly cut off on The Arsenio Hall Show. If Lupe's got a legitimate political point to make, odds are he'd find a more receptive audience on late-night TV than at a re-election party.
2. Justin Bieber It's already begun, folks. The cracks in Justin Bieber's gleaming Canadian veneer are starting to show. He's been photographed allegedly smoking weed and groping a fan's boob in recent weeks, and now rumors have surfaced that he's sucking down purple drank on the reg.
Now that he's got hair on his nuts, it seems the Biebs has developed a taste for sex, drugs and filthy lucre. What better arena for his coming-out party as the Maple-scented thug he's become than Arsenio? It's time to unveil that gangsta new neck tat and make Beliebers out of the streets, J.B.
Oh, yes. Where else but Arsenio could America's Sweetheart, Chris Brown, get a fair shake? Thanks to his irascible woman-beatin', chair-tossin' indiscretions, Chris has managed to alienate more fans than even his hero, Michael Jackson.
Maddeningly enough, his talents as a song-and-dance man remain elite. An appearance on Arsenio would give us all a chance to appreciate those gifts while simultaneously enjoying the warm embrace of righteous hatred. It's a rare artist who can elicit that kind of genuine feeling.
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