The Hunt for the Worst Album of All Time

moonmaster

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Videogum has an excellent series called The Hunt for the Worst Movie of All Time. I am totally copying the **** out of it.

I personally have a tendency to give up on an album if I'm not being satisfied with it. If the first few tracks are boring me, I simply turn it off. This is actually a habit that I'd like to stop, because in writing reviews for Opinz, I'm not required to listen to anything, but I'd like to be able to look at things as objectively as possible. Hopefully in subjecting myself to the worst of the worst, I will be more willing to listen to crap so that people know what to look out for.

I'll ask for suggestions, though I'm going to be "researching" on my own time as well. This has to be something moderately well known, that doesn't fit into some terribly obscure genre. I'm sure there are plenty of EuropeanProtoCrustPunkIndustrialNoiseDrone bands who have recorded albums that are 50 minutes of guitar feedback. Not what I'm looking for. My initial list of albums I'm considering should give you an idea of what I'm getting at:

K. Fed - Playing with Fire
Garth Brooks - In the Life of Chris Gaines
Mariah Carey - Glitter
Aaron Carter - Aaron Carter
Soulja Boy - Souljaboytellem.com
Tokio Hotel - Anything by them, since I think they've actually released several albums.
Velvet Underground - Squeeze
Metallica - St. Anger

Further suggestions are welcome.

I will post my first review sometime in the next week.
 
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moonmaster

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The Hunt for the Worst Album of All Time, Round 1:

AlbumHunt-PlayingWithFire-Cover.jpg


Kevin Federline, Playing With Fire (2006)

Playing With Fire is the debut and so-far only album by one Kevin Federline. If you're not familiar with Federline, he was the back-up dancer that Britney Spears married because she needed someone to spend all her money and fill her with gross wigger jizz. The album's Wikipedia page describes Federline as both a rapper and an "American personality". That's great. I'm going to start calling myself that. Like, if I'm ever asked to describe what I do, I'm going to say that I'm an American personality. This is 2008, people. You can totally do that now.

Federline originally positioned himself under the MC name "K-Fed" and - as one would hope and expect - was mocked relentlessly by the media. Note that he drops the moniker for this album in favor of his full name, clearly telling you of the classy, professional content that you'll find within. (NOT) On a side note, "Kevin Federline" is the worst rap name ever. And he actually refers to himself a few times on the album under his whole name. Sorry, Kev, but Kanye can only get away with not using a stagename because his name isn't "Federline", which sounds like some bizarre, German, cheese-centric dish.

Playing With Fire is where I decided to begin because it's widely regarded as one of the biggest musical failures of the past decade. The album is the lowest rated album on Metacritic since it's inception in 1999, and sold a mere 16,000 copies before they took the CD out of production. According to Wikipedia:

The "Playing with Fire" concert tour was also a commercial disaster. In New York City, Federline performed before an estimated audience of 300 out of a total seating capacity of 1,500 at Webster Hall, with only one-third of attendees remaining by the end of the concert. Although many of the tickets were given away for free, approximately three-quarters of the seats at his Chicago performance remained empty. Four of the eight scheduled tour performances (Cleveland, Atlantic City, Anaheim, and San Diego) were ultimately cancelled.

Ouch. At least he actually, shockingly enough, has a long-running and still active fan blog. Its author claimed that K-Fed's album is "probably some of the most sincere urban storytelling you'll hate to admit you like." LOLgasm. I'm surprised that they had enough time to write that review, considering that they must've been busy buying those 16,000 CDs that no one else in the world could logically want to buy. Actually, on second thought, that blog is probably run by K-Fed himself.

K-Fed's tag cloud at Last.fm should give you a pretty good idea of how people usually respond to his music:

AlbumHunt-PlayingWithFire-Tags.jpg

Before delving into the gooey innards of Playing With Fire, let's take a look at a Brief History of White Boy Rapping.

AlbumHunt-PlayingWithFire-BriefHist.jpg

A popular resource for all White Boy Rapologists.

