Posts tagged “When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands

When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands #5

The Beach Boys are one of those rare musical acts where they’ve been around long enough, prolific enough, and most importantly good enough to say that everyone probably likes something they’ve done. Even if you’re not a diehard fan, you have to at least tip your cap to the sheer songwriting genius of Brian Wilson. His intricate song structures, diverse instrumentation, and carefully arranged vocal harmonies were so far ahead of their time that people are still having trouble keeping up with him – and Pet Sounds came out 45 years ago. If any pop or rock musician had earned the right to call his music “teenage symphonies to God,” Brian Wilson was that man.

But we’re not here to talk about Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys. That band was one of the greatest of all time. No, we’re here to talk about what that band eventually became after Brian’s drug problems and mental illness sadly phased him out of the picture. By the late 1980s and early ‘90s they’d completely abandoned nearly all traces of their classic sound, creating some depressingly lousy music in the process.

Seriously, I was shocked to discover just how far this band had fallen. But I guess that’s what happens sometimes… When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands.

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When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands #4

I suppose it’s fitting that Pop is the album where U2 embraced irony the most, because it’s perhaps U2’s least popular album ever. I say “perhaps” because at least people might still be able to name a song from it. Quick — name a song from October. Any song from October. You have ten seconds and you’re not allowed to look at iTunes, Wikipedia, Amazon, or any other site that would give you the answers. Oh, and the title track doesn’t count.

Just how un-beloved is Pop? Even U2 themselves have all but abandoned this album. Only five of its 12 songs have been performed live since the PopMart Tour in 1997. They even stopped playing a few songs from Pop during the tour that was meant to promote it! The only Pop song they’ve played live in full since 2001 is “Discotheque.” And before they released All That You Can’t Leave Behind, the “comeback” album that “brought them back to their roots,” they said, “We’re reapplying for the position of best band in the world.” Translation: “Hey guys! Sorry Pop sucked so much! Our bad! Here, look, we’re going to stop all this wacky experimentation now! It’s okay to like us again!” Cue the opening chords of “Beautiful Day.”

Of course, when an experimental album contains the worst song of said band’s career, it’s easier to understand when people condemn them for stepping out of their comfort zone. That’s the kind of thing that happens… When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands.

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When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands #3

About a year ago Bloc Party released their third studio album Intimacy as an online download for ten bucks. The download featured ten songs (“Talons” was added for the CD release, along with a bunch of bonus tracks), and since iTunes was still charging 99 cents a song at the time it seemed fair enough. (Plus, like I said, they’re one of my favorite bands.) In the months leading up to the online release of the new album, they’d put out a couple of heavily electronic singles. First there was “Flux,” which is a straight-up synth-driven dance song, and then there was “Mercury,” which turned out to be the lead single from Intimacy.

While “Mercury” took some time to get used to (as opposed to the instantly catchy “Flux,” which I think should have been the lead single instead), I found myself wondering if Bloc Party was about to release their Kid A — that is, an album where an established rock band suddenly shifts gears and explores electronica. Their change in sound between Silent Alarm and A Weekend In The City, while perhaps not the most popular of decisions, at the very least showed that they were a band who were willing to try new things and didn’t want to make the same album twice. So when the download became available, I snatched it up and decided to give it a listen.

Three minutes later, I found myself hoping I hadn’t made a big mistake. I had been greeted with a song so violently chaotic, so disorienting and confusing, that perhaps it makes sense that it was named for the Greek god of war. And no, I don’t mean this guy…

Dont mess with Kratos. He knows more ways to kill you than probably exist.

Don't mess with Kratos. Dude is so badass that he can kill you in ways you didn't even know existed.

Bloc Party’s “Ares” is just another example of what happens… When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands.

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POTW #4: Save Up All These Songs

Hey everyone! It’s time once again for a new installment in my not-quite-weekly Picks Of The Week feature, as well as a teaser paragraph or two about what I’ve been up to lately or some sort of mini-rant which has little to nothing to do with any of the songs featured in this post. I just like to pretend that people care.

