The Swarm

April 23, 2012

The Week In Hate: Easy Targets Special Edition...

TDS Editors

Welcome to this week’s special edition of “The Week In Hate,” focusing on the bloodying of easy targets. So why easy targets, you ask? Because that seems to be what everyone else seems to be focusing on – apparently, everyone is as slack as we are, or maybe culture is just in a dullsville zone right now. Anyways, if we’re going to go the easy-target route, we might as well stick to the easiest of them: Creed. Yes, Creed – possibly the most maligned band in all of rock (except maybe Nickelback, who even we can’t write about any more). Creed have so set the standard for irrelevant and banal, we’re surprised to ever see mention of them in print. You kind of have to go out of your way to say anything at all about them – that’s why we were chuffed to find The New Yorker, of all forums, sticking it to Stapp & co. in a concert listing of all things. Now, as a writing genre, ye olde typical concert listing usually proves a toothless, expository affair, but the following is just damning praise – well, minus the “praise” part:

Creed is perhaps the only group in rock history to find itself hit with a class-action lawsuit simply for playing a terrible show. In 2003, dissatisfied concertgoers sued the group after a lacklustre pomp-rock performance in Illinois. The case was eventually dismissed, but the legacy lives on.

Yo, Scott – rock and roll never forgets!

What usually makes something an easy target? Well, usually, it has to be popular – especially with people who are, like, part of “the masses” (i.e., people who used to like Creed). Of late, Coachella has become such a target, especially among the media pundits who anointed it North America’s most important music festival; now that it’s one of the biggest, well, uh… Not so much. That was clear in The New York Times’ roundup of Coachella 2012, which led like this:

Does Coachella have an aura? It did once.

Oooh, ouch. Of course, this is the article that noted how the current popularity of “dance music… is likely to alter Coachella’s future more than any of the genres it has flirted with over the years.” Huh, considering Coachella grew largely out of Southern California rave culture and has featured electronic/dance music prominently since its first ever outing, “flirted with” seems a little off base, oh paper of record. Personally, we dug ever-dependable (and hateful) Nitsuh Abebe over at New York magazine, who actually said something fresh (and nasty) about the most overplayed meme to come straight outta Indio – the Tupac hologram, aka iTupac, which Abebe imagined is

what cosplay is for comic-book nerds… In that sense, maybe iTupac is just a necessary way station on his journey through the often-chintzy world of being an icon – out there among the folk heroes and airbrush-art muses, with Mickey Mouse and the Elvis impersonators and the Mona Lisa that people draw mustaches on. Leading inexorably to the point where his abs are as much a part of the western brain, or at least its T-shirts-and-cartoons lobe, as Marilyn Monroe’s mole or the Leaning Tower of Pisa or The Scream, and the concept of showing “respect” toward any aspect of his memory seems bizarre and pointless.The novelty factor would rapidly wear off, and people would begin to feel like they were just standing in a room together watching someone playing Tupac: The Video Game on a very large and detailed screen, and a kind of weird strained depression would settle over the whole endeavor.

Also shocking: this LA Times post about how Coachella after-parties aren’t exclusive enough any more – like, those people from “the masses” can even get in! The writer rues the Coachellas past where you

would feel like someone when [one] finally did get in. (What’s that line about not wanting to be a part of a club that would have you as a member? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.) A mile down the road at the Ace Hotel, which has long held the mantle of being one of the most reassuringly difficult parties to get into, the situation wasn’t much better. While the L.A.-based club Do Over spun tunes, guests waltzed through the doors at will. Even the fashion-challenged went unchecked as evidenced by a man who literally skipped in wearing tie dye (?!) and a green bandanna. Still the music was fresh and dance floor lively. But something was missing from this year’s crop of hotel parties. Perhaps the 10-day, double-weekend festival sprawl had diluted the fierce must-party-now imperative of years past. Whatever it was, it made it possible for just about anybody to sit by the pool.

We’re hoping and praying the above was intended as ironic. Otherwise, uh… WOW.

