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The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Snowed In’ by Hanson (1997)

29 Apr

By Slick Nick | @Poppeelings

The late 1990s were great times. I was doing my GCSEs, didn’t have to work yet and still had aspirations.

The mornings of these years, specifically in 1997, were started with a dose of the Big Breakfast television show in which the superb Kelly Brook who every day seemed to fend off the unwanted sexual attention of her co-host Johnny Vaughan, a man a few years away from joining the bald community, struggling with the weight of his own chin. She had the teets and pins that would make her a future global superstar for doing nothing of worth whatsoever, and at the time, Hanson were launched on the UK like three mini Christs, taking the charts by storm with their splendid hit single ‘MmmBop’.

Hanson really were a big deal, so much so that Canada even spawned a rip-off group with the terrible Moffats. Suddenly pubescent white males that sang and played their own instruments were ‘in’, and ‘MmmBop’ turned out to be one of the finest songs of the decade to break big. Joyful, incomprehensible, rocking, it featured on the 1997 album ‘Middle of Nowhere’ which sadly wasn’t great. Also, in asking the listener to tell them who is still gay, it was quite edgy, lyrics-wise. I wonder if the phrase mmmbop itself was some kind of allusion to anal sex, but I digress slightly.

To capitalise on their instant fame, ‘Snowed In’ was hastily recorded in London and released in the same year. Featuring fourty minutes of terrible music, it was a novelty Christmas album, arguably the lowest of the low in the pop industry that few artists or bands have ever stooped low enough to put out.

‘Snowed In’ is one of the worst albums ever made, whatever the time of year. Featuring a mixture of awful cover versions and original material, it exists solely to suck the life out of any festivities that may be happening in December in the western world.

‘Merry Christmas Baby’ kicks things off, plagarising Deep Purple’s majestic ‘Maybe I’m A Leo’ along the way, a fatal error from the off. The only other notable riff is in the bog standard ‘Everybody Knows The Clause’ which is ok, at least by Hanson’s generally low standards.

Pretty much as soon as this record starts, all hell breaks loose, and not in a ‘Reign in Blood’ by Slayer kind of way. Ironic really for a band with a militant Christian upbringing.

‘Snowed In’ is a mixture of Hanson’s own inept compositions and woefully ill-judged cover versions of famous yuletide hits such as ‘Rockin Around The Christmas Tree’. The former are so wet and miserable it’s a wonder they weren’t featured on an episode of Eastenders, and the latter so over the top and overly serious that there is no enjoyment to be had from them whatsoever.

Hanson: Still gay?

Christmas, for most of us, is really about kicking back, watching some crap TV shows, getting some nice swag or cash and eating life-threatening amounts of food. When the classic Christmas songs start coming on the radio, those off us that got an education and don’t have to do shift work know that the countdown to the cash and calories has begun. Everyone including the original artists sort of know their December hits are a bit crap, but it’s part of a nice tradition now. The point is, they do not take themselves or their seasonal music seriously.

Hanson made this mistake, which leaves ‘Snowed In’ with no redeeming features whatsoever. Listening to it from beginning to end, as I’ve had to to write this article, was one of the most gruelling musical experiences I can remember. The music itself is terrible, but perhaps even worse, tonally wrong for the subject matter. It’s three young longhairs playing music more suited to men three times their ages. It’s crap.

The world of mainstream pop music in the noughties remained Hanson-free; I blame ‘Snowed In’. Maybe if they had waited at least another year or so after releasing the poor but cherished ‘Middle of Nowhere’, and followed up with a better album that was at least still cool from the perspective of teen girls, Hanson would have enjoyed a more substantial, longer-lasting career.

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The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Stereo Typical’ (2011) by Rizzle Kicks

9 Apr

By Slick Nick | @Poppeelings

I do generally ignore hip-hop and dance music as genres, assuming that the majority of albums under these banners will be poor by default, so not worthy my time in writing about them. However, with Rizzle Kicks, I’ve decided to make an exception. It seems impossible to escape them and their terrible music. They have guested on other poor quality singles from the likes of Olly Murs, and have now made enough videos of their own to never be off the music channels and radio. Having captured my attention and invaded my life in the same way Bruno Mars did this time last year, I feel it my duty to explore their debut album ‘Stereo Typical’ in some depth.

These guys are two rappers from Brighton; there’s a couple of reasons right there to avoid their music at all costs. I have to say, the title is slightly misleading, as this is not a typical modern hip-hop record. With retro-sounding backing music underpinning light-hearted, unchallenging lyrics, it’s certainly unlike any other album of the same genre around today.

And therein lies the first problem. There are no big cars, no massive gold chains, no guns, no swearing, no lyrics humiliating women and rival gang members, just nothing fun or interesting. Sometimes I like a bit of escapism in music, and Rizzle Kicks fail to provide it here. There is no conflict or drama in their verse, only emptiness. It’s probably this kind of safe mediocrity that got them paired up with Olly Murs for the rubbish ‘Heart Skips a Beat’ single.