White Boy Rapping experts initially theorized that White Boys could not, in fact, rap. This theory was proven wrong in 2000 with the release of The Marshall Mathers LP and the advent of "Em Theory". The truth of the matter is that "the ability to rap" originates from two key sources, talent for putting words together on your feet and songwriting skills, and simple swagger. There are lot of black people who have the latter but lack the former. Anyone who went into a fairly well mixed public school could tell you that every black guy thinks he's got xtra siiick rhymin' skillzz, and a very large percentage of them actually don't. Soulja Boy is like, the source from which half of these guys were apparently cloned. But they can, at least, get by on having the kind of swagger that most White Boys lack. K-Fed has some swagger (that he can't back up) but lacks any kind of talent. Which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

His rhymes are nothing to write home about (if you do indeed write home to your parents when you hear some phat rhymes) and the beats are completely forgettable. K-Fed has a bewildering habit of changing his voice, switching between a smooth blackcent on some tracks and a rough, whispery, sort of growl on others, as if he's David Caruso trying his hand at hip hop. Whoever the **** produced this album decided that every line should be followed by a whispered voice repeating the last word, which is one of the cheesiest hip-hop effects ever devised, ranking along side auto-tuner, steel drums, and Ja Rule. Even the hooks are pretty boring. With the amount of "pop rap" stuff that's been released in this last decade, how hard is it to write a damn memorable hook? Couldn't you hire T.I. for like, $50 a line or something?

As one would expect, the lyrics are truly where the hilarity lies. K-Fed is mainly concerned with a few key things: how much money he (apparently) has, how much he likes to party, how much cooler and tougher he is than you, how he hates everyone and everything for vague reasons, and how he smokes massive, incredible, mindblowing amounts of weed. He revisits all of these themes constantly, on nearly every track, to the point where few of them are even thematically different at all. Really, you could think of it as a concept album. K-Fed probably conceived of this as being the Dark Side of the Moon of this generation, probably whilst forcibly inserting a bong into his anus because he already has seventeen spliffs in his mouth.

The album begins with an insanely inexplicable "intro": a chorus of children say "Grandpa, can you tell me a story about when you were young" and a voice that sounds like DJ Bobo telling vampires to get alive answers with a rich laugh and "Gather 'round, children". Oh boy. Then comes the montage of actors portraying newscasters doubting the legitimacy of K-Fed's marriage to Britney Spears, his talent as a rapper, and his parenting skills. Oh boy. Then a door smashes open, footsteps, wood creaking and breaking, a table flipped over, a glass breaks, a bird squawks and swords unsheath. The next track begins with the line "I'm a pirate on the sea, call me Captain Hook/Everything belong to me, every cranny and nook". Ooh boy.

With the intro, he establishes the point of the album: answering his critics, leaving a legacy for his grandchildren (sorry K-Fed's grandchildren), and...being a pirate. Okay. That next track is called "World is Mine" but is not a Nas rip-off Scarface homage, but is (I **** you not) built around K-Fed positioning himself as some kind of Pirate of the Carribbean. I went into Playing With Fire expecting absolute mediocrity. What I was not expecting was just how WTF this would be. It's like K-Fed ran out of synonyms for "cash", "weed" and "**** you" and just filled it with whatever insane **** he could think of, believing that no one would pay close enough attention to notice. He obviously did not count on geeks with too much time on their hands.

There are the times when he throws around confusingly bizarre slang. From "Snap": "I'm drinkin' French Connection, blowin' on Broccoli/You got lil' dough, I got cake with no icing/K-Federline, I snap like Mike Tyson" See, I don't know what that means, K-Fed. At other points, individual lines make sense, but are combined incoherently. Like on "America's Most Hated":

They watch me
So I duck and roll
Middle fingers still up sayin' **** the globe
And my dawgs still down
We don't trust them hoes
I live life like a King
I was extra stoned
Kevin Federline -
I come tight with every rhyme
I built a kingdom down the street from pepperdine
This marijuana got me heavily sedated
I'm Kevin Federline

America's most hated (what!)


