“Don't believe the hype.” It's been nearly 23 years since Public Enemy first issued this warning, but lately it seems that few have heeded their wise advice. In 2010, hype seemed to be at an all time high. Big record labels were dropping serious money marketing on a few releases, apparently hoping that one big wave could raise all ships. But unfortunately, some of these releases deserved to sink. Here are our suggestions for the Top 5 Most Disappointing Musical Hypes of 2010:
When the first clips of Salem began to leak to the populace, their freaky synth mutilations spawned music journos to deem them the first in a new genre of music: Witch House. With blown out bass drums, dirty south crunk synth, and spookily delayed vocal tracks, the sound was fresh and full of promise. Then when Salem released “King Night,” the reality of Witch House became apparent: It's nearly impossible to listen to an entire album of Witch House. A shot of Salem feels good, but a whole bottle will make you sick.
4. “Bed Intruder Song”
by Tay Zonday
Sometimes over hyping happens to bad songs, but in the case of “The Bed Intruder Song,” it was hyped for all the wrong reasons. Most of the media attention on the song (by the Gregory Brothers) pinned it down as a joke. We saw various cover songs, Halloween Costumes, and other creative responses tsunami across the internet, all acknowledging how funny this song is. Of course, Antoine Dodson's humorous delivery during that news video was certainly fodder for parody, but behind the joke, few acknowledged the truth: the “Bed Intruder Song” is the best rap/hip hop song of the year.
3. Vampire Weekend – Contra
In 2008, Vampire Weekend seemed to make some sense [Ed.'s note: not to Ed. it didn't.]. But in 2010, no longer is Vampire Weekend's hipster tickle party entertaining, nor their global beat gleaning interesting. Why not listen to the originals? With the increasing number of great reissues of albums from Africa like Now and Again's fantastic psych-rock cuts from Zambia, why not just go to the source? And “Horchata”? Really? It's like a ad jingle for gentrification.
2. M.I.A. – MAYA
In just a few years, M.I.A. went from throwing parties to throwing tantrums. 2010 saw the once innovative artist lash out at the media, her audiences, and just about everyone via her Twitter feed. Her tantrums brought huge amount of internet attention as gawkers wondered whether she was worth all the bravado and hype she was throwing out into the universe. Media outlets were frothing for interviews. Then she dropped her lackluster album MAYA, and the phones stopped ringing for M.I.A.
The album's mediocrity starts with the album cover. Scroll bars? Really? M.I.A. started her career as a visual artist, and a good one at that, but she gave the thumbs up to what essentially looked like a computer over run with nudie site pop ups? Thanks, M.I.A.
As for the music, there are some moments where the beats get nice and dirty, but the production is all over the place. She had numerous producers on the project, so this is to be expected, but tracks like the pop-princess wannabe “XXXO” seem like she just phoned in her performance and let the producers do the rest. Her former beau and on-again-off-again producer even confirmed that she “didn't care about the album.” And it shows.
For one, she basically just covered Suicide's “Ghost Rider,” while mumbling incoherently over the (actually pretty sweet) drum line. Then she yells, “Born Free!” Somehow that becomes a political statement, about that movie with lions, or that Kid Rock song , or an ironic statement about people born into the poverty. We all know, M.I.A. really cares about the little people. Like gingers. Now just six months after she was the hype of the internet, she's vanished without a trace.
Ed's p.s.: there's always a silver lining–thanks M.I.A. for introducing “to truffle-fry” an interviewee as a verb.]
And the NUMBER ONE MOST DISAPPOINTING MUSICAL HYPE OF 2010 was…
1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
So, did I really watch Kayne's 30 minute video-movie, that mind-stabbingly awkward George Bush interview with Matt Lauer, and listen to weeks of Kanye's free friday shit just to listen to him “rap” about taking pictures of his dick? Apparently, yes I did.
Yes, the beats are nice, the instrumentation is mostly lush and interesting, and we all know that Kanye is a stronger producer than lyricist, but really? Dick pix?
Recently there has been a growing disconnect between lyrics and music in mainstream rap. Hip hop and rap began as a lyric-based art from, where beats were secondary to a wordsmith's lyrical prowess. You can listen to a 10 second clip from some 70's funk song for five minutes, only if the rapper keeps you on your toes. Recently, rap has become all about the beat, and a “dance” beat at that. They're looking for overseas markets where people still buy CDs, and they don't really care what a rapper is saying. The lyrics are just tacked on because this new breed of mainstream rappers think their audiences are just listening to the steady kick drum of mindless rave rap.
West's new album doesn't quite go the way of the glowstick, and, on the contrary the beats and production value is top notch. It's a great album, except for one thing: Kanye West. Put someone else up front like Nocando or, why not, let's dust off Q-Tip, Ghostface or Zach De La Rocha, and this would album would cook. With West's rapping straight off his twitter feed, this “Fantasy” is just flaccid.
Who else do you think was over hyped? Let us know in the comments!
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