That's My Jam: The Massholes of London

Here's an interesting question: What if an artist that you can't stand comes out with a song that you actually kinda like?
For example, I'm hearing more and more people falling victim to that new Miley Cyrus "Party in the USA" track, despite the fact that they're fully aware that it's Miley friggin' Cyrus.
Kind of the same way everybody drank the Kool-Aid and started falling all over
themselves when Kid Rock came out with that "All Summer Long" piece of crap.
See, pop music doesn't care if you don't like it at first. Pop songs don't care if you get sick of them after they get overplayed to death. Pop music is basically that Barbied-out chick at the club with the revealing clothes that knows that eventually you'll be back. She saw you lookin' when she first came in the room -- and even if you say out loud that you're not into that type of girl or you couldn't stand the whiny sound of her voice, she knows you'll buy her that drink if she asks you to.

Hate yourself for it later -- but if that cute girl with the caramel-colored skin and the pretty eyes that you're into suddenly gives you a smile and motions for you to come join her on the dance floor and the DJ puts on Lady effing Gaga, what are you really going to do?

My boy Grover and I once had a long discussion about a blog post we wanted to write together called "Songs I have pretended to like for women." Luckily, both of us are smart enough not to actually go through with writing it,
But trust me ladies -- a lot of men out there have been faking it for years.
It's one of the things I truly loved about j -- because even though we had similar headbanging music tastes, both of us were still occasionally vulnerable at times to the lures of top 40 sounds. But whenever one of us found out about it the results were an instant lifetime of shit-talking. It could be just that one song on your iPod, or that CD that you burned a copy of once 5 years ago from your ex sister-in-law that you never really listen to anymore -- but if one of us discovered it in your possession, it was on like the break of dawn.
I miss that.
Of course, as I've said many times -- the thing about pop music is that even at it's most cloying, it's built to be temporary. Pop songs eventually go away to make room for the next new thing.

Rock and Roll is a little more tricky. Annoying rock song that find their way into everybody's ears become the very worst things of all -- anthems. And classic rock anthems get played on classic rock stations where nothing ever, ever goes away.

But even worse, that song will then become one of those tunes a dance DJ will keep in his pocket for that time in the night when he changes things up and goes for a block of rock tunes. It ends up on movie soundtracks, gets played whenever your favorite team takes the field, and surely will be sung by this years "sorta rocker guy" on American Idol.

Hell, if it's classic enough you might get to hear it when you open up one of those greeting cards with the little speaker hidden inside.
Happy birthday Dan, it's a hallmark card that plays "Sweet Home Alabama."
..Over and over and over and over and over and over again.
Music snobs like me don't get to pick classic songs. We're too picky, and therefore can't really be trusted. Basically by our very nature -- music snobs sometimes get so caught up in trying to uphold the standards of what they think "good music" is that they sorta lose sight of what "good time music" is really all about.
But here's the thing -- even the worst music snob knows a truly great song when he hears it.
True classic songs are that way for a reason. Sure they get played to death and you can get sick of them -- but when a tune's truly got the goods, there's no way to deny it.

This is what makes that Kid Rock song so terrible. "Werewolves of London" already was one of those tunes. A unique moment of pop catchiness and smoky pool-hall attitude from an artist who wasn't really about either of those things at all, but came out with this perfect little groove anyways. But to intertwine it with that Lynrd Skynrd riff and then blather all over it the way Kid Rock does makes a lot of people forget Warren Zevon ever wrote that song in the first place.

I get that Kid Rock says he was paying tribute to some tunes he liked. But when you get right down to it, what we've got happening now is that those two songs are paying Kid Rock's rent. As if Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zandt's whole reason for writing "Sweet Home Alabama" was to keep a has-been white trash rapper in a wife beater shirt relevant for a few more years.

Plus (and this is perhaps the worst part of all) whenever I hear the first few notes of the song being played on the radio or in the club, I actually think (hope) it is "Werewolves of London" -- only to be instantly disappointed once the actual truth is revealed.

But here's the thing. As much as all of this conjecture further confirms and solidifies my long-standing belief that Kid Rock fucking sucks, the possibility (no matter how slim) will always exist that he will someday come out with a song that I actually kind of dig, which will not only throw my whole value system into question -- but will then actually make me out of be some sort of hypocrite.

