HEY. SO I FOUND OUT THIS NEW THING THAT’S GOING TO MAKE ME A MUCH BETTER WRITER THAN I WAS BEFORE. IT’S CALLED CAPS LOCK. HAVE YOU HEARD OF IT?
CAPS LOCK IS LIKE MAGIC, ONLY BETTER. YOU MAY NOT HAVE NOTICED, BUT I’M USING IT RIGHT NOW. WHAT IT DOES IS IT MAKES LETTERS BIGGER, BECAUSE IT CAPITALIZES ALL OF THEM. AND YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO WASTE TIME TRYING TO REMEMBER WHICH WORDS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE CAPITALIZED, LIKE IS IT THE FIRST OR THE SECOND WORD OF EACH SENTENCE OR WHICH STATES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE CAPITALIZED AND DO I DO IT WITH EVERYBODY’S NAME OR JUST PEOPLE THAT I LIKE. NO NEED TO WORRY, BECAUSE YOU’RE CAPITALIZING GODDAMN EVERYTHING, SO YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO STOP AND THINK. YOU CAN JUST KEEP WRITING. WHICH IS COOL.
SO HERE’S HOW IT WORKS. LOOK DOWN AT YOUR KEYBOARD. THERE’S THIS BUTTON ON THERE THAT SAYS CAPS LOCK. PRESS THAT BUTTON. NOW EVERYTHING YOU TYPE IS BETTER. BECAUSE IT’S BIGGER, AND IF THINGS ARE BIGGER, THEY’RE HARDER TO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO. LIKE THIS GUY I KNOW WHO EVERYONE LISTENS TO BECAUSE HE’S SCREAMING ALL THE TIME. IT’S REALLY HARD TO IGNORE HIM, SO NOBODY DOES. I WANT TO BE JUST LIKE THAT GUY.
YOU MIGHT BE FINDING ALL THIS HARD TO BELIEVE, BUT IT TURNS OUT I HAVE PROOF. CHECK OUT THIS PHOTO THAT OPENED UP MY EYES.
YEAH, SEE? I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON HERE, BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER. BECAUSE IT’S BREAKING NEWS AND IT’S ALL CAPS FOR THE HEADER, AND ALL CAPS FOR THE SUBHEAD. THE BREAKING NEWS IS THAT IT’S ALL CAPS. ALL CAPS. THAT IS BREAKING NEWS!
SO YOU’RE LAUGHING NOW, BUT YOU WON’T BE LATER, BECAUSE I SWEAR TO GOD. BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET WILL BE WRITING JUST LIKE THIS. EVERY EMAIL FORWARD YOU GET FROM YOUR PARENTS WILL BE IN ALL CAPS. EVERY COMPLAINT LETTER YOUR GRANDMOTHER WRITES TO WAL-MART WILL BE IN ALL CAPS. CAPS LOCK IS WHAT WILL MAKE OUR LIVES BETTER.
GET IN ON THE CRAZE RIGHT NOW. DO IT. OR SO HELP ME.
Journey with me back to the hallowed days of 2004. You may recall that was the year we were all doing a dance called the Funky Armadillo and a handful of horse feed was only a buck and a hay penny. But what also happened in that year I don’t remember all that well was a fellow by the name of Jay Leno who was, at the time, the host of the Tonight Show for some stupid reason, made an announcement that he was going to retire in the year 2009 and hand over the reins of the Tonight Show to Conan O’Brien. I still recall the day very well, sitting at the same desk that I’m sitting at right now, and the two thoughts I had that day: 1) You mean to tell me that in only five years, I can watch Conan at 10:30 each night and not have to ever see Jay Leno ever again? This is the greatest news ever! and 2) There is no way Jay Leno is retiring in five years.
I hate being right.
If I have to recap the late night situation for you, you either aren’t paying attention or you have your priorities straight and are paying more attention to the crisis in Haiti. If it’s the latter, bully. Please send them money. But either way, I don’t feel any pressing need to break down what’s happening. What I can say is this: There is only one good thing coming out of Conan O’Brien being forced out of the Tonight Show after only seven months and it is this: The world can finally see Jay Leno for the disingenuous piece of dog crap that he’s always been.
I think we can all agree that there is something seriously wrong in a world where Jay Leno can almost single-handedly destroy an entire network and Conan O’Brien is the one looking for a new job. And that’s the thing that should be mentioned in every single story on the subject of the Conan situation: This is all Jay Leno’s fault. He was the one who said five years ago, whether it was his idea or not, that he was leaving his job. He was the one who then undermined his replacement by agreeing to do a late night talk show in prime time. He was the one who, rather than provide the completely revamped show experience that he promised, instead delivered a watered-down, rearranged format of the same Tonight Show he’d been doing for the last seventeen years that nobody wanted to watch. And now, rather than accept the fact that he didn’t deliver, rather than live up to the promise he made five years ago, he is the one who has no shame whatsoever in going along with the idiot network executives’ idea to jam him back into late night, popular opinion be damned.
Jay Leno failed. And it’s Jay Leno who deserves to pay the price for that. Not Conan O’Brien, and not the people who work for Conan.
And on top of all that, besides Jay Leno being a weasel, a kiss-ass, and a generally despicable human being, he’s also apparently the world’s stupidest human being. Because only the world’s stupidest human being would have willingly walked right into this:
What you just witnessed there, if you didn’t know, was Jay Leno attempting to “put Jimmy Kimmel in has place” after Kimmel spent his entire show on Tuesday dressed up as Jay and ridiculing Jay. Because Jay Leno feels he needs to do that, being the king of late night and all. Gotta keep the peasants in their place. So there was Jay Leno getting Kimmel back, by letting him come onto his failed prime time show and ridicule him and his inability to sire children to his face while his own audience laughed at him. Sure showed him, didn’t you, Jay?
Here’s hoping Leno gets Letterman to fall in line by having Dave fly to L.A. and punch him in the balls repeatedly.
But here we are, it’s 1992 all over again and Jay Leno is doing the only thing that he’s ever really been any good at – stealing the Tonight Show from someone else more deserving. But to what ends? I just finished talking to my co-worker, the one who loves Leno and hates Conan, and even he doesn’t know what Leno’s game is here. Why take back the Tonight Show when he already walked away from it on top? Is it for his legacy? Can’t be that. This whole disaster is now Leno’s legacy. Is it for the money? He doesn’t need it. He has more money than God or Oprah. So why does Leno willingly make himself America’s most hated monster? Chances are you shouldn’t take my opinion on it, but here it is anyway. Despite all of Leno’s success as Tonight Show host, he still does not hold a candle on the legacy of Johnny Carson. And I don’t think Leno wants to have both his predecessor and his successor end up being more successful than he was. So what’s a guy to do to ensure he doesn’t go down in history as the Tonight Show’s crappiest host? I’ll show you.
