Reviewer shares opinion on worst albums of 2009
April 30, 2009
Last week, I provided a list of albums that I considered to be the cream of the crop so far in 2009. For my final review of the semester, I thought it would only be fitting (and fun) to look at the other side of the coin: the bad, the worse, the downright horrific and “Chinese Democracy,” which resides in a special circle of music hell. The following is a sampling of (in my opinion) the worst “albums” of the past academic year.
Guns ‘N Roses—“Chinese Democracy”: It feels awkward to even categorize this album under “Guns ‘N Roses,” as Izzy, Duff and Slash have all long-since moved on. Rose sings like it hurts, his voice a desperate, pathetic echo of the youthfully exuberant howls that made him famous in his younger days. Did I mention that there is no Slash? After listening to flaccid, distracted tracks like “This I Love” and “Sorry,” it is clear that all the reasons Guns ‘N Roses were worshiped 20 years ago have long since evaporated, leaving only an egomaniacal, attention-starved 47-year old burnout who has rewarded the endless patience of his fans with a collection of over-produced tracks that all fail miserably. After years of anticipation, “Chinese Democracy” turned out to be worth less than the free Dr. Pepper promotion that came with its release.
Nickelback—“Dark Horse”: Possessing creative songwriting skills of a three-year-old and the lyrical prowess of Barney the Dinosaur, Chad Kroeger and his fellow bandmates continue on their never-ending goal to record the lamest rock album in history. No small feat, but they are rapidly approaching the top of the mountain. “Dark Horse” is littered with ridiculous clichés and ignorant, Neanderthal choruses (“S is for the simplety / E is for the ecstasy / X is just to mark the spot”), all of which are topped off by the painfully obvious fact that none of the band members know how to play their instruments. Given a guitar, drum set or microphone, Terri Schiavo could do a better job.
Various Artists—“Johnny Cash: Remixed”: If there is anything more insulting to a the man in black than having his iconic career masterpiece, “I Walk The Line,” remixed featuring the vocals of Snoop Dogg, I can’t think of it. If that sounds bad, then an electro-infused shakeup of “Folsom Prison Blues” will have your gag reflex doing cartwheels. This project takes juxtaposition and creative initiative way too far, and comes across as the ultimate sick joke. The sad truth is that his son, John Carter Cash, was the creative force behind “Remixed,” and should be thrown in a gulag for committing such an unspeakable atrocity.
Asher Roth—“Asleep in the Bread Aisle”: All right, this final pick is probably too easy, but it’s perfectly justified. The subject matter of Roth’s first single, “I Love College,” which (for whatever reason) has been occupying a lofty spot on radio playlists reveals that he probably loved college a little too much and got an academic suspension after a freshman year. For someone who claims to value higher education so much, his rhymes are surprisingly elementary. The rest is mid-numbingly dull, and only gets worse as Roth emerges from the haze of weed that surrounds most of the content. “We go hungry in our own country / I wonder what it’s like living in Hungary,” he muses. Lazy, repetitive and completely lifeless.
Andrew Phelps is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.