Thursday, October 23, 2008

Band of the Decade

I've been partaking in a running discussion about a potential Band of the Decade for the decade currently winding down. The discussion began when Ek made the claim that there isn't a potential Band of the Decade, due to the fractured nature of the current musical landscape. While he has some valid points, for better or for worse, I think Fall Out Boy have established themselves as the Band of the Decade (BotD). Let's talk about why.

Sales aren't everything, but sales are a lot. Jimmy Eat World was discussed as a possible dark horse BotD, but let's take three bands and break it down, cajun-style.

Jimmy Eat World
While Clarity was their artistic apex, it's also the album that got them dropped from Capitol Records (and probably led to their focus on strictly pop-rock songs). Their following albums sold better:
Bleed American: 1.3 million (platinum)
Futures: 615,000 (gold)
Chase This Light: 164,000+ (according to the most recent numbers I could find, 01/08)

Fall Out Boy
Though many see Take This To Your Grave as FOB's most impressive/powerful/noteworthy album, they too found more success in its aftermath.
Take This To Your Grave: certified gold
From Under the Cork Tree: certified triple platinum
Infinity on High: platinum

"Nickelback?" you ask? Well, I'm trying not to be biased, and also show that numbers alone don't make a BotD. Just witness:
Silver Side Up: 5.3 million in the US, 10 million worldwide
The Long Road: 3.3. million in the US, 5 million worldwide
All The Right Reasons: 6.7 million in the US, 9.5 million worldwide
I mean, that's just crazy. (Also, their current wikipedia page proclaims that Silver Side Up "consisted of 12 versions of the exact same song." Good times!)

Now, while Nickelback has obviously sold more albums than FOB and JEW combined, are they in the running for Band of the Decade? I would say no, simply due to the fact that, other than album sales, they have had no noticeable cultural or musical impact. Chad Kroeger isn't sparking new fashions or being paid any attention to (other than when he gets a DUI, of course); and Nickelback isn't causing a legion of imitators to rise up, at least not any more so than any standard rock band. And this is the real reason why Nickelback could never be the BotD: they aren't creating a space for themselves and altering the musical landscape; they are merely filling the ever-present need for a standard rock band that plays catchy tunes but is ultimately harmless and dangerless. (Speaking of harm and danger, Nickelback are on the same record label as DragonForce, Dream Theater, Killswitch Engage, and Megadeth.)

So while Nickelback is a worldwide top-selling band, few could dispute the cultural impact FOB has had in this decade (especially the last 5 years). Taking emo/pop/rock to new heights, creating fashion trends that bands and kids copy relentlessly, collaborating with artists of all types (Babyface and Elvis Costello?), and maintaining a significant amount even buzz even 5 years into their popularity. Trust me, in 20-30 years when people are telling their kids about music in the new millenium, Fall Out Boy will routinely be the first band to come to mind. I'm not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing, it's just the way it is (and a much better option than Nickelback, you must admit).

Discuss and disagree below.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bitch Slap

It's been a week or so since first hearing the albums in their entirety, and I've come to the conclusion that I have been not only let down, but nearly despised. Few of the songs actually end; most just seem to taper off like a drunk who forgot he was speaking. There is no love or passion on these albums, merely a fascination with doing everything the exact opposite of the way they would imagine anyone would appreciate. There are plenty of parts sprinkled throughout that I genuinely love, but not a single song that I can play and not feel frustrated about at some point. Richard Edwards & Co. do not have a bone in their bodies that cares about anyone who listens to their songs. How else can you explain actions like their approach to "Broadripple is Burning": their fans fell in love with it when it first started popping up in setlists, but Margot's reaction was to take it, fuck around with it for a while, publicly express their dislike for it, and finally release - on the label's insistence, no less - the least-inspired version possible. Wait, I take that back: second-least inspired. First place would have to go their live performance of the song. You figured if a band hated a song, they just wouldn't play it (see Radiohead, "Creep"). But Margot goes one step further and plays the song in a pathetic, reluctant way - at most shows, as far as I know. Their indifference bordering on animosity seems to extend to the inner workings of the band as well. Seeing them play on the day their albums released, half of the band wore animal masks, I imagine to tie in to the imagery. The other half didn't have masks, or carried them in their hands. Of the ones that arrived with masks, half (including Edwards) removed them before even playing the first song, while the drummer alone kept his on for the first part of the set. It was confusing, but it also wasn't intentional as far as I could tell - they really just couldn't care less.

Margot has always excelled at evoking moods and atmosphere better than anything else (including songwriting), but their new albums seem to mainly evoke the attitude, "I really don't give a shit." At this point, trying to like Margot & the Nuclear So and So's is like having a crush on a lesbian. It's not that they don't like you; it's that they don't like you or anybody like you.

P.S. - Also their artwork choices are the absolute worst I have ever seen.

Monday, October 6, 2008