Meet your new Tonight Show host, circa 2015 when Leno drops dead behind his desk. Give him one thing, Leno may be a prick, but he’s one sadistic evil genius of a prick.
So, yeah, I don’t like Jay Leno. Which is fine because now, thanks to Jay Leno’s massive ego, nobody else likes him either. And now Conan can move from the fourth place network to the first and maybe even bring back the Masturbating Bear, Letterman can get one last chance to knock Leno on his ass before he retires, and thanks to the dynamite comedic teaming of Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon, I never have to watch NBC ever again. When you think about it that way, everybody’s a winner. Except Jay Leno. Which is just the way things should be.
When you see practically every movie that comes out in theaters like I do (for the complete list see my previous blog), you end up seeing a lot of crap. Some people ask me why I subject myself to pieces of crap like Knowing, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Land of the Lost, 12 Rounds, Bride Wars or The Pink Panther 2 (none of which even make my list!). I answer them simply, “Seeing bad movies helps me appreciate the good ones all the more.”
Plus, if I didn’t see everything, what would I have to snark on?
So, I present for your disapproval, the 10 12 Worst Films of 2009:
These posters should have been warning enough...
10. (tie) The Bracelet of Bordeaux, Gooby & When I Find the Ocean
These three films were all distributed by Monterey Media, each with a one week run. In a foolish attempt to see more than 200 films in 2009, I was seeing everything I could which led me to these three wastes of celluloid. They probably deserve to be higher up (further down?) the list, but because of their minimal distribution, I thought I’d keep them lumped together here at #10, reserving nos. 9-1 for stuff you’ve probably actually heard of. Bracelet is a story that mixes the mafia, dognapping, magical jewelry and the Nazis into one cluster*$@# of a kids’ film; Gooby features Robbie Coltrane & Eugene Levy (cashing their paychecks no doubt) in a film about a young boy whose only friend is a teddy bear who comes to life only to sound like a mildly retarded Shrek; and Ocean follows a young girl as she takes her dog and her pet rabbit on a trip through the 1960s South (ooh! Civil Rights!) to deal with the death of her father (or something). Bracelet was the only film I saw in 2009 to get(all other films on this list got a ) but Gooby was most offensive because it was so polished. How films like this get financing for good cameras and editing while others sit in limbo waiting to be made amazes me.
Skoog and Irena A Hoffman in Transylmania
Ever wonder what would happen if Twilight was Nationally Lampooned? Well, here’s your answer, and it ain’t pretty. A bunch of college kids decide to spend a semester abroad in a Transylvanian castle, because given the choice of Paris, London, Prague or Romania, who wouldn’t choose Romania?! The group of co-eds have every stereotype you’d expect: stoners, nymphos, twin sisters (one naughty, the other nice), jocks and dweebs. Oren Skoog’s Rusty had been chatting it up with a seemingly hott Romanian student, but surprise! she’s actually a hunchback (“Always ask for a full body shot!,” he laments). The castle they are studying at was once home to the evil vampire Count Radu (also played by Skoog) who is determined to reawaken his bride with a magical music box. The school’s dean is a pint-sized man who claims he doesn’t believe in vampires, yet has hired a Van Helsing-like descendant to teach the kids about fencing and stake-wielding. One of the jocks figures he can score by claiming to be a vampire hunter, and gets deputized by this Van Helsing-like teacher to hunt down the returning fiends. The dean is also father to the hunchback and tries to steal a pretty co-ed’s body to transplant his daughter’s head onto. With real twins playing the sisters, one actor playing two roles and that pesky music box possessing another girl whenever it is open, there are enough mistaken identities to make me wonder if the screenwriters were trying to channel Shakespeare. However, I doubt the 21st Century National Lampoon’s writers even know how to spell Shakespeare.
Keaton, Burnett, Coleman, Lynch, Bledel and Zach Gilford in Post Grad
8. Post Grad
Post Grad could have been an interesting look at what faces college students in today’s economy. No longer does a degree and excellent interview skills guarantee anyone a job. Actually, I think it was Alexis Bledel’s Rory on Gilmore Girls who had the interview skills; I think her Ryden here, while intelligent had no common sense actually interviewing without knowing where she was. Ryden’s family, the Malbys, is Quirk with a capital “Q.” Dad (Michael Keaton) is a luggage salesman determined DIY is the only way to get anything done; Mom (Jane Lynch) is the most normal, but still a bit unbelievable; Grandma (Carol Burnett) is obsessed with death, convinced she’s going to kick it any moment; and Brother (Bobby Coleman) wears a sock puppet to his sister’s graduation. We’re supposed to believe Ryden is intelligent, but when she doesn’t get her dream job the week after graduation and she can’t afford that apartment in the city, her life is ruined! The script is horrible, the characters were totally unbelievable, the acting was mediocre (at best). While I loved Bledel’s work on Gilmore Girls, this film did not make me hope for more films in her future…
Stewart and Robert Pattinson in New Moon
7. New Moon
Up until this point, you might be saying to yourself “I’ve never even heard of these movies!,” and you should consider yourself lucky. A lot of them are in and out of theaters before you can bat an eye. However, I’m sure you’ve all heard of my #7, and maybe even a few of you are Team this guy or Team the other one. As for me, I’ll take Harry Potter (hell, I’ll even take Lemony Snicket) over this ridiculous tripe. The teen angst Kristen Stewart emotes here is a bit disturbing when you realize she is a high schooler who is so in love with a several-hundred year old man (sure, sure, in a high schooler’s body) that she can’t even breathe without him. Even more disturbing are the actual middle-aged women in the audience hooting and hollering every time these actual high school boys take their shirts off. Apparently, if your abs are well-defined enough, there’s no need to know how to act–just take off your shirt!
Larter and Elba in Obsessed
To be fair, however, this acting rule doesn’t apply to just underage boys. Ali Larter proves that flashing the goods can help distract from bad acting. In this Fatal Attraction knock-off, Idris Elba plays some successful suit (how do we know he’s successful? He has a huge office and is married to Beyoncé!) who gets Larter as a temp secretary. She quickly becomes [ahem] obsessed with him and misinterprets a bunch of innocent comments to think the two should run off together. Craziness ensues and it all culminates in a house-destroying catfight, which isn’t nearly as exciting as it may sound because it comes at the end of a ridiculous story that is filled with absurd characters who never do anything that makes a bit of sense!