The song-writing is poor at the best of times, with bog-standard rapping permeating each track and ineffective stabs at melody coming during certain choruses. Rap affictionados often get up in arms when someone describes their beloved music as ‘just talking’, but in the case of this album, it really is the truth. Listening to clowns talk about their mundane lives over forgettable backing music is certainly not what I’d call compelling. To add to the misery, they keep reminding the listener of their band name in nearly every song. Trust me, I did not need to be told this so often.

Wankers: The music of Rizzle Kicks isn't as fun as they think it is

The (many) singles are practically as bland and forgettable as the filler fluff, a rarity in modern pop music, with the exception being the insufferable ‘Mama Do The Hump’. This song and title is so bad, it’s almost embarrassing to have to write. Simply one of the worst singles released in recent memory, as if to rub salt into the wounds of music lovers, it also featured a ‘hilarious’ cameo by that blubbery bastion of medicrity James Corden doing a funny little dance in the cheap-looking video.

I find the look of bemusement on the Kicks’ faces quite interesting on the front cover of this hour of crap music, as if they are asking themselves ‘why did so many people buy our singles and this album?’ It’s a question that beats me too. I’m sure it will puzzle music historians for years to come as well.

‘Stereo Typical’ is one of the worst albums ever made. It is a lifeless, mundane, boring effort that fails to do what it says on the tin, performed by two young wankers from Brighton lacking the musical talent and life experience required to make a passable hip-hop album. Take my advice – instead of listening to this record, get the same effect by playing some George Formby on the stereo whilst having a conversation with an old aunt or uncle on the phone, it’s probably less painful.

The Worst Albums Ever Made – The Pop Videos Of David Hasselhoff

29 Aug

By Slick Nick

@Poppeelings

I would love to one day be able to write about a single Hoff album, keeping with the tradition of this blog category. Sadly, at the time of writing, I had blown my free Spotify hours for the month on Craig David, and surprisingly there are barely any seeders at all on Pirateybay.org for the Baywatch legend’s recorded material.

Having said that, after looking at some of David’s pop videos on YouTube, it seems his art is equal part visual spectacle. Seeing David perform these songs, as well as just listening to the music itself, is something I believe all aspiring music critics should put themselves through. It’s pretty hard to imagine how bad music can actually get until you’ve watched even just ten seconds of one of these videos. With that being said, I’m sure the following songs were featured on some of the worst albums ever made.

How could a man like this make bad music?

David has been a surprisingly prolific recording artist, given his TV star background. His first album came out in 1985 and he hasn’t really stopped since, much to the delight of his fanbase which encompasses German-speaking Europeans only. The singles began in 1989 and continued until the mid-nineties, where he had something of a hiatus, coming back with a bang in the mid-noughties.

I cannot imbed videos into my blog at this point in time, and I think to want to do so I would need a more worthy cause than David Hasselhoff’s music. None the less, I am happy to link to them below.

‘Looking For Freedom’ (1989) CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO

This appears to be the debut single/video in which David yearns for freedom after a very privaleged upbringing. The verses are not the song’s strong points by any means, so it relies heavily on its gospel-tinged power choruses to get by.

The whole thing is very eighties – including smoke machines and clips of Knight Rider, which are intercut or faded over David in quite an obvious and cheap-looking studio set. The set with the white trees and purple background looks like something out of a NEXT catalogue from twenty years ago and is therefore completely appropriate for this video.

Whilst the song is by no means a classic, it does showcase David’s very limited vocal range perfectly, and offers a relatively catchy chorus and dance beat.

You'll be looking for freedom too after enduring this

‘Our First Night Together’ (1989) CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO

This is more familiar territory – a mindfuckingly awful song, which also happens to be some kind of a duet with a quite unremarkable blonde. Terrible singing, both singularly and in partnership, underpin a tune-free bore. The chord changes in the choruses are far too ambitious for such a lifeless husk of a pop song as well.

David and skirt should have built the song up to end with some harmonies, but they don’t even bother to do that.

The video itself is an oddity; tonally uneven, and making little sense. There appears to be a camera crew in the narrative actually making the video as the viewer watches it. They start off in a car, then it jumps to the two leads in concert together, complete with David rocking hard with an electric guitar (probably not even plugged in). There only appears to be a few dozen revellers at the event though, which is a lot considering how bad the music is. It’s really as crap as an obscure Eurovision entry and not something I’d recommend.

The cover, rather than the single, helped album sales

‘Flying On The Wings Of Tenderness’ (1990) CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO

David gets serious here, with an ode to his one true love. Though since no other characters are present, I assume he’s really singing this to himself, clumsy metaphors and all.

