Now that the dust has settled, let’s return to the latest U2 album, Songs of Innocence, and get to the bottom of it, shall we? What say we ignore the media hullabaloo, the obligatory mini-biography insert, the wooden appraisal of legacy, you know, the standard machinery of criticism in general, and just focus on the songs on hand?
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In 2008, Weezer released “Pork and Beans” and “Troublemaker”, the first two singles off their third self-titled album, colloquially referred to as “The Red Album”. In these songs, frontman Rivers Cuomo takes a stand to say that he’s “doin’ things [his] own way and never giving up” and that he “ain’t got a thing to prove to you.” It’s not hard to see this as him shrugging off the criticisms that the band faced since the early ‘00s, when they streamlined their sound into something a little more pristine and a lot more goofy and frivolous.
In Noisey’s British Masters interview series, there is an exchange from the episode spotlighting once-and-future Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr that delights me to no end. When asked what the impulse behind his laying down a fist pump-inducing solo on the Smiths single “Shoplifters of the World Unite” was, the normally anti-rockist Marr first searches for the right words, then simply admits it felt right to just go for it (well, his actual phrasing was far more blunt—the curious can view the footage for his uncensored phrasing below). Marr then expresses his joy at watching a YouTube video featuring some long-hair dude rocking out to the solo in question (“It was worth it just for that guy’s response”), and goes on to state he never took a shine to heavy metal, only to then immediately recount the time the Smiths (“That’s everybody in the band”, he relishes emphasizing to the interviewer) went to a Van Halen concert. Fixating mainly on Eddie Van Halen’s pleased-to-be-here approach to performing, Marr recalls, “It was so brilliant to see someone sort of carried away by, like, dumb-ass rock ‘n’ roll, you know, and how brilliant he was.”
The United States is at an absolutely terrifying tipping point, and it’s all because of one terrifying number: “1%-2%”.
You see, ever since Napster and the music industry’s best year ever being at the peak of the millennial boy-band boom, physical album sales have gradually declined as digital has slowly inched its way towards becoming the dominant musical format. We’ve seen articles about this time and time again, and it wasn’t too long ago that a video went viral wherein modern children were asked to try and play music on a Walkman, and they were hilariously confused.
I first came into contact with GWAR when I was about 13 years old. This would have been about 1993 when my friends and I somehow came across a copy of GWAR’s album America Must Be Destroyed in the only record store in the small town in Northern California where I grew up. This was the high era of grunge, and the music that we were listening to took itself very seriously. Like so many young kids, we looked to popular music for examples of the kinds of people we wanted to be. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Smashing Pumpkins suggested the possibility of channeling our feelings of awkward pre-teen alienation into something cool, or at least fashionable.