Odette Yustman in The Unborn
5. The Unborn
There’s nothing like a PG-13 horror movie about a high school girl haunted by the spirit of the twin brother she killed in the womb (seen one, seen ‘em all!). Throw in a cheesy opening dream sequence, some Holocaust mythology and a completely pointless exorcism led by Gary Oldman (poor Gary Oldman) and you have the worst horror film of the year. The trailer has every single “scare” that the film tries to pass off (and with the PG-13 rating, these scares suck). I recall sitting in a nearly sold-out showing of this film back in January and the entire theater laughing throughout. It’s pretty bad when your target audience (opening weekend teens ready to be scared) find more Ha’s than Aaah’s!
Nighy in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
4. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
I’ll admit, I haven’t seen either of the previous Underworld films, nor did I even realize this was a prequel to the series, but this Romeo & Juliet story with vampires and werewolves seemed pretty pointless. Are the vampires in the other Underworld films as pathetic as they are here? And I assume that the only reason Bill Nighy and the (usually) excellent Michael Sheen are in this was due to contractual obligations involved from their work on the first one (which might not have been so bad). Basically, you have a bunch of pathetic vampires locked up in their castle with Sheen as this werewolf who protects them during the day from a bunch of other more-evil werewolves during the day. The two (three?) groups have an epic battle that felt a bit reminiscent of some of the Lord of the Ring battles, and in the end some people die. Luckily, it’s the type of movie that is very ephemeral. I can’t recall much of the plot. I do remember wondering when my 92 minutes would be over and I could move on to something better….
Perry in Madea Goes to Jail
3. Madea Goes to Jail
I feel like it just wouldn’t be a “Worst of” list without Tyler Perry. I actually had avoided all of his movies up until MadeaGoes to Jail, but I was faithfully trying to see every movie released in theaters, and every hobby has some downsides, right? I really don’t understand the appeal of these characters. I was always under the impression that African-Americans and Christians were the main components of his target audience. While I get the Christian message about redemption, it’s in a story filled with cursing, sexual jokes and pot smoking. Somehow, I found it difficult to imagine Christians finding this (or his second movie of 2009, I Can Do Bad All By Myself which also features child abuse as comedy) humorous, but a few months ago my parents actually got a free pass for a PPV film from DirecTV. They chose Jail and loved it. I wanted to ask why they enjoyed this “comedy,” but decided to sidestep that conversation where I envisioned eventually mocking their movie choices. But still, it pains me that a movie like this can outperform something like Zombieland in total domestic box office. What is wrong with our country?
Bart the Bear and Grant in Did You Hear About the Morgans?
2. Did You Hear About the Morgans?
I don’t understand how this movie was cast. Did someone actually think that horse face and charming Brit would make for a believable, likable couple? In this film, two New Yorkers are thrown into middle America in some ridiculous Witness Protection plot. Halfway through, I was hoping the killer would find them and kill them just so I could get to my next screening. There’s absolutely no chemistry between these two actors, even during the rekindling of their cold marriage. Hugh Grant seems to phone it in the entire film, making eye contact with Sarah Jessica Parker for approximately 60 seconds total. Mary Steenburgen (looking fantastic) and Sam Elliott (whose mustache looks fantastic) play the couple housing them while deeper covers are developed elsewhere. “Jokes” about guns, Republicans, bear-repellent and serving meat to vegetarians abound. The only tiny bright spot in this film are the scenes involving the couple’s assistants (Elisabeth Moss and Jesse Liebman)—I enjoyed their awkward chemistry, but sadly, their screen time is limited. The coda of the film is one of the most ridiculous endings I can recall in recent cinema.
And the worst film of 2009 is….
Williams and Travolta in Old Dogs
1. Old Dogs
It’s odd how Robin Williams seems to see-saw back and forth between quality and crap. Earlier this year, he was fantastic in World’s Greatest Dad, an odd but touching comedy directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. Then, he stars in this absolute POS that actually features a series of “jokes” revolving around a self-tanning accident that makes Williams look black. John Travolta comes along for the ride, where these 50-something heterolifemates and business partners (and yes the movie stoops to making a “partner” joke) have to babysit 7-year-old twins despite having no parenting experience or knowledge. It’s like two times The Game Plan which ends up being half as funny. This wins the title of Worst Movie of 2009 simply because it is so trite and ridiculous and yet features so many actors who I know can do better. Besides Williams and Travolta, you have Kelly Preston, Lori Loughlin, Seth Green, Bernie Mac (how sad is it that this was his final film?), Matt Dillon, Rita Wilson, Amy Sedaris & Luis Guzmán in this dreck. Can no one in Hollywood read a script and make recommendations to fix it?
Another year has come and gone and I haven’t posted a single sodblog… Luckily, the people who run this site didn’t destroy my username and password, so I’m back to write about the best (and worst) of 2009.
However, I don’t keep a top ten list as I watch everything throughout the year… so I’m stuck looking back on all the films I have seen to try to come up with a top ten. I figured I’d post the list I’m working off of so you can see how hard it is to come up with a top ten:
Here are the 202 films from 2009 that are vying for a coveted position in my Top Ten:
(500) Days of Summer
Aliens in the Attic
All About Steve
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Angels & Demons
Art & Copy
Away We Go
Beaches of Agnes, The
Blind Side, The
Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, The
Bracelet of Bordeaux, The
Brothers Bloom, The
Capitalism: A Love Story
Che: Part One
Che: Part Two
Christmas Carol, A
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D
Coco Before Chanel
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Crank: High Voltage
Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Drag Me To Hell
End of the Line, The
Every Little Step
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Fast & Furious
Final Destination, The
Fourth Kind, The
Friday the 13th
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Girlfriend Experience, The
Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, The
Hannah Montana: The Movie
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Haunting in Connecticut, The
He’s Just Not That Into You
Hotel for Dogs
Hurt Locker, The
I Can Do Bad All By Myself
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell
I Love You, Beth Cooper
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
In the Loop
Invention of Lying, The
Is Anybody There
It Might Get Loud
Julie & Julia
Land of the Lost
Last House on the Left, The
Law Abiding Citizen
Love Happens Lovely Bones, The
Madea Goes to Jail
Me and Orson Welles
Men Who Stare at Goats, The
Monsters vs Aliens 3D
My Bloody Valentine 3D
My Life in Ruins
My One and Only
My Sister’s Keeper
New in Town
New Moon, The Twilight Saga
Next Day Air
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Not Easily Broken
Observe and Report
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Perfect Getaway, A
Pink Panther 2, The
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Princess and the Frog, The
Race to Witch Mountain
Rudo y Cursi
Serious Man, A
Single Man, A
State of Play
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, The
This Is It
Time Traveler’s Wife, The
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Ugly Truth, The
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Up in the Air
When I Find the Ocean
Where the Wild Things Are
World’s Greatest Dad
X Games 3D: The Movie
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg
There are two films on this list that I haven’t actually seen yet–It’s Complicated (released last week) and The Lovely Bones (releasing wide two weeks from yesterday). As I stall waiting for The Lovely Bones to come out near me, I figured I’d give my thoughts about the acting I’ve seen this year. With the official Oscar nominations less than a month away, I figured I’d let you know who I think was best in each category (with apologies to Ms. Streep, Ms. Ronan, Mr. Tucci et al for being skipped over), along with their odds of being nominated.