It’s a very slow, tedious song with appalling lyrics, shameful for a man with such a sturdy liver as the Hoff.

To make matters worse, the video is very low budget and uninspired, with just David on his lonesome singing on the beach. Occasionally a shot of a goose in flight appears faded over David, which I think lessens any minute impact this might have had.

Finally, the title itself is a shocker. The more I read it, the more ludicrous it seems. It just makes no sense on any conceivable level at all, particularly when underpinned by the flying goose clips.

All the single and album front covers used the same photo

‘Crazy For You’ (1990) CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO

This is a light-hearted song, reminiscent of the Stocks, Waterman & Aitken guff that was around at the time. The chrous is remarkable only for ripping off ‘YMCA’ by the Village People. Out of all the hundreds of millions of recorded songs that had to be in existence in 1990, they could havw chosen a better one to copy than that one.

The song itself is very feminine; it could easily have sat on a Kylie Minogue album. Some of the images in the video are the opposite though, with David being seen riding a gigantic motorcycle. It’s an interesting juxtaposition probably lost on its audience at the time.

When David arrives at a fairground, off he gets from the bike and out pops a dog from a satchel, which then ends up pressing the ‘start’ button on the abandoned rollercoaster David has found himself on. I’d love to know what the fuck they were smoking when they imagined that as a concept. Why is the rollercoaster deserted in the first place? That just suggests that David is so unpopular as a recording artist, and he was, that he could clear leisure areas of humanity just by turning up there.

David is crazy for someone who seems to be returning the affection, so there is no conflict or heart in this song. It exists solely as a carbon copy of one of the shittest disco songs ever written.

Such a shame he's not currently making an album

The Worst Albums Ever Made: ‘Everybody Wants To Be On TV’ (2010) by Scouting For Girls

9 Aug

By Slick Nick

Last year, a teenage girl hit the headlines after willingly buying the Scouting For Girls album ‘Everybody Wants To Be On TV’ , one of the worst albums ever made. In a Pop Peelings exclusive, the girl, who we’ll call ‘Stacey’, and her mother, speak for the first time about the ordeal and how the family are coming to terms with those events.

We’re in Ruislip, Middlesex, a quintessentially British suburb on the outskirts of West London.

The home is a 4-bedroom traditional residence, with ample garden space. Family photos adorn ornament cabinets. One shows a young Stacey in a school uniform. She is a pretty girl, alive with the hopes and dreams of any middle class, spoilt 14 year old.

‘That was taken only a few weeks before…’ her mother begins, before stiffling the tears. Stacey’s father was still too distraught to take part in our meeting.

The distress that this record has brought upon an innocent family is painfully obvious.

Just terrible music

When we finally meet Stacey, she is almost unrecognisable from that photo. Youth barely penetrates the gaunt, haggered features in front of us. This is a girl that clearly hasn’t slept properly for the best part of a year.

She is clutching a wrinkled piece of paper. A red, blue and white picture adorns it. The colours fall way outside the lines.

‘That’s the front cover of the album she’s drawn,’ explains mum. ‘She’s done one of those every day for the last three months.’

Stacey suffers from what leading psychologists now refer to as SFG (Scouting For Girls) Withdrawal Syndrome. In layman’s terms, it is a severe psychological reaction to the sheer mundanity of the music as written and performed by Scouting For Girls. The few known cases have seen affected individuals withdraw almost totally from reality. The illustrating of the band’s album covers tends to happen in only the most severe cases.

‘I’m a good girl, mister,’ she begins. ‘Wanna hear the angels sing?’

She doesn’t make eye contact.

I politely decline. For research purposes, I am already well aware of how bad ‘Everybody Wants To Be On TV’ is. It is categorised as a pop record, which makes the distinct lack of melody in the ten songs all the more staggering. The production is deeply flawed, with instruments so heavily mixed together that decifering a guitar from a keyboard becomes an almost impossible task. In addition, the singing is worthless. Monotone and generic, the only emotion it evokes in the listener is that of seething, intense boredom.

The album wears its influences on its sleeve, evoking the music of U2, The Jam, Kaiser Chiefs and contemporary Green Day – all terrible bands in their own right, but certainly preferrable to Scouting For Girls. It’s hard to imagine a worse guitar pop group active in modern times [ unless Bon Jovi are still going? – ed. ].

SFG: How many more families will their crap music rip apart?

Until science can find a cure for her condition, Stacey must continue to live each day immersed in her own world in which nothing but Scouting For Girls exists. Until then, she will never know the simple joy of taking a dip in Highgrove swimming pool during the summer months, or the pleasure of getting fingered in the park behind the high street after a few refreshing cans of cider with friends. She will never know what it is to be normal.

So how does a mother cope with the actions of a daughter led astray by mainstream radio and a government that doesn’t care?