Actually here's a better example -- in the early 90's rock music was sorta in a bad place overall, largely because the vast majority of it had become a bloated parody of it's own former self. Rock acts had become little more than costumed dancers, guitar solos were endless streams of pointless noodling, and as long as you were pretty enough to get on MTV you could have a hit record without really trying.

Not to mention the fact that Grunge was starting to dig in it's heels as a movement, and was gaining ground as the alternative to all of this posing and pretension.

Somewhere in the midst of all this building turmoil, a band broke out of Massachusetts and picked up a quick amount of buzz despite representing so many of the qualities that were making people really sick and tired of rock and roll in the first place.
That band was called Extreme.
Their first real exposure came (natch) via MTV, where a song called "Get the Funk Out" slipped into heavy rotation. The song itself was an encyclopedia of bad rap-metal cliches, and the video featured the lead singer essentially dressed up like the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But that wasn't all. In addition to all this, Extreme featured a guy named Nuno Bettencourt on guitar -- a true badass of a shredder who's talent in many ways eclipsed the band, but who's style and look fit them perfectly. The guy was a real player with chops and range, and even as annoying and copycat as his bands music was -- I was pulled right in.
Remember what I was saying the other day about guitars being sort of like the boobs of music for
me? How I tended to notice guitars first even if I truly desire to connect with music on a deeper level?
Extreme was basically a girl with zero personality but an incredible rack.
The guitar magazines adored Bettencourt for his flash and his knowledge, and for a while he seemed to be everywhere -- offering lessons, peddling his signature Washburn guitar (which I actually played for a while -- great little axe), and even doing backing track work for artists like Janet Jackson, Robert Palmer, BB Mak, and Toni Braxton.

Essentially the guy was all over the place, especially in the kind of media that I tended to take in. And even though I was sorta meh on Extreme the band, they weren't the worst thing in the world, and you could even sorta get used to them in a "I like the guitar solos more than I like the songs" kind of way.
Then this happened.
Now I know there's a bunch of you out there who are all like, "Oh I love that song" -- which is fine, this was a big hit. But I hate it.

I Hate, hate, hate this song. Cloying, whiny, overplayed to the point of torture on the radio -- not to mention the fact that I worked for a few years as a sound guy for a band that played this song every night, partially because the Butterly's could do the vocal harmonies perfectly, but mostly because of how popular it was.
Seriously, on the setlists they'd put out before every show this song was called "Panty Dropper."
Plus, like a lot of crossover hits do, the success of this tune reduced the band from whatever they were before to this one song. So the next thing they put out, a tune called "Hole Hearted" was basically *another* acoustic love song -- and the next thing you know this is all the band was about.

A few years later, after failing to find a way to recreate that success they fell apart and broke up. The story might have ended there (save for the fact that "More than Words" still gets played on the radio) -- but somehow the members of Extreme weren't satisfied with just ruining their own careers -- and they eventually started showing up everywhere. Singer Gary Cherone joined Van Halen for a short, horrible time, the band's original drummer got into artist management and unleashed the crappiness of Godsmack onto the world, and Bettencourt landed a gig as the guitarist in Rhianna's touring band -- which seemed like a good fit for him.

All of which was fine for me, as I had written off Extreme as a "crappy" a long time ago and was happy not to think of them ever again.
But then this happened.
Why I clicked on this video in the first place it's hard to say. When I first heard Extreme was getting back together I pictured them playing State Fairs or something. But there had been a time when I had a lot of love for their guitar player, and the website I found this on talked it up a lot. But you know what? This is a pretty cool little rock song. Certainly nothing earth-shattering, nothing that hasn't been done before -- but I dig the riff, I love the guitar solo -- and I was actually grinning at the whole premise of the video.
Or at least I was until they trotted out the pregnant chick wearing the bikini.
Look honey, I'm happy for you. I wish you and your child the happiest of futures -- but get the hell out of my music video, ok?

