Hey guys! I know the fourth installments of everything (Batman and Robin, Star Wars Episode I, Spiderman 4: Fire Everyone) tend to be scrutinized heavily, so bear with me. I tried to pick a really excitingly bad record to avoid this. There will be no Jar Jars, mass firings, or nipple suits. But there WILL be blood? Yes. In my brain.
Before we delve into the auditory beating that I inflicted upon myself this time (and who thought it could be worse than rapping about mashed potaterrible?), let's get a few things straight about our terminology.
It has come to my attention that Professor Dictionary is more astute than the other people that read this site (e.g. My Dad). Yes, the term "record," although loosely used as slang for "album," technically refers to a single record of one song, based on the fact that records also refer to LP's, and whatever, but I plead the SLANG on this one. Look people, if I wanted to sit here and argue about the difference between the "record" and the "album," I'd go back to my content creation class in college and/or stop putting nails in my ears for your enjoyment. (FULL DISCLOSURE: No one called me on this, I'm just saying, don't). So for the purposes of the quest, please allow me to use "record" and "album" interchangeably. I am fully aware of their respective derivations and dictionary definitions.
Now, let's move on.
Obviously, I have been going easy on myself. I've ignored THE one mega-giant blemish on the face of music to ever exist (according to the tight-pants tribune). Now I am not sure I agree, never having bought into the monster, ever, or even listened to any of their stuff except what was on the radio or in Spiderman 2, but people seem to think this is the absolute worst, and it is my duty to find out why.
In a way, this isn't as bad as listening to the blood-splatter of several horrible songs, because this artist really just writes a bunch of the same songs. So you know what to expect and what not to expect (variety).
You must know what I'm talking about by now. It is really a taboo thing to be touching, let alone crafting a study on... this band has been the subject of much musical scrutiny, especially by kids with Youtube mashup capabilities and guys who really like Radiohead. I mean this band is the opposite of Radiohead in so many ways. They have a very static sound. They look like dweebs who think they look fly, even while shopping at a Piggly Wiggly for diapers. It is INCREDIBLY UNCOOL to like them. They even made an album called Adult Z (no they didn't). And instead of shattering our preconceived notions of rock music, it confirmed that rock music is boring. We are going to discuss Adult Z today.
Now I know this particular disc has sold over five million units worldwide. AND THAT IS SO GREAT! But if Hitler sold five million records, he'd STILL BE HITLER so why is that an excuse people use for how great these guys are? I am trying to be impartial, but I mean, come on! The quality of this album can be boiled down to how hard I needed to Google to find evidence against it. Observe:
Guys, the first result is labeled "scientific proof." Case dismissed. Let's leave the change, and all go to our beach houses on our vampire weekend and have a King Khan and BBQ BECAUSE I DO NOT WANT ANY NICKELS BACK. EVER.
But just for sha-giggles, let's talk about it.
NOMINEE #4: Silver Side Up, Nickelback (2001)
I listened to the entire thing in one sitting.
To borrow a famous quote:
First, let's hear from the defense. Digg commenter WATYF, take it away.
"From a musician's perspective, this type of criticism is ridiculous. Every vocalist has a range, which means many of their songs will be in similar keys. Also, there is a relatively small set of common chord patterns that are used in most rock/pop music. (1-5-6-4, 6-4-1-5, et al). If you pitch and tempo shifted them, I guarantee that you could lay a very good number of your favorite songs over each other and they would sound disturbingly similar. Standard verse/chorus/bridge lengths are very common (8 bars, 16 bars, etc) because they sound good to the human ear. There's really nothing "sucky" about it. Remember... there are only 12 notes in total. There's only so much you can do with that that's different (without it being weird just for the sake of being different).
Lastly, I've never quite understood the rabid amount of Nickelback hatred. Granted, I'm no fan, but I don't foam at the mouth every time I hear their music either. Getting so incredibly bent out of shape over music you don't like just doesn't really make sense to me. I mean... It's just a matter of taste... why would anyone get worked up over a personal preference? That's as silly as getting bent out of shape over food that you don't like. "GOD! I HATE ONIONS! THEY SUCK SOOOO BAD! ANYONE WHO LIKES ONIONS IS A FREAKING RETARD!!! SERIOUSLY!!! YOU SUCK!!!"...... see how dumb that sounds? If you don't like it, just don't listen to it."
Fair enough, Professor Music, PhD. But in the art of open criticism, when one is actively seeking the worst turds to populate your local FYE, well, then we have to listen to it! I had to listen to it! Also Onions never made terrible albums. Cry For Me by The Onions never charted. So leave The Onions out of this! Cry baby!