‘My daughter is not a bad person,’ she says. ‘She just has the worst taste in music you can possibly imagine.’

‘Now the whole family are paying the price.’

‘We take each day as it comes. We’re trying to rebuild our lives but it’s not easy when you have to listen to ‘This Ain’t A Love Song’ twenty times a day.’

I can only offer my sympathies to this once wholesome middle class family. Now the lilac walls of their safe, comfortable abode will be forever spoilt with the echos of Scouting For Girls.

The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Olly Murs’ (2010) by Olly Murs

28 Jun

By Slick Nick

There is an Olly Murs in every school, every university and every office in the UK; a tiresome, annoying self-centered twat who you dare not get on the wrong side of for fear of being socially ostracised. By no means evil or unpleasant, they can never the less make life hell in so many other ways.

Despite being average-looking, having nothing of interest to say and wearing unremarkable highstreet clothing, they somehow draw people to them like moths to light. Resisting the light will prove controversial, since every conversation or gathering will revolve around this individual, effectively a conversational blackhole, sucking all matter into it that may be even slightly interesting in favour of what the Murs figure may be doing or not doing.

Thanks to Simon Cowell, one of these cheeky chappies was given a record deal, which meant even escaping into a car and puting the radio on presented a confrontation with the mundanity of their existence. The result is ‘Olly Murs’, an album featuring the best part of an hour’s worth of crap music.

Murs came second to Joe McElderry in 2009’s X Factor, arguably the shittest winner in the show’s history, and that’s saying something. This album is described as his ‘debut’, but that suggests a long discography is to follow. I really think, and hope, that this album alone will span Murs’ entire recording history, for the sake of pop music.

Upon first listen, the one thing that stands out alongside the staggering mediocrity is how tonally uneven the material is. It lurches from anthemy pop, to raggae, to sappy ballads. It’s like if a Leona Lewis song suddenly dropped in a thrashy guitar solo.

Looking at the chart positions of the four singles from this illustrates perfectly how fickle the British single-buying public are, and also what a missfire it was on Cowell’s part for launching Murs as a recording artist. Single one was a UK number one. Single four didn’t even make the top 40.

Cunt: Murs glimpses his net worth as a musician in 2011

Hit single ‘Please Don’t Let Me Go’ begins with an old radio effect, which is quite creative for a SYCO release, before stumbling into very dated-sounding raggae pop. I remember Murs being described by Cowell as ‘unbeleivably current’ at his first audition. True – nothing says 2011 like aping the chart music of 1993. It’s not quite as forgettable as the rest of the album but is no Aswad.

Follow-up ‘Thinking Of Me’ is more of the same, but worse.

Murs has a stab at warbling during the closing moments of ‘Heart On My Sleeve’, where things get a bit more serious. It reminds me of the modern Take That. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the army of song-writers and producers that worked on Murs’ atrocity had also spent time in the studio with Robbie and Gary et al. Speaking of the legendary boyband, there was also some serious bro love going down between Murs and Robbie Williams at the time of the X Factor live finals, which saw the two irritants perform an extremely mediocre duet together. This probably carefully spun PR between the managers of Murs and Williams stopped just short of the two sucking each other off on stage, but I digress.

Lyrically, the album sinks to a new low with ‘Busy’. Reminiscent of Bruno Mars, it uses the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ chord progression, as does ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’. Considering the album had 20-30 people contributing to the music, it’s unacceptable to use this riff on two songs from the same album. It really bugs me how often these chords are used, in pop and rock, and is just illustrative of unoriginal, lazy song-writing. Unsurprisingly, both of the efforts on this album are terrible.

Hold onto your sides: This illustrates visually the points made in paragraphs 1 and 2

Surrounding the four singles, which never get better than way below mediocre, is a lot of filler fluff that barely registers. It’s certainly not worth writing about, apart from noting that Murs as a singer leaves a hell of a lot to be desired.

Finally, the whole Murs persona on television and in the media really winds me up. There is an air of undeserved smugness about him, as if he has always been fully aware that he has fuck all to offer the world of popular music and is completely talentless. I hope everyone involved with his album, from Cowell to the song-writers, to the producers, even down to the intern that did the photocopying for marketing, are thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

GUEST ARTICLE: Gender And Society Within Early Craig David

12 Jun

Guest article by Professor Montgommery Sloan Barnicoat-Fucknozzle III Phd. MA. OBE – esteemed fellow of the arts at London South Bank University. This is the 37th chapter of 145 from his world-renowned thesis.

Class dismissed: Another legendary lecture by Barnicoat-Fucknozzle III leaves the students in awe

Craig David, arguably the driving force behind the UK neo-disco movement of the latter twentieth century, left behind a body of work that many well-known academics have assessed and written quite furiously about.