Best Supporting Actress
Mo'Nique as Mary
As I watched Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, I had trouble remembering this horrible excuse for a mother was once upon a time Jamique from Soul Plane. Mo’Nique really disappeared into her role (and anyone who has seen it knows how difficult that would be). During the final scene where she tries to explain the hows and whys of it all, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for her despite the horrors she was admitting to. I think she’s a lock for her nomination and a strong contender for the actual Oscar.
Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa
This was a tough one for me, but I’m guessing my second choice (Christian McKay’s excellent portrayal of Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles) may be tainted since I just saw the film last week. I remember loving Waltz’s work this summer in Inglourious Basterds so I’m sure my love for Waltz has simply waned over time so McKay gets silver. Waltz is both menacing and mesmerizing as the Nazi colonel, from his opening scene where he describes why he deserves the nickname “Jew Hunter”, to one of his final scenes where he learns the phrase isn’t “That’s a bingo!” This is another lock for nomination and a probable win as well (sorry McKay).
Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther
This was another tough category, but unlike the Supporting Actor it wasn’t because I had another close call, but I struggled to think of ANYone. I’d wager Streep’s performance in Julie & Julia will get a nod, but I personally wasn’t a fan. I almost went with Bullock’s accent in The Blind Side, but in the end remembered the best part of a mediocre movie, Orphan. I won’t spoil the ending, but anyone who’s seen this film knows that this 11-year-old has some great talent—she plays scary and sweet to perfection. However, this is one pick I doubt the Academy will notice.
Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell
Rockwell gives not one, but two fantastic performances in Moon, a little film released back in June. Sadly, there is a lot of talk about how the studios aren’t sending Moon screeners to Academy voters due to the high costs of watermarking them (the DVD isn’t released in the US yet). Most likely Rockwell’s performance will be overlooked when the nominations are announced (even if this petition reaches 1,000,000), and that’s a true shame because, other than a HAL-like computer voiced by Kevin Spacey, this film is all Rockwell. He plays an astronaut working alone for three years on a moon base. Two weeks before he goes home he finds… himself. Is he going crazy or is something else happening? You’ll have to rent it to find out, but trust me when I say Rockwell gives the best performance(s) of the year.
So, what were some of the best performances you’ve seen this year?
Once again, as another year draws to a close, I’ve been scrambling, trying to work out which albums this year were my favorites. Remember, this list is totally subjective and not meant to imply that these are the ten best albums of the year, period. They are simply my favorite albums of 2009, the ones that I personally thought were the best. Go ahead and strap yourself in, it’s going to be a long ride:
10. Silversun Pickups – Swoon
Everyone’s favorite Smashing Pumpkins cover band is back with a new album. Just kidding. Just kidding. Sure, the Silversun Pickups have some of the same ascetics that the Pumpkins did; the overwhelming guitar, the heavy bass played by a hot female bassist, etc, but they are most definitely a different band. I had their firstPikul EP and the growth since then is pretty stunning. Sure, there are a few throw-away tracks here, notably “Catch and Release” and “Sort Of,” but the standouts more than make up for it. “Panic Switch” and “There’s No Secrets This Year” are a couple of the better tracks to come out this year. All in all, this record makes me look forward to their next effort, because if they can get rid of the 2-3 filler songs that seem to pop up on each of their records, there isn’t much to keep them from putting out a truly memorable record.
9. Mariachi El Bronx – Mariachi El Bronx
The last thing I expected when Kelly told me that The Bronx had a new disc out and that I had to listen to it was to hear a tumbling bassline and lots of brass horns. For a hardcore punk band, these guys can really belt out some mariachi tunes. Sure, it’s not like they re-make the whole genre, but they get a huge up for actually having the skill as musicians to pull off a pretty damn good mariachi record. The songs pop with excitement, heartache and loss. What starts out as a stunner ends up as a solid record that would be a good addition to anyone’s music collection.
8. Eels – El Hombre Lobo
It seems like every year that the Eels put out a record, I end up exhorting my friends and acquaintances (unsuccessfully) to check them out. This has been happening for almost ten years now and no one seems to listen. You’d think after awhile I’d give up the ghost and just enjoy them by myself in the privacy of my own home. Each release gets less and less publicity and less and less fanfare, but is no less impressive than the one that preceded it. I like to think of them as a alternate reality Tom Petty. They both write consistently good songs, only one doesn’t have Rolling Stone magazine salivating over their every move. Guess which.
This record is different from the last few that the Eels have put out. While Blinking Lights and Other Revelations was a opus that spanned two discs and spawned two distinctly different tours. El Hombre Lobo sounds like a record made in a basement for a select audience. If Mark Oliver Everett’s music didn’t come out of the studio sounding so polished. If he gave in and made a sloppy record that reveled in it’s flaws, he’d probably be lauded, much like Paul Westerberg was for his Stereo/Mono collection of basement recordings. But because each Eels record has a certain polish to it, we sweep them under the rug and discount them. Meanwhile, one of the better songwriters of our generation has been languishing under our very noses for over 15 years and the only thing that we remember him for is one radio hit back in 1996. It’s sad, really. So, hey, do me a favor and go buy this fucking album.
7. Justin Townes Earle – Midnight at the Movies
I’d include this album for the title track alone. The songwriting is stellar, the arrangements are top-notch and Earle’s voice will haunt you in your dreams. Add in that he includes a cover of The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait” that just breaks your heart and this is a record that, much like the Avett Brothers, I could sit and enjoy with just about anyone. “Mama’s Eyes” makes you want to cry and “Black Eyed Suzy” makes you want to get up and shake something. In addition to the songwriting, Earle should be commended for choosing the right traditional songs and covers to round out this memorable album.
