Music Box Report Card: The Worst Albums of 2005
Last week I posted my favorite CDs of 2005. And while it’s a hard task (I mean, who wants to intentionally revisit painful memories?), here are the worst musical experiences of my 2005.
1 IL DIVO Il Divo So, Simon Cowell searches the globe for the best opera singers he could find and all we get is this lousy hairshirt? Four quasi-talented vocalists with faces right out of gay porn? Their proclivity is toward the house-frau demographic, like an adult Backstreet Boys reunion tour, only the sounds are straight out of Muzak heaven (hell), each pretentious over-melodramatic dirge more consistently inharmonious than the next. Clay Aiken is Pavarotti by comparison, Lindsay Lohan is Aretha Franklin. Howlingly misguided, terminally ill-fated. It will make a fortune.
2 STAIND Chapter IV How could the powers-that-be possibly believe that lunkhead metal from five years ago would have an iota of relevance in 2005? Aaron Lewis over-emotes more than Chris Carrabba, while the crunching of the chords and the smashing of the drums give their teenage fan base all the reason in the world to believe the lies. But the dullards who buy into this are the same dimwits first on line in the I Hate Emo bandwagon, the ‘Boy Bands Suck’ collective. Well, kids, this emo Boy Band sucks too.
3 CELTIC WOMEN Celtic Woman The most revolting piece of Irish drivel since the onslaught of the Enya, this dreary, detestable piece of Irish goop inches slowly up to gold status thanks in no small part to the profusion of PBS. Their animism naive, and the soft-core eroticism snares the male demographic for all its perky refrain. Eire de Toilette indeed.
4 ENYA Amarantine Almost a year after it’s initial release, and because of the horror of September 11, this hack “singer” [yeah, right] / “songwriter” [oh, please] had the biggest selling piece of tripe of her career with the abhorrent A DAY WITHOUT RAIN, a dismal discord of synths and ooze that the world seemed to grasp onto as a sign of distorted comfort. Well, she’s baaaack…and as imprudent as ever. More quasi-Celtic schmaltz coalesced with her archaic wheeze of a voice, it took 5 years to come up with this monstrosity. She might need a new 9/11.
5 BACKSTREET BOYS Never Gone Driving the line between has-been stardom and ersatz nostalgia, this painful redux into the lost art of ‘boy bands’ couldn’t be more blatantly manipulative, right down to the almost indistinguishable videos, to the uneven mix of hideous ballads and up-tempo dirges. What made these boys [men] so irresistible before were their inherent urges to bestow beauty on the landscape. MILLENNIUM was a teen near-classic based on 4 of the first 5 cuts alone, with their ethereal vocal flourishes wafting you toward reverie signifying nothing but pulchritude. Here, the gasping of the voices, the pretentiousness of each trying to out-sing the other, and the song selection prove this to be a fatal error in judgment. What could have been a growing up process morphed into the 3rd coming of New Kids On the Block. Max Martin, where are you?
6 MARIAH CAREY The Emancipation Of Mimi “The Return of the Voice” it was heralded. More like, the “Attack of the Screaming Mimi”. In the beginning, Carey’s performance art consisted in the technically proficient rather than the emotional tonality. The post-Tommy years saw her dwindle that siren-like screech by leaning toward more hip-hop cred – sort of ‘The Pornification of Mimi’. While those results were more laughable, at least the thought was more laudable, and thank the powers that be, more listenable, albeit never – ever – lovable. Well, to secure both audiences, `Mimi’ juxtaposes both dichotomies to the nth degree. She had a knack for a hook, but her real gift was her rolodex filled with the Who’s Who of producers and arrangers; but you know you’re hard up when even the Neptune’s come up empty handed and Jermaine Dupree feels lost. But mediocrity was always a comfortable bed for Carey to lie in – this commercial comeback garnered Mariah her biggest opening ever, and her 16th [or 17th] #1 single. But, count out artistry here – it’s a genius marketing of a record company getting what they paid for.
7 BON JOVI Have A Nice Day Yes, Jon, 100,000,000 fans could be wrong, especially when your mathematics is a devious lie. But that’s another debate. Proving once and for all that their longevity has little to do with raw talent and plenty to do with pure chutzpah [and an ever-dwindling fan base], the latest in a long line of drek by these cliché-mongering, former pin-up boys proves neither a growth or regression – it’s a quintessential Bon Jovi confection – pallid ballads and unintentionally hilarious faux-rock, over-produced, and in grand, never-let-me-down Jon Bon Jovi fashion, sung with the most bombastic over-the-top whine this side of Celine Dion on steroids. They are so awful they are not even bad enough to enjoy anymore.