The spectacle of David’s work on a purely aesthetic level is never less than compelling, with soulful vocal melodies underpinned by a raw, tribal percussion that evokes memories of a mid-career Grandmaster Flash. His sexually-charged canticles of urban adolescent ambition resonate, and resonate hard; even my most gifted students, as well as fellow academics, remember exactly where they were the first time they heard ‘7 Days‘.

What makes David’s art such a rich tapestry for intellectual inspection are the generous subtexts that accompany much of his more abstract work. He presents us with an ambiguous picture of sexuality, literally depicting himself in photographs as something that screams ‘male’, yet at the same time utilizing a pleasant falsetto vocal that is anything but masculine.

Arguably David’s most discussed and dissected recording is 2000’s debut ‘Born To Do It‘, whose very title encourages the listener to think subtly about sex right from even before their gramophone’s stylus makes contact with the record itself.

Inspired: The album that ushered in the age of UK neo-disco

Opening lead single ‘Fill Me In‘ is structured around a garbled, chaotic narrative recounting an experience David appears to have had with an unfaithful girlfriend in which he challenges her fidelity. The chorus is beseiged by a request from David to an unknown individual to ‘fill him in’, thus dividing critical thought as to whether he is simply looking for an answer, or longing subconsciously to take part in the physical act of love with a willing male counterpart.

Gender and sexuality permeate all of David’s work relentlessly, encouraging the listener to question what the singer’s real feelings are towards women. In David’s world, women are merely playthings, objects whose use is purely for sexual gratification. These misogynistic leanings stem from the mind of someone who does not understand women, really has little interest in them and arguably fears them.

Confused: Physically distant from and emotionally cold towards quality skirt?

Though much of David’s commercial success is built on intense pressure from fans and peers to be seen as something of a ‘ladies man‘, there is a deep-rooted sexual conflict here which manifests itself beneath the surface of his compositions. Single ‘7 Days’ presents an almost dystopian view of femininity whereby a female will give up her mating resources within 48 hours of meeting a suitor, with virtually no challenge. She does not appear to be in paid employment and is undoubtedly not attending a recommended academic institute; the justification for her whole existence is merely to satisfy men sexually after bintercourse. This is not a song written by someone with a respect of, or admiration for, feminist issues or gender equality.

Evidence of a lengthy battle between heart and mind is apparent in the heart-warming ‘Bootyman‘, melodically a pastiche of a song from children’s psychological horror film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. This innocent facade juxtaposes heavily with David’s apparent thoughts of anal sex, and thus traces it back to the time in David’s childhood or very early adolescence where he first began to view male friends as more than simply academic counterparts. Floor-fillers they may be, however David’s material is fraught with the guilt and needless shame of a strapping young man wrestling with a sexual identity crisis.

David in 2011: The workload of the last decade has obviously taken its physical toll

On a later single, David appears to reach some sort of catharsis. ‘Walking Away‘ defiantly casts aside the vehement heterosexuality forced upon him by society and demotes women and sexual relationships with females to mere trifling matters that can be escaped quite easily. Finally, the words of a truly proud homosexual, spoken from a prime male specimen.

This article has been re-printed with kind permission from the Southbank University coffee shop toilet attendant.

GUEST ARTICLE: Extracts From ‘Sex And Genre Deconstruction In STAIND’

5 Jun

Extracts from the non-award winning essay by Professor Montgommery Sloan Barnicoat-Fucknozzle III Phd. MA. OBE – esteemed fellow of the arts at London South Bank University.

Science: The professor reveals the patended 'Theory of Why Staind Sell Records'.

…interesting piece written by fellow academics at the independent Canadian research institution Blatant Doom Trip entitled ‘Staind’ which offers a thorough introduction into the psyche of frontman Aaron Lewis through both qualitative and quantitative research methodology. A minstrel of sorts, Lewis is the main composer in the group, an intense youngster whose creativity appears to excel when backed by his blues-based ensemble. On a partially-related matter, the aforementioned BDT article forms much of the recommended reading material for the Autumn course I am running on what it means to be male in an American bluegrass combo in 2009. Students wishing to enrol should send a hand-written letter of interest with an enclosed holiday photo to my office in the cleaning cupboard at the…

… Lewis’ burgeoning unsatisfied sexuality being the driving force of early-to-mid career Staind. We are presented with not only the vision but also the inner turmoil of a sensual, all-American adult male unable to relenquish its seed in the traditional act of physical love with a willing suitor. This seemingly unending bout of involuntary celibasy becomes apparent with the song title of hit single ‘It’s Been A While‘ on the profoundly moving breakthrough album ‘Break The Cycle‘ of 2001. Whilst this record is essentially a post-modern grunge metal symphony, this particular song is a stipped-down exercise in lonliness; Lewis, entirely masculine in appearance (light on hair, heavy on bodyfat) cannot find a ‘home’ for the emotional and biological love he has to give. The singer uses a comparably sparse arrangement of ukulele and full backing combo, including percussion, to attempt to challenge the perception of…