6. The Thermals – Now We Can See
Sometimes there’s a band that comes along and, through sheer force of will, can do no wrong. It’s not that every song they record is a hit or that every album they put out is an instant classic, but they just keep chugging along and never seem to disappoint. For me, that’s Portland’s own Thermals. They have always put out listenable, energetic records. Fucking A is a classic of the early 2000s and 2007′s The Body, The Blood, The Machine was epic, especially for a punk record. On Now We Can See, The Thermals seem to be settling into early middle age without losing much of the verve that made them so enjoyable in the first place. You see bands hit a certain age all the time and just drop off a cliff artistically. Thankfully, that does not happen here. With sing-along songs like “Now We Can See” mixed with the blunt force of “When We Were Alive,” The Thermals have managed to begin to grow old gracefully. Some bands view every new record as more and more pressure, but it seems like Hutch, Kathy and Co. are content to keep on letting us in on their good time.
5. White Rabbits – It’s Frightening
The percussion. The staccato guitars. The rolling bass. The howling vocals. The percussion. This album has it all. So many of the songs use a calypso beat and it makes even someone like me want to dance. The songs are more proclamations than diatribes, filled with poignant lines like “when you’re out taking names/take a number.” It’s Frightening was produced by Spoon’s Britt Daniel, and when you listen to the White Rabbits’ first full length, Fort Nightly, it really shows. There is much more space and experimentalism going on on this record. They take chances and seem to have been challenged to grow musically and that’s exactly what they did. While there are ravers peppering the whole album, some of the standouts are the slower, more contemplative tracks, like “Midnight and I” and “Company I Keep.” This record is a big step forward for the White Rabbits and it’s certainly one of the more listenable albums, front to back, of the year.
4. Mos Def – The Ecstatic
I’ve always liked the idea of Mos Def. He’s popped up on my radar as an actor and occasionally as a musician here and there, but I’d never really sat down and listened to one of his albums all the way through. I figured enough was enough and grabbed The Ecstatic. Now I know what I was missing. The flow, the creativity, the personality, they make his music unmistakable in so many ways. Top to bottom, this record is excellent. Kicking off with “Supermagic” and culminating with “Casa Bey,” two extremely strong tracks, there is barely a throwaway on this album. The stellar “Auditorium” really stands out, as do “Quiet Dog” and “Life in Marvelous Times.” Mos Def is at the top of his game here and has delivered a true gem.
3. Blakroc – Blakroc
When I first heard about a collaboration between The Black Keys and a group of hip-hop artists, I was slightly skeptical. But after thinking about it for a moment, I realized that their brand of gut-bucket blues might just fit with the esthetics of rap. I couldn’t have imagined how well, though. About halfway through Blakroc, you forget about that this concept sounded unique at first blush and just accept that it was inevitable and relish that it was done by such talented artists. From top to bottom, this record breathes new life into a musical genre that has been languishing in obscurity for too long. Overshadowed by flash and bling and half-assed artists, rap and hip-hop has found refuge in the underground and alternative music circles, where Mos Def, Raekwon and RZA have found new, if limited, fame.
The integration of blues and hip-hop has always been on the periphery, but now it’s been shoved to the forefront and rightfully so. As it stands, it’s a testament to the talent of the artists involved, because they make it all sound so effortless.
2. Japandroids – Post-Nothing
This record languished in my library for a few months after I first got it, popping up every now and then. I never really took the time to sit and listen to what it had to say until one day, it hit me like a punch in the gut. The raw emotion and fuzzed-out simplicity are hard to resist. It’s like listening to pure nostalgia. The Japandroids have managed to put out a record that makes me wish that I was at once young enough to share the enthusiasm for life that oozes from Post-Nothing and makes me glad that I’m old enough to share sentiments like “we used to dream/now we worry about dying” from “Young Hearts Spark Fire”.
The Japandroids aren’t re-inventing the wheel with their sound and their songwriting is slightly above par, but the combination of the current social climate and my own flip into my 30s make this the perfect record to bemoan getting old to.
1. Avett Brothers – I and Love and You
The Avett Brothers have been making down-home music to soothe the soul for most of the last decade, garnering a small but dedicated fanbase everywhere they play. Whether it’s frantic rave-ups or plaintive ballads, they’ve blazed a new path for true country music in an era marked by experimentalism and a departure from simple songs. That’s something that, in and of itself, I admire. But add to that the fact that they make beautiful music and I’m hooked. I bought most of their albums within a one month period after picking up their 2007 effort, Emotionalism, and I haven’t looked back. So when they released a their newest this fall, I was falling over myself to listen to it.
I and Love and You is a monumental leap forward for The Avett Brothers. The arrangements are grander without being over-grand, the songs are more focused without sounding too polished and the passion that informs so much of their performance is still comes across on the recording. And while this album is decidedly different from most of their catalog, they still manage to stay true to form. The album is paced perfectly, kicking off with the title track and never looking back for a moment. There are poignant moments peppered throughout and strong tracks all the way through. From the heartbreakingly lovely “January Wedding” to deliciously quirky “Slight Figure of Speech,” this album hums all the way through. I could sit down and enjoy I and Love and You with a teenager and with my grandmother, knowing that they’d love something about it. There’s something here for everyone, and that’s more than I can say for almost every other record that came out this year.
Picking the best songs of the year is an entirely different process than picking albums. Albums have to be cohesive and diverse, they have to pull you in and take you along for the ride. Songs, well, songs can be any number of things; a quick diversion, a jolt of inspiration or a righteous jam that makes you want to make an ass out of yourself in any number of ways, from dancing to singing at the top of your lungs while driving down the highway.
For me, I like to put together my favorite songs of the year into a single CD. Kind of an Album for the Year kind of thing. That way, I can go back and listen to those songs and they will remind me of the year in question. Because of this, the songs are going to be numbered like an album, not in order of their greatness. So, without any further ado, here are my 17 (yes, 17) songs for the year that was 2009:
1. Cannibal Resource – Dirty Projectors
2. Swim Until You Can’t See Land(single) – Frightened Rabbit
3. Don’t Slow Down – Matt & Kim
4. Now We Can See – The Thermals
5. Quiet Little Voices – We Were Promised Jetpacks
Um…hey. Yeah, I know I haven’t been around much lately. You know how it is. Eating and drinking and stuff. But I’ve been meaning to write more. Really, I have. It’s just, well, I broke all my fingers off. And I don’t like blogging with stubs. It hurts more than you think it would.