Beyond that, what is said here is very true, to a point. Yes, these combinations of chords and melody sound "good" to the "human ear" but just because something jives with our natural inclination to musical harmony, doesn't make it "good" artistically or even acceptable to rewrite similar songs over and over. No one is going to release an album of dissonant noises that will make people vomit or throw up or sh*t their pants (unless you are a 20th century composer searching for the mysterious and grossly named brown note). Just because it isn't avant garde or classical-weirdo, doesn't mean your rock has to be generic, or about "tough life issues" like having a lady wig and getting booed off stage in Barcelona by rocks.
"Boooooooooooo" - Rocks.
I can't resist observing the irony that Nickelback didn't enjoy having the very thing they claim to be thrown at their faces. Get it? You get it. Hard rock(s).
But I am being unfair! That video was from 2007! We are only discussing one album, and it was released on 9/11/2001 (THAT IS FACT). The album that has a silver tear drop (because poetry is deeper than blood). Huh? Mercury tears. Kind of like how I felt when I first heard it, sad and alone in a thermometer, like I'd never see my puppy. I don't even have a puppy! Or a thermometer!
So let's talk about each track individually, keeping in mind the intricacies of songwriting, instrumentation, and rock aesthetics. This portion was written in real time, with real thoughts, and totally unedited.
1. "Never Again" - Not totally terrible, just a guitar driven rock riff with lyrics about a girl. Kind of generic, but I can see how someone would hear this and get pumped to have a Saturday night of drinking gasoline and burning the Chinese flag.
2. "This Is How You Remind Me" - Ah yes. The classic tune. Their biggest radio hit, a guitar driven rock riff with lyrics about a girl and some mild drinking. Uses some of the same rhymes. Someone should tell them "story" and "sorry" don't rhyme in conventional English. Contains sophisticated back-to-back monosyllabic cries of "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! No, No! (maybe, might be "Nah," these guys can't pronounce anything!)
3. "Woke Up This Morning" - Starting to get suspicious, first song is "Never Again," second is about alcohol abusing, third has cries of "I hating all of this." Are they trying to tell me something? Anyway, this is another guitar driven rock riff that might be about a girl, I'm not sure. First appearance of tasteful "radio filter" on Chad's voice. #letsdrinksomemoregasoline
4. "Too Bad" - Whoa. Oh wait this was on the radio too, right? They really tricked me with the intro, because it sounded like it was going to be all different, but then it was a rock riff about a girl. There is a guitar solo that sounds a little like cerebral palsy, that is about the most exciting thing in this little diddy. Someone call an Wah-mbulance, because we're going into cardi-rock arrest! (puns made at an equal or greater skill lever than songwriting for consistency).
5. "Just For" - This sounds like a Hoobastank song? I kind of liked them until they made that God awful song "The Reason" that everyone loved. I taught this girl that song on guitar when I was giving guitar lessons because she loved it, and she learned it really well, but her parents fired me because she would just sit around playing "The Reason" all day and that is some torture! True story. I'm skipping this song.
6. "Hollywood" - I'm not totally sure he is in the right key on this one, but God bless him for trying! Also this one appears to not be all about a girl, but a dream or something. FULL DISCLOSURE: I am very tired, I've been up all morning since like 4 AM and it is 5ish PM, and I kind of fell asleep during this song, and Lala will only let me listen once (you think I'd buy this?) and my Uncle has been shot, and lots of other excuses to not have to listen to this again. Please.
7. "Money Shot" - 1: The way that the drums and the guitars clash in this song makes me uncomfortable. 2: The phrase "Money Shot" makes me uncomfortable. 3: The line "never pleasured from the treasure in a garbage can" makes me uncomfortable. 4: This song might be about porn.
8. "Where Do I Hide" - This one starts off with a hot riff (not unlike all the other tracks) and then leads into Chad talking about a criminal record. So it's totally relateable, America! Ha, looking for a scapegoat. Let's blame this album on someone else. Is it over yet?
9. "Hangnail" - Sounds like a bunch of other tracks cut up and filtered in certain places with the rhythms slightly reversed. I keep looking around nervously, wondering if someone can hear what I've been listening to for the past forty minutes. I am embarassed.
10. "Good Times Gone Bad" - What the f**k is this?
There you go! I actually listened to the entire thing, and it was pretty terrible! But it wasn't the worst, and here is why:
It is INCREDIBLY repetitive and unoriginal, yes, but having a bunch of carbon copy, formulaic songs worked for other people (like early Beatles, The Spice Girls, etc) so you can't fault them for that. And despite the fact that the singing makes me feel like a child molester, it isn't bad, its just boring and frighteningly disengaged.
It is kind of like watching Sesame Street as an adult, learning something rudimentary you didn't know before, and being happy about it. There. Perfect.
Remember, send your NOMs to firstname.lastname@example.org. The hunt continues with your help, and my disgust. Please don't send me copies of Adult ZSilver Thermometer Tears. I never want to hear another Kroegerism as long as I breathe. I think I'm going to roofie myself so I forget the past three hours. See you next time, Planateers! -joe puglisi