Despair: The painted representation of Aaron Lewis' cerebellum

… particularly resonates is the song ‘Pressure‘ which lurches from the psychological to the physical. Quite simply, it is the description of having a fully erect member within the constraints of a particularly unforgiving pair of camo shorts. It calls to Lewis, challenging him to use it for the purpose God created it for in a hostile world. Thus, physical pressure impregnates a psychological pressure. The irony is not lost on…

… disagree entirely as do many learned gentleman in our field; there can only be one interpretation of the metaphor-drenched ‘Safe Place‘. Quite simply, it is an ode to the female reproductive organ, or a worship if one was feeling particularly generous. Lewis exists in a cold, distant world. The vagina can offer a gateway to the emotional warmth, as well as the physical gratification, that the singer so desperately seeks. Readers wishing for further clarity on theories relating to the vagina’s impact on previously Confederate American states should be pointed towards the…

Sensual: Lewis as primal all-American male

… penis. But if we pause to reflect on the surface of Staind’s later work, what presents itself is an attempt to deconstruct the very conventions of music that we are familiar with. Arguably the most significant piece in this later experimental stage is the wildly ambitious 2005 album ‘Chapter V‘. Note the use of the Roman numeral in the title itself; a confident yet subtle indicator that the listener is about to embark on a concept far removed from what is considered acceptable or enjoyable music on a purely superficial level in the present day. Lewis is looking into the past and asking us – what is music? What is a song? What are supposed to feel when…

Experimental: 'Chapter V' was part of the nu new wave of nu new nu metal

… dirty vests. But it does essentially wipe the canvas clean. We are granted the ‘words’ of the language of music, but little else, as Lewis bestows the listener with a constant sense of the absolute. This is a series of compositions that communicates with its audience, reminding them repeatedly that this they are witnessing some form of music being created. We have musical instruments working cohesively to produce roughly the same rhythmic sounds in the same consonant keys and scales. This is underpinned by a percussion that is ordered to retain a 4/4 time signature at any cost. We have some starse vocals making little attempt to be melodic. What we have in essence are the very foundations of music itself. The memorable guitar riffs and accessible hit singles of early Staind are long gone, replaced with an advanced musical theology that sees Lewis apparently starting again, both as a composer and as a sexually potent…

… gender issues in NASCAR racing. Though some would argue ‘Chapter V’ exists as pure dichotomy. My own theory as discussed is that Lewis had reached a point where simply making music in the traditional sense could no longer satisfy his cerebral or artistic urges. He hoped to bring in a new wave of American rock and roll whereby the components of music language were present only. Some learned gentlemen, however, have attempted to advance an alternative theory, hypothesising that Lewis had simply reached a point of irreversible psychological trauma brought about by countless years of being ineffective as a sexually capable adult male. Did this turmoil manifest itself in the sadistic aim to simply torture listeners, to encourage them to experience the frustration and despair that had rooted themselves deep within Lewis’ psyche for endless years? For further listening, readers are advised to…

Phallic: Lewis demonstrates both wealth and sexual goals

… archetypal of the ‘hoe down‘. But looking to the future, it is difficult for academics to not approach future Staind releases with unbridled anticipation. The work Lewis has been threatening for years will surely usher in an even newer new wave, likely to feature the composer sitting in the corner of a recording studio, improvising on a single-stringed banjo whilst intermittently sobbing into a brand new Stetson.

The professor can next be seen live in August at the Colchester branch of Costa Coffee, lecturing on the mythical depiction of South London present in the early work of So Solid Crew.

The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans’ (2010) by Bruno Mars

12 Mar

By Slick Nick

The first few months of a new year are usually trying times – it’s a struggle going back to work, the weather is shit, school kids are everywhere and Loose Women returns to television schedules. The early part of 2011 will always be remembered as a particularly frustrating period for me due to the compositions of Bruno Mars penetrating my daily morning and evening commutes like fucking wasp stings.

A poor man’s Michael Jackson, Mars shot to fame in 2010, largely for contributing bad ideas to already dreadful songs, like Travie McCoy’s mindfuckingly terrible  ‘Billionairre’, before ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans’, his debut album, was released to almost total elation from music critics and fans of bad music alike. The problem was, no one knew they were actually listening to one of the worst albums ever made.

Modern pop isn’t really my critical forte. Having grown up on a diet of punk, hardcore, metal, surf and Abba, dissecting rubbish like this takes me out of my comfort zone a little bit. None the less, the two main singles irritated me enough to delve deeper into the Mars discography, which luckily begins and ends with these twelve songs.

This is fourty minutes or so of unimaginative, wishy-washy, forgettable pop. It is a collection of sadsack musings from a man that would have no shame in asking someone ‘why do you think girls don’t like me?’ and rest assured, it is just as annoying.