Like Coachella, MTV was once a sacred cow, considered a locus of everything hip, the home of innovative visuals and oh yeah, music. Now, MTV is the home of “Jersey Shore” – a ratings powerhouse, sure, but the fount of everything uncool about pop culture. In its prime, MTV could make or break an artist’s career – there was respect (and fear) in the relationship. Now, musicians literally could give a fuck – literally. Case in point: Rihanna. Now, Ri-Ri caused controversy in recent days because she apparently rolled a blunt in public on some dude’s head. Apparently, MTV got their tsk-tsk on, and Rihanna responded with a rebel yell on Twitter heard round the world:

”@MTV…Yikes…@rihanna ran out of fucks to give.”

Rihanna also did a whole bunch of defending herself to her fans via Twitter. It was all very self-important, deflated nicely in this tweet response by Questlove:

Sheeeeeeeeeeit mine is RT @rihanna: Our happiness is not dependent on whether or not other ppl do what we want them to do

Getting back to the Creed zone – almost kind of a relief, really – we loved this recent piece in The New York Times by Jon Caramanica reviewing new albums from Train and Jason Mraz. Titled “Rock’s Most Benign Satisfactions,” it was a key example of a rock critic being forced to review something because it’s popular, but so boring to be almost beneath contempt. Some juicy bits:

Pick your poison: the simp or the cad. Being held through the night or getting a high five on the way out the door. Warm and fuzzy or cold and brusque. Pretty lies or ugly truth. Jason Mraz, well, he would never hurt you… Both [Train and Mraz] indicated the continuing vitality — if not originality — of soft rock, a genre maligned to the bones but stubborn… [Mraz’s new album] filled with platitudes and, eventually, psychobabble, dippy even by Mr. Mraz’s standards… And then there’s the title song [of Train’s album], which seethes with resentment…: “Here’s to those who didn’t think that Train could ever roll again/You were the fuel that I used when inspiration hit a dead end.” The candor is insipid, and almost admirable.

What was that we said about “damning praise” up top?

In the U.K., the Queen is the easiest of targets – that’s why the Sex Pistols wrote the song “God Save The Queen” to get attention: slag her off, and well, those stiff upper lips start to curl in merry olde England! But as years pass, that which was incendiary becomes quaint, and that’s apparently happened to the Pistols’ anti-royalty anthem. How do we know? Because they’re reissuing the song as part of the celebration for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, an “international celebration throughout 2012 marking the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the thrones of seven countries upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952.” Not surprisingly, professional miscreant John Lydon – once Johnny Rotten of yore – was not pleased. Per Pitchfork:

“This campaign completely undermines what the Sex Pistols stood for… This is not my campaign. I am pleased that the Sex Pistols recordings are being put out there for a new generation, however, I wish for no part in the circus that is being built up around it.”

Now for some real hate: nothing inspired the stuff more than the shooting of Trayvon Martin – that tragedy has ripped apart the nation. So we weren’t surprised when savvy music writer/editor Jessica Suarez (time to trademark that ish, Jess!) got ill on comedian/rapper Childish Gambino over a line in a new song, “Eat Your Vegetables”:

There’s a part where Donald Glover [aka Childish Gambino] raps, “I die for my hood/ Trayvon.” Really? It’s just so surprisingly tone-deaf and dumb, especially for someone so smart, to reduce Martin to a punchline. The joke reference (especially sitting next to, say his “Heartbeat” line [“Made the beat and murdered it/ Casey Anthony]) in a small way reinforces the victim-blaming. Also, the reference is different and worse because Casey Anthony wasn’t a victim.

Popdust, meanwhile, weighed in with this:

That’s some opportunistic, sketchy shit / George Zimmerman. (It’s particularly bad considering the hip-hop community’s been actively supporting the Trayvon Martin case, including numerous actually sincere tracks…)

Suarez mentions that, unlike Pitchfork, she actually likes Childish Gambino and will excuse this glitch. Us, we love Childish Gambino, too, and are actually just psyched rappers are spitting lines people actually care about debating…

Speaking of being worthy of debate, we personally never thought The Dandy Warhols were worth any – like, they’re called “The Dandy Warhols”! That’s the stupidest name in all of rock. We’ve always thought this band was boring as shit. Therefore, we end with this nicely bitter blurb preceding Pitchfork’s review of the band’s new record:

Given its promising start, you might be inclined to place the Dandy Warhols’ ninth LP on the level of the alt-rock band’s first three records. But then it keeps going.

Just like hate… And that’s all folks! [Ed.: Next week, please do not end on such a sucky cliché.]

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