But here I am anyway, because I actually have something to share. I made a video at my place of employment, and now I share it with you, the denizens of the Internet. It’s kind of like a Christmas gift, except that you don’t need to unopen it and you don’t actually get to keep it in any way except for in your memories. But otherwise, Happy Christmas.
So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last month. And I think you’ll agree, it was worth every second I spent on it and not being a productive blogger type. But with all that out of the way, maybe I’ll actually get back to posting stuff again. Anything’s possible.
Preparations have begun. Chris, Kelly and I are hard at work scribbling away in notebooks about how much we love this album or that album, using superlatives normally reserved for junior high love letters.
It’s Top Ten Album of the Year time, people!
Of course, I’m sure we’ll all be very unbiased in our reviews and have a healthy respect for each other’s opinions. Music nerds like us have a well-known tendency for level-headedness.
This is a tradition that stretches back to the start of the decade, when we first decided to get together at the end of the year and trash each other’s favorite albums on the the mighty airwaves of KMSC, to the delight of easily a handful of people.
Since then, our forum has changed and we have mellowed. We are all now in our 30s, respectable adults in the eyes of our peers. Or, at least in the eyes of our mothers. The lists this year will be for Best Albums and Best Songs. Stay tuned…
For those interested, our lists for last year are available for your perusal here, here and here.
If you, like me, need to watch the campiest, goriest, straight-to-DVD-iest horror bloodbaths come Halloween night, but don’t feel like sampling the weekly offering of uninspired torture-flicks and dull remakes as a result, then you have found a semi-suitable solution! That’s right, I have for you a scrumptious banquet of gems to share, but be warned, only the strongest of stomachs can endure the macabre that is… THE TOP MOVIES TO WATCH ON HALLOWEEN
The first stop on our wretched tour of blood-stained cinema is Dave Parker’s newest malevolent shocker… The Hills Run Red.
I’m keeping most of these selections recent, since running off titles like Nightmare on Elm Street wouldn’t go beyond saying to dip into your DVD collection and enjoy. You’ve already seen Halloween, why not give you something not completely obvious? How about TheHills Run Red? It’s a great introduction to a night of movie watching, given that it’s about horror movies. A trio of movie addicts team up with an actress who once starred in an obscure 80s slasher flick – The Hills Run Red. (The notorious film-within-a-film was pulled from theaters and destroyed due to its grim and realistic depiction of violence.) After hearing about the director’s personal copy of the movie from his daughter (the actress), they seek out his house deep in the woods to retrieve it. Bad idea.
THRR is made strictly for horror-fans, specifically the kind with a strong stomach and a particular tolerance for paper-thin plots. I can’t imagine anybody who isn’t a horror fan to enjoy it, and even the most hardcore of the bunch may view THRR to be an unremarkable DTV slasher. I found it to be a gritty, creepy, mean little film with a memorable bunch of villains and one of the craziest endings I’ve seen in recent horror. It also scores points for being self-aware, but not in an annoying “I’m going to shove my horror fanboyism in your face for 80 minutes” way. All in all, it’s brutal, unflinching, and after you’re done screaming you’ll be talking about it.
Our nextscream-igniting splatter-fest of the night is Adam Green’s Hatchet.
Hatchet is another slasher, once again taking place in the woods. Unlike The Hills Run Red, Hatchet is played entirely for laughs, but does a surprisingly good job getting scares out of such an absurd premise. The villain is a joke; he was deformed at birth and killed by his peers as a result of a mean prank, but lives on as a ghost haunting the area and dispatching any poor soul that dare tests his wrath. In this case, a helpless group of quirky characters get shipwrecked by a phony tour guide, thus becoming targets for the lumbering redneck (played by Kane Hodder!).
Many horror filmmakers make the mistake of writing dramatic characters amidst a goofy situation, but writer/director Adam Green does everything to fix this. His characters are funny and loveable, which sets his film apart from tons of others in the genre. Plus, you’re still able to laugh as they get killed in the most ridiculous ways I’ve seen in a movie, ever. Overall, Hatchet is laid back, late-night move goodness, with a great sense of humor and atmosphere.
Our next addition to our terrible list of human misery is Joe Lynch’s abominable Wrong Turn 2.
Yes, we’re still in comedic territory with Wrong Turn 2, and we’re also still in the woods. I promise, no more woods after this one.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Wow, this guy hates a Coen bros. movie, but it’s a good thing he likes a straight-to-DVD followup to a movie nobody cared about in the first place!” Well, WT2 is awesome. To get an idea of how insane this movie is, Eli Roth used 150 gallons of fake blood to make Hostel. Joe Lynch used 300 gallons of fake blood to make WT2. It’s the most frenetic movie I’ve seen in a long time, a film that truly never lets up. Don’t get the wrong idea, it’s still glorious Halloween-ish fun, with not one second of gore that makes you feel uncomfortable or sick to your stomach. Much like Kill Bill or Sin City, WT2 hits every right note with its violence.
The characters are also comedic, and they’re developed enough to make you care what happens to them. In fact, it’s pretty unpredictable in terms of who survives and who doesn’t. The one I would put money on got the axe barely a half-hour in (literally). It’s these constant twists and turns that make WT2 completely worthy of a look, soon to be two or three once you give it a chance.
Up next, the strange, remarkable, horrifying world of REC.
This is the first truly terrifying movie on the list. REC, unlike that dreadful remake Quarantine, not only provides a great claustrophobic atmosphere, it also fixes the many problems the mockumentary sub-genre suffers from. The worst issue with these movies is that there’s no reason for the characters to call “cut” and shut off the camera for a few seconds. REC, on the other hand, comes up with logical reasons to shut off the camera, as well as hiding the cuts during the action sequences by entering a patch of darkness for a brief moment or bumping the camera against a wall during the panic.
This is the kind of movie that’s better when you know nothing about it going in. It’s completely chaotic, there’s always something happening to make the situation worse. To me, it’s one of the best recent zombie movies that didn’t make it to theaters in America. I can’t even imagine how scary it would be in a theater.
Next up: the brutal, horrible, hulking, indescribable monstrosity that is Splinter.
Here’s another one you’ve probably never heard of. It seems very derivative and unremarkable at first, but give it time to sink in and you’ve got a fun monster movie with plenty of tricks under its sleeve. Most of the film takes place in a remote gas station, going from prison to tomb within minutes as an escaped convict takes a young couple hostage, only to encounter a common enemy that forces them to band together to survive.
