Awful - Hole (mp3)
Ballpark figure, I've added more than 700 songs to my music collection in just the past year. By contrast, in the early part of this decade, I was generally buying an album a month, sometimes less. Maybe 100-150 songs a year. So I've easily quintupled the amount of music I'm buying/acquiring since Bob and I started this blog.
Anytime you acquire that much music over such a small period of time, it's unreasonable to expect to be completely happy with every purchase. Sometimes, what will one day become a favorite album is originally acquired at a time when it doesn't touch the right nerve for you, and it lingers unappreciated on your digital shelf. But other times, you buy something with enthusiasm or interest, give the thing a half-dozen spins into your eardrums, and watch as it quickly fades into the ether. It probably doesn't suck; it's just not all that great, or it's not what you had hoped it would be. That is to say, it just disappoints.
Here are just four of my disappointing purchases from the past year:
- Cheap Trick's latest album, The Latest (Amazon - $8.99) -- This isn't a bad album. Some songs are darn catchy. But I guess there's nothing in there that I haven't heard before, and it's mostly variations on a beloved theme, but one I've practically memorized. It's like someone riffing on a new version of "Chopsticks."
- Colin Hay's Are You Lookin' At Me? -- Hay's Going Somewhere is precisely one of those records that sat gathering dust on my shelf for several years before a chance encounter inspired me to give it another spin, and that second go-round found Colin speaking to me very directly in some ways. I found out about this album a year late, but whatever connection I felt with his previous album is almost completely absent this time around. It's busier, trying harder to be clever, and less intense.
- White Rabbits' It's Frightening -- This is a decent album. Nothing bad about it, really. Some good songs. But I listen to it and think... SPOON. I might not be right about that, and it might not be fair, but that's the beauty of owning our own opinions.
- U2's No Line on the Horizon -- If you need an explanation, you didn't listen to the album.
Five years after buying it, hearing their name still makes me bristle. I can't even listen to the couple of songs off the album that I thought were OK, because hearing them just reminds me that I wasted $10 to buy the whole damn miserable thing.
That my anger about this has flown way beyond rational proportions is without question. There's absolutely no reason to get all that upset. I've had dozens of meals that cost me more than $10 and sucked a lot worse than Franz Ferdinand. Hell, I've bought other albums that were worse than Franz Ferdinand.
Yet this album sticks out so far beyond the pale of badness in my mind.
Why?? Truth is, I'm not sure. Maybe it's because all these people kept telling me how awesome it was. Maybe it's because it was so critically acclaimed. Maybe it's because their first single seemed so catchy and clever. All I know is that, after five or six listens, I was fighting my dislike of their music much like I imagine a gay teenager fights admitting that he or she is gay. I knew deep down in my heart that I disliked the album, but I just couldn't bring myself to admit it. So I kept listening, kept trying to find ways to like it. In the end, all this did was make me hate Franz Ferdinand even more.
When their sophomore album tanked, I took unusual and cruel joy in their tanking.
Maybe some of y'all are, but I'm not a guy who roots against artists very often. Music is like the PGA. Musicians aren't competing against one another. Golfers compete against the course, and musicians compete against the culture and the creative curve and their own inner demons. It's difficult for me to root against anyone in that line of work.*
So why such vitriol against Franz Ferdinand?
Honestly, I don't really know. I only know their music annoys me and that everytime I recall paying actual spendable cash for the ability to own their music, I throw up in my mouth a little.
Anyone else have this experience, perhaps not with Franz, but with another artist or band? I'd love to know.
* -- Britney Spears and other "artists" whose sole job is to be an almost mindless and thoughtless thoroughfare for other people's writing and musical vision and production values are not Musicians. They are very crafty and successful prostitutes, or mannequins with voices. This isn't me being snotty. It's me acknowledging the difference between someone who creates and someone through whom others create. This is precisely why so many successful actors dream of being musicians, because they sense the freedom to express themselves as opposed to playing a role handed to them by others. (And, likewise, famous "musicians" often become actors because they find it easier to play a role than to maintain a unique voice.)