I will always remain stunned that lead single ‘Just The Way You Are‘ shifted so many units. A song that outstays its welcome after about 23 seconds and then builds to a punishing falsetto warble, it features ridiculously melodramatic lyrics that even fucking Celine Dion would probably be embarrased to sing. Follow-up ‘Grenade‘ is even worse, alluding to the act of suicide over a girl. By claiming to be able to catch a live hand grenade to protect the said girl, Mars also makes light of war and disrespects our boys in Afghanistan or where ever the hell else our forces are stuck these days. That’s just offensive.

I’d love to see this object of Mr Mars’ lyrics; to listen to him, you’d think the broad had been perfetly crafted by the very hands of God himself.

‘Our First Time’ is a tender, boring ode to a couple’s initial fuckfest. It’s little more than a demo, like someone trying out a new microphone for the first time.

Then, ‘Runaway Baby‘ ups the ante, offering a punchier, jive-inspired number. It fails immediately due to the previous few songs affirming Mars’ status as something of a despair-ridden pariah in the eyes of the opposte sex, and is thus as embarrassing as seeing your relatives dancing at a wedding.

The Lazy Song‘ has ‘hit single’ written all over it, which is a worry. Does the British youth of today really need any more inspiration to do nothing with their lives but listen to rap music and mate? The album’s lyrics reaches its peak of crapness on here though, as proven by this choice cut: ‘Tomorrow I’ll wake up do some P90x / Meet a really nice girl have some really nice sex / And she’s gonna scream out ‘this is great’ (Oh my God, this is great).’ Brilliant. Let’s all destroy every copy of Shakespeare’s complete works – we have a new literary genius to dissect for GCSE English classes now. Sadly, all this cut leaves the listener with is an image of Mr Mars quite literally laying around in bed within the throws of self gratification (wanking).

I have to admit that this album isn’t without its saving graces. ‘Count On Me’ is a pleasant, low-key effort just slightly undermined by childish lyrics, whilst ‘Liquor Store Blues’ has a thunderous raggae bass groove that can be felt as well as heard. It’s no Toots & The Maytals but it’s certainly listenable.

Finally, the album title is woefully misleading. I was hoping for some strong harmony work, maybe some retro acapella ideas and certainly at least one cover of ‘Blue Moon’ by the fucking Marcels. Sadly, there’s no actual doo-wop to be had here at all though.

 

I’d catch a grenade for you, then write a shit song for you.

The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ (2008) by Oasis

26 Feb

By Slick Nick

There is no doubt in my mind that Oasis were the best pop group of the 90s, using a slew of extremely uncomplex singles and albums to end the musical careers of countless raggae and eurodance acts that always seemed to top the British charts at the time. Led by unambitious song-writer Noel Gallagher and starring his knobend brother Liam, the world was theirs for the taking – before Pop Idol, of course.

As enjoyable as the early Oasis compositions were, musically they were never anything more than basic as fuck. ‘Live Forever’ from the debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’, had an opening drum beat that any child could perform after two lessons, and generally you’d be lucky to get three or four different chords in a song. Listening to Oasis and then puting on a bit of Blur, their mortal enemies, was like listening to fucking Mozart by comparison. Sadly, their most ambitious riff from another early single called ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’ had already been written by heavy metallers T Rex around twenty five years earlier, so they couldn’t lay claim to that.

But, like a lot of bands that start out well, after a few albums and a shit ton of record sales, Oasis could no longer muster the effort to record decent music, and the decline in quality of output during the noughties was quite staggering. The band broke up soon after releasing their final album ‘Dig Out Your Soul’, one of the worst albums ever made.

These crap songs sound like the kind of music you’d find buried on a 100-track bootleg set of long-forgotten Beatles demos that were never intended for release – lifeless, boring and poorly recorded. For all the Gallagher brothers’ rock ‘n’ roll swagger and tabloid punch-ups, this final effort is like someone retiring by leaving the office quietly after an insincere presentation from their boss in front of their co-workers.

There was magic in the initial Oasis singles. Hell, if ‘Wonderwall’ came on the radio during my short commute to work every day, I’d probably punch the air (roof) with elation; I don’t go to nightclubs anymore, I wasn’t reared on a tough inner city estate and I don’t fall for the Simon Cowell PR/marketing machine, so I get very little from the British charts these days. Comparing the songs from that era to the singles from this album is like puting Manchester United against an Albanian school football team – they just don’t compare.

Lead single ‘The Shock of The Lightning’, bolstered by a staggering two chord changes for the most part, sounds like an idea for a song that still needed to be finalised in rehearsals. ‘I’m Outta Time’ is the only listenable effort here, but it still annoys me because the verse always makes me think I’m listening to Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’. Pleasant chorus though, reminding fans that they could still write the occasional hook when they weren’t sitting by swimming pools guzzling Director’s Bitter.