It’s pretty wild, and the creature is awesome. My main problem with the movie is that it overdoes the “shaky camera” gag whenever the monster barges in after our protagonists. It’s almost sickening, but it kind of works in the sense that it’s such a horrible abomination that it can’t even be described through film. The characters are good and likable, even the convict, once you get to hear his honest back story. In short, if you like monster movies, you’ll like this one.
Well, you’ve gone through five of these, and it’s time to end the night. But we’re not talking idiotic slasher material here. This needs to end on a high note, and I mean a really high note. You need something that defines Halloween like no other movie on this list. You gotta watch Trick ‘r Treat.
Trick ‘r Treat is absolutely amazing in every way. It’s an anthology, and one packed with the best of what represents Halloween in the strangest, ghoulish, most bizarre way possible. This film is 80 minutes, and it has enough material to fill 2-hours. After being delayed 2 years by anxious studio execs, Trick ‘r Treat shows thatit is the wildest, most original horror movie in a long time, and probably the best movie of the year. And it never hit theaters. How shameful.
Unlike most of these movies, Trick ‘r Treat can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone. It’s funny, it’s dark, and it’s scary. The last twenty minutes stand out the most for me; I won’t spoil any of it, but I will say that I never thought I’d ever be laughing and scared at the same time. It’s this kind of dark humor that makes Trick ‘r Treat as awesome as it is.
I know this article is cutting it very close, being a day before Halloween, but who cares? Watch these movies anytime, they’re great no matter what day it is. You don’t even have to watch all of them, just pick any combination of the movies above and you’ll have a worthy horror-thon. Or go see Paranormal Activity. Just make sure you’re willing to sacrifice a week of sleep after you leave the theater.
You may have noticed that I stopped blogging here. It’s because I don’t love you any more. But extenuating circumstances occasionally get in the way of me being too damn lazy to ever write blog posts anymore. And today is one of them. For you see, this cannot be allowed to stand.
Creed Is Good
Scott Stapp’s nu-grunge foursome was seriously underrated.
By Jonah Weiner
Posted Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009, at 9:30 AM ET
We can interrupt right here because everything of importance in this article has already been stated. First, the title. While composed entirely of words that are both actual words and in English, it still legally counts as gibberish because there is no way those three words belong together in that order. Creed is good. It’s like saying the sky is red or dogs can fly or Windows 7 is the greatest operating system every created. These are all statements that make no logical sense. But the author is determined to make an argument that is roughly along the same lines as “Ass cancer has a bad rap, but I contend that ass cancer is something that is actually desirable.”
But if you managed to make it past the title without grabbing the nearest paperweight and caving in your own skull, first of all, congratulations. It probably helps that paperweights aren’t in general usage these days, but still, your restraint is admirable. But the subhead provides yet another challenge. “Scott Stapp’s nu-grunge foursome was seriously underrated.” Nu-grunge? Seriously? Was that ever a word before this exact minute? But forgetting that, please remember the word “underrated,” as its subject will be brought up again shortly.
Lastly, Jonah Weiner. Hehe. I really need say no more.
In 1997, an unknown Florida hard-rock group called Creed spent $6,000 to make its debut album, My Own Prison. Talk about a good investment: An independent label, Wind-Up, signed the group, got Sony to provide distribution, and Creed became, for four years or so, one of America’s hugest bands.
That was only for four years? Wow. It seemed like an eternity back when the biggest rock acts on the face of the planet were Creed, Nickleback and Puddle of Mudd. How any of us survived those days is beyond my pay grade.
Its 1999 single, “Higher,” topped the modern-rock chart for 17 straight weeks. “With Arms Wide Open,” released the following year, reached the top of the pop charts, and won the Grammy for best rock song. Between 1997 and 2002, the band grossed more than $70 million touring. To date, it has sold 26 million records in the United States.
Now, we will return to that word from earlier. “Underrated.” Please notice that the author of this article (Hehe. Weiner.) is asserting that a band that made $70 million from touring and sold 26 million records in four years’ time was somehow “underrated.” Why am I taking the time to ridicule an article that is already ridiculing itself?
It was the perfect setup for a Behind the Music-style implosion, and Creed delivered. By late 2002, singer Scott Stapp was on a near-daily regimen of alcohol and Percocet—prescribed after a car crash—and he would soon add OxyContin and the steroid Prednisone to the list. In December of that year, Stapp stepped onto a Chicago stage visibly intoxicated, slurring his lyrics and performing one song while lying on his back. (Fans sued, unsuccessfully, for refunds.)
Yeah, that was hilarious.
It was the last show of a nationwide tour, and Stapp’s band mates didn’t speak to him for months. The next year, at home in Orlando, Stapp put two guns to his head, intent on blowing out his brains. Recounting this near-suicide, he has explained that he decided to put down the weapons after spotting a photograph of his infant son, about whom he’d written “With Arms Wide Open.”
Dammit! SO CLOSE! By the way, who in the hell has ever, when contemplating suicide, decided that the best way to go about it was with not one, but TWO guns? I’ll tell you who. Fucking Scott Stapp did.
In 2004, Creed broke up, and as this recent New York Times piece shows, there is no disagreement within the band that it died for Stapp’s sins.
Today, Stapp has shaved his head, cleaned up his act, and Creed has reunited for a tour and a new album, out at the end of this month—the first single, “Overcome,” is a wailing survivor’s anthem. (This Details story is a fine chronicle of the band’s dissolution and return.) Stapp’s lyrics have always been full of sweaty redemption narratives and howled prayers for second chances, so we could have seen this comeback bid coming a mile away. That is, if we’d had any reason to think about Creed at all. From the start, critical gatekeepers dismissed the band as derivative blowhards with a self-righteous Christian agenda, a consensus that did nothing to slow sales but that cemented in the popular imagination and took its own toll.
Oh, the poor babies. They unfairly got paintbrushed with the image of being a shitty band just because they happened to be a shitty band. No wonder they wanted to blow their brains out. Twice. At the same fucking time.
In the Times article, guitarist Mark Tremonti said that he greeted the breakup with a degree of relief: “No matter how many records you sell, when you’re up there with a target on your head every day it’s not fun.” Along with Limp Bizkit (who made fun of Creed, too), Stapp and Co. are remembered today as poster boys for a turn-of-the-century musical nightmare we’re happily past.
You may have just missed the only fundamentally true statement in this article, so I encourage you to go back and read it again. It does, in fact, suck to be made fun of by Limp Bizkit. Because, you know, they were Limp Bizkit. Also, Fred Durst probably tried to kill himself one time with eight guns and a rocket launcher. So suck on that, Stapp.