Yes, what? It's like he gets bored every five words and starts talking about something else. Except what he talks about is inevitably something he just talked about ten lines ago but forgot, because oh my god he's so ****ing high. During "Crazy" - between the horribly-sung Britney Spears guest spot choruses - we can see another example of such WTF lyrics:

When the pen hits the pad
It's in the left hand
Every single word is worth thirty grand
Or maybe more
Don't think they understand
How much cake the pancake man had
So heavy like weight
Moving upstate
Care for my rhyme
Like the crime rate
I flick with your boy
The prince of the bay
Sit back, day to day
Got two back packs
Resno on one
LA in other
Whilst I'm holding my sons
As I march through the valley of the shadow of death
Daughter on my chest
Wife on my left
Let's go


That's clearly some of the most sincere urban storytelling you'll hate to admit you like. That actually reminds me of another strange tendency K-Fed has: referring to himself as "the pancake man" or some variation there of. I have no idea why he's "the pancake man", and I don't recall any moment on the album where he explains it. He just starts calling himself that and talking about pancakes all the ****ing time. He mentions pancakes like, five times. Closer "Kept On Talkin'" features a chorus of "Pancake, pancake, pancake, I'm that bad!" No, really. I suppose the pancake thing explains this rhyme from "Dance With a Pimp", sort of:

Hair was out of style, I cut ten inches
Then I put 30 G's in my dentures
Now that's pimpin'
Never simpin'
I know your girl wanna come dance with a Bisquick


This is not the lamest reference that K-Fed makes on Playing With Fire. On the title track, he says "I'm like Val Kilmer, I'm bringin' this heat". I didn't even know that Val Kilmer was in Heat. I had to Google that ****. I haven't seen Heat, so maybe someone could tell me what the point of referencing Val Kilmer would be, instead of say, frequent gangster rap icons Robert De Niro or Al Pacino? Is K-Fed a Val Kilmer fan? Are there some unreleased tracks where he sings about Top Gun and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang? Just a second or two later, he ends a line by sing-songing "Because of the wonderful things he does!" So gangsta.

There are some seriously LOL-inducing moments here. On "America's Most Hated", Federline warns "Little boys we can get it on/Watch your back". To quote someone far more talented than Kevin Federline:

[youtube]quncxbEl5Fs[/youtube]

Someone needs to take that man's children from him, now. Besides such hilarious parts, most of Playing With Fire is just what you'd expect, tired, boring platitudes about K-Fed's money and status. "I've got 50 mil I can do whatever I want." Such boasting is made hilarious by the fact that K-Fed is such a joke. He acts as if he should command respect, but it's not like he even earned any of that money. He just lucked into a disastrous relationship with a wayward pop star. In the long run, K-Fed is going to be about as culturally relevant and important as Joe the Plumber. And no one wants to listen to an album by Joe the Plumber.

This is perhaps the reason why Playing With Fire is really so terrible. The American people have demonstrated an incredible lack of taste this decade, but even we aren't dumb enough to think that an album of music by Kevin Federline deserves our time or money. The man got famous just by marrying and impregnating someone else who was famous. Then he decided to release an album, but his album literally has no point, except perhaps as a joke, and a joke that - despite the fun I've had with it here - is really not worth actually sitting and listening to. The music is nothing, the rapping is nothing, and Federline has no story to tell. Hopefully, when he has grandchildren he'll be old enough to have realized that his life was a waste and he has nothing of note to tell them. Most people could, in some way, justify their existence, but Kevin Federline has failed at this simple task. He has nothing interesting to say and doesn't do anything to benefit anyone else and in the end can't even do anything to benefit himself. He has essentially proven that he is a pointless human being.

Of course, I sound pretty harsh. According to all the entertainment news sources, K-Fed has stepped up as a dad since Britney went super-cuckoo and I think he's getting married again or something. Good for him. Those are some good excuses to exist. Let's just hope he never picks up a microphone again.

Because this is some terrible ****.

I'll leave you with one of the more hilarious lines from Playing With Fire:

"Cab looked better than a couple pair of Grammy's"

Now how would you ever know what those look like, Kevin?
 
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moonmaster

Without him, all of you would be lost souls roamin
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I don't know how this will be topped. It's so horrible, in exactly the way I was looking for. Soulja Boy might be up to the task.
I'm tempted to give it a listen now...
It's not totally unlistenable...it's just very, very pointless.
That is the best line.
He's so obsessed with pancakes and I don't know why. Is it a reference or something?
 

Planet-man

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This is hilarious. One of the many reasons I love the internet - you can go on and thoroughly deconstruct something you hate and then be satisfied, rather than real life where these things are deemed too trivial.