8 ASHLEE SIMPSON I Am Me While not off or on the bandwagon of the ‘Ashlee Sucks’ compendium of the past year or so, bringing it upon her uneducated self I might add, I took her SNL snafu for what it was – hell, Britney and Damita Jo herself have never sung live that I’ve ever witnessed [especially on SNL], so why the flack for this wannabe diva-ette? Because, when the tenacity turns to mendacity, it’s a one-way ticket Where Are They Now? You’ve heard it all ad nauseam, from Alanis to Avril to Kelly Clarkson to, well, Simpson herself. Engaging, if not specious on her debut, her vocal was never the matter…it was the strong tunesmith. Here she aims and fires for the hook, but decimates on contact, channeling various styles unsuccessfully with no sense of songcraft. There’s no sense of coherence in the songs – her brooding becomes at best, annoying, at worst, pathetic. It would have been nice for a real triumphant comeback to alleviate the past year or so, but instead she lands flat on her high notes. And. Lord, there is THAT voice. Overall, though, it could have been darker, more satanic for poor Ashlee – her first name could be Jessica.
9 NICKELBACK All The Right Reasons Putrid neo-grungsters who commit the worst sin – not admitting they are putrid neo-grungesters. This replicates their last two albums, and if that’s your cup of vomit, cheers.
10 BURT BACHARACH All This Time Good lord, where the hell is Dionne Warwick? Not that it’s remotely possible that she could save the banalities here, a socio-political lyric sheet by Bacharach, the composer, which clearly foreshadows senility. Frightened by the weight of the world, he takes to pen and paper for the first time in his career, penning elongated suites, long-winded instrumentals and – gasp! Actually sings a few himself. Grabbing onto hipsters and hip-hop is any sage’s call for help, but who knew that not even Elvis Costeloos, Dr. Dre (“the most extraordinary producer of our time” – Burt’s words, not mine), or Rufus Wainsright could save this. Forget Warwick, where the hell is Hal David?
BLOODHOUND GANG Hefty Fine How could misogyny, scat and Ralph Wiggums not be any fun?
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge Power chords, a singer as sonic as an electrocuted simian, they got the quasi-Goth wardrobe down. Though, they’re really Emo in charade (oh, joy.). Perfect for the PopGoth for the the MTV generation. For the rest of civilization, they’re a travesty as cold and calculated as Limp Bizkit.
JASON MRAZ Mr. A-Z Dexterous wordplay doesn’t come close to his smug self-absorption. The most un-sexy artist to muse about sex since Adam Levine, his sophomoric cramming of too-many-puns-per sentences showcases his contrivance over deft, gauche over piquancy. If his preoccupation with sex seems congruous with his goofy frat boy geekiness, it makes it more depressing that he ain’t got the skills.
PAUL MCCARTNEY Chaos and Creation in the Backyard Far be it from mortal me to attempt to knock a legend off his pedestal, but, sick of hearing, every few years when Sir Paul releases a new album that it’s ‘his comeback!’ ‘He hasn’t been this good in years!!’ ‘The best since the 70s!!!’ Please, Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame solo be damned, he’s never released a masterpiece [closest was his almost-covers CD post-Linda, a fine tribute to 50s nostalgia]. While not as lethargic as ‘Driver Rain’, or cringe-inducing as his last live opus, this is still a major annoyance. Balanced by John, George and Ringo in the 60s, unbalanced by Linda and – who else? – ever since.
ANDY BELL Electric Blues Gay disco at it’s most commercially repugnant; there isn’t a hummable track on this hour-long spiral into the depths of top 40 club-land. Not that Erasure was ever inventive or ground-breaking (they were not), but there were hints of campy nostalgia within each superficial album, which propelled Bell to utilize his atrociously schmaltzy vocals to grand, if not hammy, effect. On ELECTRIC BLUES he takes his ‘art’ serious, folks, and by serious I mean dueting with his offspring, Jake Shears and losing the preciousness that endeared him to his aging queer fan base.
JENNIFER LOPEZ Rebirth I thought abortion was legal. Then how did this album survive?
SHERYL CROW Wildflower Formulaic enough, she also releases a deluxe edition, with acoustic versions of the track list. Whatever happened to the Sheryl Crow of SHERYL CROW?