At long last, the wait is over. Eminem
has finally shined a light at the end of the tunnel for Revival
, and it seems that we'll finally be seeing the new album drop on December 15. In a video posted on Dr. Dre's Instagram, a yuppie-looking pseudo-pharmaceutical rep stands before us, delivering good news for those that suffer from the made up condition of "Atrox rithimus", which a loose/bad translation of "bad rhythm". The whole thing is as corny as all get-out, and I at least appreciate the fact that actor breaks the fourth wall and recognizes how corny it is, while promising that it's the last you'll see of him.
The premise of announcing an album as a cure for a medical condition, complete with made up conditions, fake pharmaceutical companies, and advertisements is about as cheesy as it gets, and I'm still undecided on whether or not I think this is a low in branding for Em, or whether it's exactly what I should expect from him. Either way, it's not the first time an artist took a gimmicky approach toward releasing an album, and listed here are some of the worst offenders.
1. The Flaming Lips - Zaireeka
In 1997, The Flaming Lips released the incredibly unique and weird Zaireeka
. I call the album weird not only because it was a noise and drone-rock mess, but because in order to play it, you had to buy a boxset containing 4 CDs or LPs that contained a part of a track, then sync the four pieces together in order to hear the full song. If you were a social outcast and didn't have any friends, then by the time you got each individual record playing, they would be out of sync, and the cacophony of noise that was Zaireeka
would only sound more out of whack. Which, incidentally, is a good way to describe Zaireeka
2. Jack White - Blunderbuss
Beside being a massive headache for manufacturers and store owners every Record Store Day, Jack White also appreciates a good gimmick. In anticipation of the release of his debut solo album Blunderbuss
, White commissioned 1,000 vinyl copies of the single "Freedom at 21" to be distributed, via balloon. Like a scene out of UP, helium balloons were attached to each record and allowed to set sail, going wherever Mother Nature dictated. Naturally, the vast majority were lost to the wild, though those that have been recovered were either saved, or sold online for a very pretty penny.
3. Beck - Song Reader
I'm actually kind of mad at Beck for how lazy this gimmick is. In 2012, Beck released Song Reader
, an album that was, well, not really an album at all. Instead, it was a collection of songs arranged as sheet music, available for ambitious listeners and artists to pick up and play themselves, thus ensuring that depending on skill level and approach, the songs would always sound just a little bit different. While there was eventually a recorded release of the album, it was a compilation of other artists playing the songs, with only one song played by Beck himself.
4. Radiohead - In Rainbows
So this one's actually pretty feel-good. Radiohead challenged the status quo of the record industry in 2007 with the release of In Rainbows
by introducing the "honesty box". Fans were allowed to pay what they wished for the album, and in a surprise twist, the band actually made a profit on it. It's been a polarizing issue ever since, with plenty of people saying the band encouraged illegal downloading with the gimmick, but the undeniable fact of the matter is that it did help upset the applecart of the "pay a fixed price for everything" model that had reigned before it.
5. Mogwai - "Tracy"
This one is another case of "okay, that's actually kind of cool". Most times, when a band releases an anniversary re-release, it comes out as a special edition vinyl, or slightly remastered file. But post-rock legends Mogwai took the gimmick a step further with the 10-year-anniversary release of their single "Tracy" by releasing the track on a windup music box. That's right, one of the little machines that is usually played by the ghost of a murdered Victorian child in some horror movie right before the vengeful spirit pops out of the closet. While it lacks most all of the experience of actually hearing the song, it is a pretty neat physically memento to hold on to.
6. Gaye Bykers on Acid - Drill Your Own Hole
Well, that band name and album title certainly are a bit, uhhh, suggestive to say the least. But fortunately Drill Your Own Hole
wasn't as NSFW as the name might imply. Instead, the first 1,000 copies of the vinyl release were pressed without a center hole to set the record on. Thus, if you actually wanted to give the record a listen, you'd have to have the D.I.Y. spirit and know how to drill one yourself without shattering the record.