(I'm being sincere)

Also, I remember one line of his most of all, something like "Don't hate me because I'm a superstar/and I'm married to a superstar/there's no coming between what we are" which was then the most infuriating and now the most satisfyingly hilarious line ever.
 

moonmaster

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Maybe he's really good at stompin' people that get up in his grill, he stomps them flat like a pancake.
He's says something, in reference to his pancake-ness, about "flipping" something. But I don't think that sufficiently explains why he's the pancake man.
This is hilarious. One of the many reasons I love the internet - you can go on and thoroughly deconstruct something you hate and then be satisfied, rather than real life where these things are deemed too trivial.

(I'm being sincere)

Also, I remember one line of his most of all, something like "Don't hate me because I'm a superstar/and I'm married to a superstar/there's no coming between what we are" which was then the most infuriating and now the most satisfyingly hilarious line ever.
What's funny is that that line doesn't actually make any sense.

It's like he started writing "there's no coming between us" and then realized at the last second that it didn't rhyme.
[youtube]-QSlEk1VCxE[/youtube]
Oh god. That gave actually gave me a headache. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it through Soulja Boy.

St. Anger will likely be the next subject. I just downloaded it.
 

thee great one

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Oh god. That gave actually gave me a headache. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it through Soulja Boy.

"Throw some D's on it!"

I think that puppet should do all his videos. I would watch them.


St. Anger will likely be the next subject. I just downloaded it.


I don't think St.Anger could be classified as a worst album of all time. I mean it was bad, not that bad.
 

moonmaster

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The Hunt for the Worst Album of All Time, Round 2:

AlbumHunt-StAnger-Cover.jpg


Metallica, St. Anger (2003)

In the second round of the Hunt for the Worst Album of All Time, we're taking a look at St. Anger. This is mainly because of E, who hates this thing with a dark, fiery passion that he usually only reserves for mask squinting and Robert Smith. I don't want to speak for him, but I think it's safe to say that if St. Anger was a person, he would pay good money to skull-rape it to death, and then probably pee on it or something. He really doesn't like it.

The album has a mostly mixed reputation. Some like it, many are neutral towards it. Pitchfork hated it so much that they wrote one of their most pretentious reviews ever about it. (Which is saying something for Pitchfork.) I went into it unsure of what I would hear. I'm not a metal fan by any measure and had never heard a Metallica album before. I was worried if I'd even be able to properly judge it's quality. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I can safely say that St. Anger sucks ****ing donkey balls.

The first thing one notices about St. Anger is the production. Producer Bob Rock said that they were trying to capture the sound of "a band jamming together in a garage for the first time, and the band just happened to be Metallica". That band also just happens to suck. I quite like "lo-fi" music. I think not giving everything a glitzy sheen can add a great sense of space, like you're in the studio with the band. See: My Morning Jacket, The Walkmen, Department of Eagles. In other cases it can just make the music sound like a noisy, unprofessional mess that no one wants to hear. See: Metallica.

The guitar work is deplorable. When we did that music exchange thing (that I gave up on because it didn't seem like anyone was all that interested) and Hellsbuttmonkey had us listen to My Bloody Valentine, I found that the thing I appreciate most about metal is the amount of talent behind the guitar work. Everything sounds like a solo. They might not be top-notch song writers but they know how to do crazy things with a guitar. I'm aware that Metallica has done plenty of solos in the past, but they're totally absent in St. Anger. All that's left is boring riffs played on down-tuned guitars. If Jimi Hendrix's guitar playing was like making love with music, this is like slowly humping a pile of mud.

Lars Ulrich's drumming is pretty terrible too. It sounds like he's banging on trashcans with hammers. It's dull, flat, clangy, and it seems to serve no purpose. Besides, it's so buried within the album's wall of noise, who cares. James Hetfield growls and sneers out ever line with a voice who's sense of anger or power has long since dissipated. It's funny to think that he still believes his voice has much of an effect. It's as familiar to people's ears as Bono's. These guys are professional musicians and they sound like ****ing amateurs. The copy of the album that I downloaded was actually ripped from a CD that skipped at several points. At first I thought this was intentional, and then was disappointed that it wasn't, since it would've been more interesting than anything actually done on the album.

And the worst part is that it goes on forever. The two most indulgent camps in the realm of popular music are rappers and metal bands, incapable of making albums that are any less than an hour long. This thing goes on for 75 minutes! There are moments where I thought it was never going to end. Every song is between 5 and 8 minutes long, and none of them sound like they should be over maybe 4 minutes long, or, y'know, any minutes long. They just go on and on with the same riffs. I have no opposition to long songs. There are songs that can totally justify it. None of these songs can do that. I get it, you guys want to pretend that you're really terrible musicians and yell at me about how you're angry about things and stuff.