Here it is, the last week of summer, a season that appears to last a long time in the beginning and proves to be way way way too short. By this time next week, I will be back in College Park, Maryland, preparing to begin my final semester of college. You know that saying “time flies when you’re having fun”? Yeah, whoever made that up is full of crap. Time flies whether or not you’re having fun. That’s why it’s always been my belief that you should spend as much time having fun as you possibly can, which in turn explains why I put things off a lot. Now if I could just stop being so damn socially awkward, I would be able to more competently follow my own philosophy.

Anyway, I look forward to one more semester of bringing my favorite music to your ears. But for now, here’s a short list of songs I’ve really been digging lately… after the jump, of course.

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When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands #2

As anyone who’s listened to my show, read this blog, or glanced at the lengthy favorite music section on my Facebook page would know, My Morning Jacket is one of my favorite bands. It took me a while to get into their music, but it eventually happened, and once I fall for a band, I fall hard. The band that once bored my Limp-Bizkit-lovin’ teenage self is now a regular on Listen Up! playlists, and I await their next album/tour eagerly because I hear they’re fantastic live.

But even Jim James and the Jacket are just as prone as anyone else to writing a lousy song. And on their 2008 album Evil Urges, they unleashed a beast that’s left me shaking my head and reaching for the skip button ever since. Pitchfork called it “eye-poppingly annoying.” Magnet magazine compared the experience of listening to this song to “FBI lifers finding out J. Edgar Hoover liked wearing dresses on the weekends.”

My Morning Jacket called it “Highly Suspicious.” I’m calling it an example of what happens… When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands.

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Site Modifications!

Hey everyone. One last post for today, and then I’ll be done for now. I promise.

With the additions of the new features on my site, I’ve decided to make some changes in the navigation of the site. You’ll notice that there are certain tabs at the top of the home page that aren’t there anymore. You’ll also notice that there is a new tab called EXTRAS. I decided to tinker with the hierarchy of the site’s pages so the navigation bar doesn’t look so cluttered. This post is a guide to help you with the changes. There will also be a navigation guide added to the About page.

The Extras page is an index of all the stuff that isn’t directly related to my show — rants, Colin’s Collection (posts about albums I’ve bought), ENJOY THE GENIUS, Picks Of The Week, and my newest feature When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands can all be found there. To find ENJOY THE GENIUS, Colin’s Collection, and WBSHTGB, click Extras and then click Featured Series. Picks Of The Week now has its own page and there is a link to it on Extras.

There’s another new tab on the navigation bar called Minis, which is short for Mini-Playlists, which is an idea I have that (if all goes according to plan) will make this show a more interactive experience for YOU, the listener. Click the Minis tab and read all about it!

Top 5 will stay on the navigation bar because it is directly related to the show. Playlists will stay on the bar as well.

The Downloads page has been moved under the Show tab, and there is now a link to it on the Show page.

That should just about cover all the modifications, and hopefully it won’t be confusing. If you have any questions or comments about these changes, post them in the comment section for this post or the About page.


When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands #1

“You see, I think drugs have done some good for us. I really do. And if you don’t believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your tapes, and all your CDs and burn them. Because you know what? The musicians that made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years were real fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes.”

— Bill Hicks

Mr. Hicks had a point, you know. Some of the greatest music ever made was created by people who were stoned out of their minds. You name it, musicians have smoked or injected it. Hell, Keith Richards alone has probably singlehandedly sustained a few Third World economies. If he gets cremated when (if?) he dies, his ashes would probably give you the most incredible buzz in the history of mankind.

But of course musicians are only human. Not every song they create is going to be a classic. Even the greatest musicial minds are prone to churning out some clunkers. Nobody’s immune to failure. And no matter how high you get, a lousy song is just a lousy song.

This is what happens… When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands.

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