There’s no telling whether Creed will make good on its second chance, but the band deserves a second listen. If your impulse on hearing that it has reunited is to groan, stifle it long enough to locate a copy of Creed’s 2004 Greatest Hits collection. It’s a fantastic baker’s dozen of first-rate schlock-rock, courtesy of one of the most underrated and unfairly maligned groups in pop history.
Yes, if your first instinct upon hearing that Creed is back to being a band after being an ex-band is to groan or dry-heave or see if you happen to have two shotguns laying around somewhere handy, the obvious solution is for you to go pick up a copy of all their shittiest music compiled onto one CD and listen to it over and over and over again until you come to an incorrect epiphany: that Creed does, in actuality, rock. That’s a much better idea than continuing to believe that Creed sucks, just because they do.
Listening to Creed today, it’s hard to reconcile the animus against the band with the music.
It is? How?
(The animus against the group’s satiny tunics and slithery facial hair was always perfectly understandable.) In his lyrics, Stapp is a well-meaning, Bible-fluent doofus, easy to chuckle at but difficult to imagine hating.
You have no idea who Scott Stapp is, do you?
“The world is heading for mutiny, when all we want is unity,” he sings on “One.”
So that tiny little lyric there is the one argument you’re going to use to display just how much of a pompous, untalented shitstain Scott Stapp is as a songwriter, huh? Lame. Here, I’ll do your job for you.
“I look at you, you look away, I see your soul, It’s kind of gray…”
“Above all the others we’ll fly. This brings tears to my eyes. My sacrifice”
“Only in America. We’re slaves to be free. Only in America we kill the unborn. To make ends meet. Only in America. Sexuality is democracy. Only in America we stamp our dollar ‘In God We Trust.’”
The trouble wasn’t that he was a blustery, would-be messiah (that didn’t stop Bono’s canonization)
I think what actually was to blame for Bono’s canonization not being avoided was the fact that U2 made Joshua Tree, whereas the reason why Scott Stapp is universally heralded as a buffoon is because he is a buffoon, and has no positive contributions to music history to atone for it. But please, do continue on with your stupid point.
so much as the unrepentant hamminess he brought to the role: ample baritone quaking and churning, arms outstretched atop mountains and hovering, Christlike, above crowds in music videos. On stage, Stapp was Charlton Heston in leather pants, humping the stone tablets.
Which is, of course, what everybody wants from a rock band. Chalton Heston dry humping rocks.
His brand of fist-pumping, hair-tossing, pelvis-swiveling rocksmanship was hardly without precedent; it just seemed obnoxiously anachronistic. An audacious throwback to the preening hair-metal era (and, even further, to Robert Plant’s roosterish sashay), Stapp audaciously reinflated rock’s hot-air balloon less than a decade after Kurt Cobain was thought to have punctured it for good.
First, punctured? Way to stick it to the dead junkie there, Weiner. You showed him. Second, was there really that big a demand for rock music to have its hot air balloon reinflated? Were we really, as a nation, that desperate to have another Winger? If this were the case, wouldn’t it have saved time to have just given old Kip a call, and let him know that all was forgiven? God knows he isn’t doing anything else of any interest at the moment.
And it’s not that the band didn’t deliver. To the contrary, Creed seemed to irritate people precisely because its music was so unabashedly calibrated towards pleasure:
Well, that and the whole sucking ass thing.
Every surging riff, skyscraping chorus, and cathartic chord progression telegraphed the band’s intention to rock us, wow us, move us. Tremonti was a brutally effective guitarist, and by 2001′s “Weathered,” he’d even added subtlety—or the hard-rock version of it, anyway—to his arsenal. Creed was formulaic, but that’s only an insult if the formula doesn’t work. One of the surprises involved in returning to Creed with a fresh pair of ears is how rocking, exciting, and, yes, moving, the songs can be. “Higher” might turn out to be the nu-grunge “Don’t Stop Believing”: dismissed by cognoscenti on arrival as bludgeoning and gauche but destined for rehabilitation down the road as a triumphant slab of ersatz inspirationalism.
So there you have it. Creed was underrated because a man named Weiner bought Weathered eight years ago and still listens to it on his car stereo every morning on his way to work and still thinks it fucking rocks, so obviously it’s everyone else who’s mistaken.
There’s never any such thing as listening in a vacuum—see this recent New York Times Magazine story on the fascinating, ultimately paradoxical attempts of the music Web site Pandora to wean musical taste away from the sullying effects of “cultural information”—and it’s a lot easier to give Creed a sympathetic spin now that they aren’t so ubiquitous or so ubiquitously loathed. In fact, when you listen to the band’s third album, Weathered, with Stapp’s period of self-ruin in mind, its emotional heft is amplified.
Weathered was awesome! I love Weathered so goddamn much!
“Bullets” is a furious blast of metal and one of the most galvanizing persecution anthems ever penned: “At least look at me when you shoot a bullet through my head! Through my head! Through my head!” he howls, presumably at the band’s haters.
Or, perhaps, at himself. Remember? The whole two shotguns thing?
At the other end of the spectrum is “One Last Breath,” a wounded ballad featuring one of Stapp’s most affecting vocals and a lovely refrain that foreshadows his suicide attempt: “Hold me now, I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking, maybe six feet ain’t so far down.”
I believe when he says “lovely,” the word he really meant was “retarded.” Six feet isn’t so far down. It’s fucking six feet.
He vaults up an octave on the first “six,” cracking his voice a little in a heartstrings-tugging flourish.
Scott Stapp is awesome because he can’t hold a note! I LOVE WEATHERED!
The album’s biggest hit was “My Sacrifice,” a cornball barnstormer on par with “Higher.” It ends with a repeated plea: “I just want to say hello again.” Creed’s previous album, Human Clay, had gone platinum 11 times over, and Weathered was destined to ship 6 million copies, but Stapp already sounded like an underdog. Seven years later, it finally feels OK to start rooting for him.
And yes, we reached the end of the article, and please do make note of the fact that all of the reasons presented for why it’s now cool to like Creed is because of all the things that happened before we decided as a society that they were lame. In fact, about the only things I gleaned from this writing that has changed for Creed is that Scott Stapp shaved his head and his bandmates came to the conclusion that starving to death in the streets is a less desirable thing than having to spend several weeks in the same studio as Scott Stapp. A decision that only took them five whole years to make.
So there you go, world. It’s cool to like Creed again. No, seriously. Go put your Creed shirt back on. Nobody will make fun of you anymore. We promise. Scout’s honor and stuff.