That brings me to the lyrics, which were for more hilarious and poorly written than I ever could have imagined. The opening track, "Frantic", sets the tone:

If I could have have my wasted days back
Would I use them to get back on track?
Stop to warm at karmas burning
Or look ahead, but keep on turning?

Do I have the strength
To know how I'll go?
Can I find it inside
To deal with what I shouldn't know?

Could I have my wasted days back
Would I use them to get back on track?

You live it or lie it!

My lifestyle determines my deathstyle

Keep searching, keep on searching
This search goes on, this search goes on

Frantic tick tick tick tick tick tick tock
Frantic tick tick tick tick tick tick tock


That search obviously didn't lead him to a thesaurus, or to any kind of writing talent. There are so many things wrong with those lyrics, I don't even know where to begin. "My lifestyle determines my deathstyle" is a lyrical offense on the level of "Are we human or are we dancer?" I don't know what that even means. What is a deathstyle? Is this like, an anti-smoking PSA? Metallica do their best to sound brutal, but are hardly convincing. "Some Kind of Monster" features some bizarre chanting near the end, and "All Within My Hand" closes out the album with Hetfield horsely shouting "Kill! Kill! Kill!" All of this just comes off as funny when you imagine these guys going home to their mansions after their recording sessions. "I'd totally beat the **** out of you because I don't even give a **** and I'm so angry, but my manager probably wouldn't advise it and my wife would be really mad." You have to have something to back it up, guys. Those death metal guys are scary because they operate so far out of the mainstream. Avril Lavigne covers your songs. I've never heard Avril Lavigne cover a Mayhem song. Though I'd love to hear one if it's floating around out there somewhere.

The first few tracks all feature laughable choruses. On "St. Anger", Hetfield shouts "I'm madly in anger with you". Okay. On "Some Kind of Monster" he asks "We the people/Are we the people?" Yes, I guess I am a person, and that most other people are also people. Thank you for making me ponder such an interesting question for 1 second. "Dirty Window" actually features these lyrics:

Projector
Protector
Rejector
Infector
Projector
Rejector
Infector
Infector
Dejector
Rejector


Or take the opening verse of "Invisible Kid":

Invisible kid
Never see what he did
Got stuck where he did
Fallen through the grid
Invisible kid
Got a place of his own
Wher he'll never be known
Inward he's grown


Adult men wrote these words. Like, middle-aged guys who've been doing this for a long time. These lyrics sound like they were written by a 13-year-old.

ht_american_teen_080128_ms.jpg

Professional songwriter.

One can only imagine the songwriting process:

AlbumHunt-StAnger-MetallicaSongwrit.jpg
Deleted scene from the "Some Kind of Monster" documentary.​

In the end, St. Anger is probably not a very good candidate for the worst album of all time. Playing With Fire was far sillier and more poorly thought out. But St. Anger is certainly an atrocity in it's own unique way. At this point, I have completely refrained from mentioning Metallica's war on file-sharing. As many remember, Metallica was the first musical act to file suit against Napster. The resultant slew of lawsuits caused Napster to soon go out of business and forever set the music industry at odds with the internet.

The funny thing is that Metallica was implying in their actions that they were producing pieces of art that had real value, and managed to prove three years later that that was complete bull****. They want people to pay for their music but they decide to suddenly abandon their former style, not in favor of something new or more interesting, but in favor of some kind of "lo-fi" ploy that just made them sound crappier than ever before. And they still managed to spend millions of dollars on it. Even the event that resulted in the suing of Napster makes them look silly: a song of theirs leaked early on Napster, a song they'd done for the Mission: Impossible II soundtrack. Wow, you guys sure keep it real.

They went on some big crusade in the name of art and supporting artists and then produced something on the level of a child's finger painting. I have only one thing to say:

AlbumHunt-StAnger-EffyouMetallicab.gif
 
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E

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Lars Ulrich's drumming is pretty terrible too. It sounds like he's banging on trashcans with hammers. It's dull, flat, clangy, and it seems to serve no purpose.

Yes - EXACTLY.

It's not enough that the songs are poorly written and the lyrics awful. The production on it was terrible - so much so that Metallica decided to go with a different producer for their next (infinitely better) album.
 

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