Monday, December 5, 2011

It's not that you're bad..you're just not very good

So by demand, popular or otherwise, it has been suggested to some extent by someone somewhere, that we take some more shots at bad artists. I feel this is habit forming, so we will oblige, but with a slight spin and with an understanding that it is end of year and generally speaking, most music blogs and sites should be celebrating the best of the 2011 and only mildly chirping the bad, the ugly and the overrated.

This time, we will take fewer direct shots at bad artists, but rather highlighting artists who are, in this writer's opinion, very overrated. Again, because Rattled By The Rush cares so frigging much, we will suggest alternatives. It hurts to care so much quite frankly.

Kings of Leon

Generally speaking I find cocaine to be about as classless and overtly poserish and contrived an activity as any that the simplest of humans choose to engage. In the case of KOL, it would appear they started to actually suck more once they got off the coke. Time to line back up lads.

They were not always necessarily a bad band. Their first two albums appeared at face value to have a reasonable sincerity and southern inspired indie esthetic that was both endearing and promising of things to come. You almost would not have known they were on RCA or were about to turn into such a household phenomenon.

To be honest, I stopped largely paying attention after Aha Shake Heartbreak and all the garbage they have produced since may have even tarnished the early material. I can barely even go back to the glory days at this point without cringing somewhat. It seems with every album and every single they add, these guys sound more and more forced. Like popularity is slipping and holy crap boys this needs to be a big hit. Press record, press print, get on the bus, cash the cheques.

I actually thought I was the only one, until I saw this piece in NME where the kid from The Drums (a far superior band in every way) suggested KOL should break up and that "Sex On Fire" is one of the worst songs he had ever heard. Amen young Jonathan Pierce. Would you like a job writing for Rattled By The Rush? The pay is shit, but the grand standing from the safety of behind a keyboard is terribly therapeutic and validating.

So there are worse bands than Kings of Leon, but that doesn't mean they are good. If people feel compelled to listen to an East Central southern twang inspired US band, I would hope they would reach for My Morning Jacket by now. If Kings of Leon are supremely overrated and really not very good, than it should follow that MMM are very underrated and more than interesting enough to entice even the most mildly critical and casual music fan.


Drake


I love that he's Canadian. He seems like a pretty great kid. He has solid capability and even a unique flow and delivery. So why does he keep making such bad music? Right off the bat, some will say I'm the 40 year old cranking on the kid because "you don't get it". Fair game. Let's do some comparatives.

Here's a lyric sample from "Best I Ever Had"

I say you the fucking best, you the fucking best
You the fucking best, you the fucking best
You the best I ever had, best I ever had
Best I ever had, best I ever had



I am not offended by profanity. Not in the fucking least. I am however, offended by ill conceived juvenile lyrics that don't seem to serve any purpose other than to entice white suburban kids to giggle at the slightest mention of F Bombs and someone describing the ranking of their sexual exploits.


Here's a lyric sample from "Calculated Amalgamation" by Pharoahe Monche


Rebels, so please believe it'sWar on the streets of Egyptmy vocals a total eclipse of totalitarianismYou seek to mistreat usSo this is calculated amalgamation


Ok, so Drake's 25 and Monche is like 39. Conceivably he could have more to rhyme about eventually than girls and other Degrassi inspired juvenilia. So let's give him the benefit


From HYFR (with some help from an even more overrated Lil Wayne):


(And I say) Hell yeah. Hell yeah. F*ckin right. F*ckin right, all right.
(And I say) Hell yeah. Hell yeah. F*ckin right. F*ckin right, all right. 


So if you rhyme along to this on your own or with your drunk friends at a party, I probably can't help you because there is a better than average chance you are a complete and utter moron. I love simplistic lyrics and champion the three minute pop song more than most. Clever however is the differentiator and this is not clever. 


So again, to be fair, let us assume Drake has good skills and the best production team money can buy at his disposal, but he is simply writing about what 25 year old dudes write about. Then how is it that a 28 year old hip-hop artist from the same province can have a little bit more to say:


From "Keep Shining" by Shad:


And I’ve been known to talk about women on a track or two
I talk to women, I just can’t talk for women, that’s for you
We need women for that, more women in rap
Even tracks like Kwali’s Four Women. That’s still only half the view of the world
There’s no girls rappin’ so we’re only hearin’ half the truth. What we have to lose?



So am I tired of hearing about Drake? Yeah, a little. If credible music critics and sites want to continue to over hype and put this kid on a pedestal, it's cool. At least he is a successful young Canadian. Let's just not pretend he has chosen to say anything interesting with his new found stardom and reach, and let's once again take some time to explore far superior artists who are working really hard to make art that isn't rooted in hype, slick tricks and very little class.



Foster The People


Holy crap, how did these guys get so big? We saw them open for Cut Copy in the Summer just as a couple of their singles had broken. I think "Pumped Up Kicks" has some 48 million views on YouTube currently. The live show was enjoyable. Much like their album (which I bought incidentally). Sometimes enjoyable is sufficient. I am as guilty as anyone for validating disposable pleasant pop music. Every now and then though, something takes off and we all need to grab the reigns and put things back in their forgettable and disposable perspective.


Part of what I find most troubling is the bands FTP have puposely or accidentally chosen to emulate. Some songs sound like Maroon 5, and there's a previous blog entry which should sufficiently address what a bad fucking idea that is. Then there's the MGMT factor. I will say they are not alone in aping everyone's safe little late blooming one album wonder darlings. 


I think it is the combination of such mediocre influences that I find perplexing. Steal from others. Absolutely. Knock yourself out kids. The Beatles did it, Coldplay does it, but Maroon 5 and MGMT? For real? Honestly no one is stopping you from ripping off whoever you want and this is the best you could come up with? "Lads we should make songs that sound like an uninterstiung hybrid of shitty groups like Maroon 5 and MGMT". You don't have to steal from Radiohead or The Smiths boys, but set your sights a little higher.


So I congratulate these kids with my most perplexed crinkled brow. Bank the cash because it's very likely your sophomore album will tank and be almost as artistically vacant as MGMT's.


MGMT


Please refer Foster The People rant. MGMT are not very good. Please move along.