It's funny too -- because as cliche as the whole clip is -- it's (at least in my opinion) a fun little ride in the beginning with the kids pretending to drive, and the whole "if I knew then what I knew now" gag -- but then, almost like clockwork the Bahhston attitude comes out in the second half of the clip and suddenly there's half naked pregnant women, old ladies flipping us off, biker guys with huge beards, American flags everywhere, and a guy arguing with the cops who've come to shut down his house party who eventually gets roughed up and carted off to jail while all of his Masshole friends stand by and do nothing.
"Fackin' Staties shutting down Ow-ah pahhty. Well,
isn’t that FACKIN’ CONVENIENT? Yankees Suck!"
..But I digress.

These things happen. Your favorite authors will write books you don't like. Actors you adore will show up in romantic comedies. Bands will sell out. But what happens when you suddenly find yourselves in a place where someone you thought had let you down turns around and does something you really dig?

It's easy to sit back and shoot arrows at artists and performers. As a media consumer, your only real obligation is to have an opinion about things. Whether you like something or not is a matter of personal tastes and emotional resonance.
For example, I really like big dumb rock songs with killer guitar solos in them that are about chasing girls.
I just wasn't expecting to hear one from a bunch of whiny sellouts who were famous for writing a bunch of power-ballads.
Has this ever happened to you? Where you've come to a point where you're convinced that you really can't stand a given artist or performer, only to have them sort of sneak up and put out something that you really, really dig? It's an odd thing to go through, wondering how someone you dismissed could be capable of making something that in it's own way finds it's way to make you smile.
So, who are some of yours?

[Listening to:  Shugo Tokamaru - "La La Radio" ]


unMuse said…
"But trust me ladies -- a lot of men out there have been faking it for years."

Yeah, I dated a guy that put up with Sublime for me. So I know that one all to well. Funny thing is, that we do it with a guy's friends. Oh sure we're perfectly nice to your idiot friends. That is, until we're in our gaggle bemoaning the endless tit jokes from that one, token douchebag. :-)

What usually kills actors/musicians/etc for me is not when they do something I don't like, but when they stop being artists and start having opinions outside of their music, impressing on their fans to think the same way - and that's even if I agree with them.
Monster said…
I find that Pandora is especially bad about this, because I find myself bobbing my head to a song and then discovering that it's Linkin Park or some ridiculous thing like that.

But I can excuse a one-time serendipitous acceptance of a song without knowing who it is. I think what you're after here is a song you'll play, knowing it's from an artist you don't like, over and over, and probably sing along.

I'm of the mind that there's no reason at all to ever listen to Kayne West as long as there is such a thing as a Lupe Fiasco record.

But "Homecoming" rules. Wanna hear it? I've got it right here...
Heff said…
I've ALWAYS faked it with women. Hell, you have to !

And Good God, man ! Pull yourself together !!!! Kid Rock DOES fucking suck !!
Non Oblitus said…
I have one rule when it comes to music and women. If you don't like Rush, but will tolerate the fact that I like them, then I will tolerate your crap.

Want to get bitchy when Red Barchetta or Limelight or Tom Sawyer comes on the radio? Then wait until you want to listen to that annoying grunge/seattle crap when I am arround.

I fake nothing without some consideration in return. :)
WhatIGotSoFar said…
I think they wrote Sweet Home Alabama to make sure some hippy from Canada doesn't walk around the US like he owns the place.
WhatIGotSoFar said…
Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that Gary Cherone was undressed up like Anthony Kiedis?
WhatIGotSoFar said…
But to answer your question, I don't think I can think of one. I'm too stubborn. My list is written in stone. Once you're on it, you ain't ever gettin' off.
Bef said…
Solange....yea Beyonce's little sister....

her CD Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street pretty's that R&B you won't hear on the radio cause it's better...way better than the mess they play on the radio

I remember sitting there getting ready to listen for my review on OHN...thinking this is going to be some hot buttery mess...I really wanted to dislike that CD...I mean I seriously tried to dislike it but that CD turned out to be 1 of my favorites released that year...

I'm sure there are others but that is what comes to mind right now...
JerseySjov said…
"Sweet Home Alabama" came on the radio today when i was in the car with some friends and this is exactly what came out of my mouth:
"Ungh, this is probably that shitty Kid Rock re-m-NO IT ISN'T *squeee*"
Satorical said…
Anyway you slice it, Skynyrd still sucks.