Hoaxes: We’ve all fallen for them at one point or another. As technology gets smarter, society moves faster, and the industry burns brighter, seeking substantial facts becomes irksome and timely, so much so that few souls ever really try anymore. Instead, double checking for many is consulting another site or Twitter handle, leaving the thread to sources short, thin, and likely intangible.
For the entertainment industry, hoaxes have always existed — after all, everyone wants a good laugh — they’ve just become more complicated and harder to distinguish, which means countless troublemakers are cackling these days.
Consequence of Sound isn’t afraid to admit we’ve fallen for a few of them, even despite our best efforts. With that in mind, we thought we’d vent some by compiling a list of the best hoaxes in music history. Some are ancient, while others were scripted as recent as a week ago.
Enjoy — with a smirk.
Daft Punk, Glastonbury, and The Third Twin
What’s the hoax? The urgent desire to see the willfully-reclusive Daft Punk return to the live stage has made fools of us all. Sometimes the hype manifests itself in relatively harmless forms, such as fan-made Coachella posters that inevitably feature the robots at the top of the bill. Occasionally, pranksters get creative, successfully trolling the masses with a fraudulent LA Times article leak and more recently a fake Glastonbury website confirmation. Correction, make that GlastoMbury. Yes, a troll took the time and expense to register a domain for their ruse.
What these hoaxes prove is that fans are willing to abandon caution and cold, robot logic when it comes to Daft Punk, and the stench of desperation draws in predators like a bucket of fresh chum. More malevolent than the trolls are outright scammers, such as the mysterious parties that sold tickets to a nonexistent performance in Shanghai back in 2009.
Most baffling is the notion that Daft Punk themselves were responsible for a hoax of their own, leaking a rejected Tron 2.0 score onto the internet under the name The Third Twin. Although the songs in question were blatantly amateur approximations of the beloved style, the promoters of Spain’s Arenal Festival booked the doppelgangers for a performance, advertising a relation to the duo, a connection which has since been officially debunked.
The source: The truth is out there…somewhere.
Hoax Score: 8.5 out 10
Fake MF Doom Gigs
What’s the hoax? It turns out that it’s hard to connect with or believe a performer who wears a face-obscuring mask. Fans of the metal-faced emcee DOOM started to report differing heights and sizes of the man on stage, arguing that the product was often an imposter sent to walk the stage as a vocal track of the real deal played over the PA. As if that weren’t enough, “DOOM” has a tendency for ghillie suits, puffy coats, and other form-denying outfits, making the size assessment difficult at best.
The source: Reports of lackluster DOOM performances range pretty far back, increasingly attributed in forums and blogs to the impostor option. The man also known as Daniel Dumile claims that the size differences are due to extreme weight loss, fans connect it to influence from Dr. Doom’s robotic impostor/minions, but a promoter admitted that as long as someone showed up in the mask things were the same. Dumile added, though, that “looking at it has nothing to do with what it sounds like,” which seems kind of like a “No, these are absolutely not impostors, but if they were it would be totally fine, so maybe they are, so what?”
Hoax Score: 9.9999 out of 10 – Or, until DOOM actually comes clean.
Nine Inch Nails’ Strobe Light
What’s the hoax? Diehard fanatics of Nine Inch Nails are cognizant of Trent Reznor’s histrionics on the Internet, namely his hilarious escapades on Twitter. So it’s remarkable that this April Fool’s joke went by and even duped anyone. Back in 2009, the elusive frontman announced the sale of a new album titled, Strobe Light. Not only was it produced by Timbaland, but it allegedly featured Justin Timberlake, Chris Martin, Jay-Z, Bono, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, Fergie, Al Jourgensen (!), and, uh huh, even Maynard James Keenan. Red flags, right?
Sort of. At the time, Reznor was tossing out free music left and right; what’s more, everyone was still on their toes in the early post-In Rainbows age. So, conceivably, the guy gave his fans’ hearts a jolt for an hour or two. But not too long considering that anyone who actually attempted to purchase the album were dealt with the nefarious “Blue Screen of Death”.
The source: Who else? The man himself. Some suggest it was a long con towards fellow veteran Chris Cornell, who had just released his abysmal solo record, Scream, also produced by Timbaland.
Hoax Score: 4.4 out of 10
Fake Fleetwood Mac
What’s the hoax? Amidst internal strife and after losing a string of guitarists – the last of whom, Bob Weston, was booted for having an affair with Mick Fleetwood’s then-wife, Jenny Boyd – Fleetwood Mac cut short their “Mystery to Me” tour. Band manager Clifford Davis put together a fake Mac with no actual members to fulfill the band’s obligations, telling audiences that Mick intended to join the tour later.
The public eventually caught on, as did the band, instigating a lengthy legal battle over who had the rights to the name “Fleetwood Mac”. Davis eventually lost the case, and the “fake Mac” formed Stretch, scoring a hit with “Why Did You Do It?”, aimed at Mick for what they alleged was his involvement in the debacle. The title of the next Fleetwood Mac album? Heroes Are Hard to Find.
The source: Clifford Davis and “fake Mac”/Stretch: Elmer Gantry, Kirby Gregor, Paul Martinez, John Wilkinson, and Craig Collinge. And if you believe those guys, Mick Fleetwood was in on it, too.
Hoax Score: 10 out of 10 – That shit actually happened.
Jai Paul’s Fake Debut and Mixtapes
What’s the hoax? One Saturday night in April quickly escalated into an all-out celebration amongst R&B fans when Jai Paul mysteriously dropped his “debut album” on Bandcamp — or so we thought. Prior to end-all commencement of online high fives and all-caps statuses and tweets, Paul had only released two official singles “BTSTU” and “Jasmine”. An enamored group of fans, who gathered together on a Kanye West message board, even curated an unofficial mixtape, Everlasting, which contained a series of unfinished demos scoured from the Internet.
The Bandcamp site was equipped with ambiguous hashtags hinting at London-based zip codes and other acronyms as well as a titleless 16-track. Fans unhesitantly whipped out their credit cards to exchange £7 for the much-anticipated “holy grail” of underground R&B. Unfortunately, this dream was cut short by XL Recordings, who yanked the BandCamp account the following day. In their defense, Jai Paul supplied some input through his first public statement on social media, stating “To confirm: demos on bandcamp were not uploaded by me, this is not my debut album. Please don’t buy. Statement to follow later. Thanks, Jai.”
The source: According to an official press release, Paul’s “debut” was a leak consisting of “various unfinished recordings from Jai’s past” lifted from a stolen laptop. XL also claimed to be in the process of giving refunds to purchasers. (I still have yet to see a deposit in my bank account.) Regardless, this recent unveiling has accumulated a storm of positive publicity to Jai Paul’s name, generating the craving for his official album to be higher than ever before.
Hoax Score: 6.5 out of 10 – Though the leaked-demo bit is believable, it seems that this release was designated to hold over Jai’s most dedicated fans with new material until he drops his official debut album.