Apart from sounding like the Beatles and wearing John Lennon spectacles, Liam Gallagher even started to look exactly like George Harrison at one point. On ‘Dig Out Your Soul’, the tribute act was completed with the aping of the rather self-indulgent, ploddy sitar-driven stuff that John, Paul, George and Ringo were experimenting with in the mid–to–late sixties. If it didn’t work for the greatest band to ever set foot in a recording studio, what the fuck was it going to do for Oasis?

Noel Gallagher’s lyrics have always been appalling at the best of times. Incoherent rambling sentences ending in words that mostly rhymed with ‘away’, ‘mind’, ‘far’, ‘you’, ‘me’ and ‘why’, they tended to make even less sense than Kurt Cobain’s insane poetry. This final album didn’t break tradition; the problem was the songs were now as equally terrible as a whole. Before, no one paid much attention because the melodies and singing were so effective.

It’s a shame the band that recorded ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ could end their careers with such an underwhelming collection of crap songs. Even their b-sides collection ‘The Masterplan’ was one of the best from 1998, better than most other bands’ proper efforts. Noel Gallagher was supposed to keep rock ‘n’ roll alive, at least from a Sunday Times supplement point of view. His declining song-writing ability combined with Simon Cowell and increasing levels of illiteracy amongst young people have now rendered the British charts almost unlistenable. And this is even before Liam Gallagher kick starts an inevitable solo career for more cigarette money.

 

Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannon ball, where were you when we were writing shit music?

The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Hooray For Boobies’ (2000) by The Bloodhound Gang

29 Jan

By Slick Nick

Setting out with good intentions but then making a shit album is bad enough, but hey, we’re all human and not everyone can be as gifted as John Lennon or Rod Stewart when it comes to crafting unforgetable music. But when a band knowingly records an album of rubbish, then uses the resources and talents of top music industry figures to put it on compact disc for all eternity, that is slightly less forgivable.

Incase the album title doesn’t give it away, rest assured that Bloodhound Gang were not a group that took themselves overly seriously. This was an album full of jokes that would only appeal to the most loathsome of pubescents at best, and at worst, your Dad.

Like a lot of the worst albums ever made, ‘Hooray For Boobies’ encompasses an eclectic range of musical genres. Pop-punk at heart but with cod metal tendencies, the Gang were shrewd enough to ensure they remained current at the time by sprinkling the odd rap break and dance beat across their work. Case in point: hit single ‘The Bad Touch’, which sticks out like a lump of dogshit hanging from someone’s shoe, as well as being reminiscent of the theme tune to the long-forgotten Clothes Show.

One of my pet hates with albums in general is the use of non-musical filler, for example sound samples at the beginning of songs, spoken word clips taken from TV shows and movies, lengthy feedback (with a couple of exceptions) and entire songs used solely for non-musical ‘comedic’ purposes. Five of ‘Hooray For Boobies’ eighteen tracks fit into the latter category, plus there are various spoken word clips littered throughout. So apart from the music being terrible, the whole ordeal of listening to this reord is made all the more painful and drawn out by these techniques.

The production here is a joke, sounding like the instruments were recorded in someone’s garden shed with equipment from Argos. I have no problem with a band looking for a raw, stripped down sound if it suits their music, but when you’re making a pop album for the radio with the backing of a major label behind you, you’d better make sure you don’t come out of the recording studio with anything less than a polished, chunky and aesthetically pleasing sound at the very least.

This album teaches a fundamental life truth about music though – if it’s a terrible gimick, expect it to sell shitloads. If it’s a terrible gimick that features songs about burping and tits, with swear words censored in the videos, then expect it to sell shitloads and constantly permeate your everyday existence. Fucking forget escaping it for even one day unless you plan on spending some time alone in a padded cell. You can’t get away from it. Just suck it up, take it on the chin and make sure to have some decent ‘antidote’ music handy to soothe the agony. I’d recommend anything by the Ramones, Ten Yard Fight and Dire Straits, off the top of my head.

These chaps were a fair few years from being the stereotypical ‘just out of high school and arsing around before getting a proper job in IT sales‘ types at the time of recording this CD. I don’t believe for one second that singer/song-writer Jimmy Pop wasn’t a cold and calculating musical prodigy who knew damn well what he was doing when he wrote these crap songs in his late twenties. He spotted a gap in the market and filled it with ‘Hooray For Boobies’, and ever since has probably enjoyed a carefree existence, listening to the great symphonies of Bach, Mozart and Pachelbel on a $30,000 stereo whilst sitting on a beanbag stuffed entirely of money in a Beverly Hills mansion. The cunt.

 

Mum and Dad this is Chasey, Chasey this is the shit music that will help put my kids through college.

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