The 20 Worst Albums of 2012 #16-13: Iggy Pop, Keane, Ronan Keating, fun.
Published on December 27th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
There have been some great albums this year – why, check out our Top 100 of 2012 list – but of course there have also been some sodding awful ones. Here are the twenty worst of ’em (not including those to have wafted from S***n C***ll’s arsehole, because frankly that doesn’t even constitute music)…
16. Iggy Pop – Après
Yer man of Swiftcover advertising fame had to release this covers collection himself after Virgin EMI said “non merci” and ce n’est pas difficile to see why. At first his grizzled Gallic crooning is endearing, in a festive and avuncular sort of way, but après quatre ou cinq chansons du même type it starts to sound like a bit of a joke.
Mr Pop’s exaggerated vibrato at every single opportunity exudes light-heartedness in a way that registers at first as a harmlessly fond tribute, and that would be ideally suited for one-maybe-two songs on an LP. When, however, this constitutes the whole record…well, mais non, mais non, mais non. Et les covers of “Everybody’s Talkin'” et “Michelle”? Ce n’est pas nécessaire whatsoever.
Rocksucker pense qu’Iggy’s next project should be an album of duets with that dangerously unstable puppet version of him from the car insurance adverts; they could even sit on a couch with him and snigger Beavis and Butt-head style at self-indulgently cobbled-together music videos for each of the songs on Après.
15. fun. – Some Nights
Begins promisingly enough with an odd little dittie titled “Some Nights (Intro)” before descending further and further into the bowels of hell with each passing atrocity. Described on Wikipedia as an “indie rock band”, Rocksucker begs to differ: dig those whiny, nasal vocals, identikit chord progressions, brain-achingly stupid lyrics, genuinely painful use of autotune and warbling, all elements which combined serve to raise some sort of diabolical presence, a bizarro Captain Planet if you will. And we’ve not even got to the sheer horror of the American Civil War-themed video for “Some Nights”, not to be confused with “Some Nights (Intro)”, of course…
Yikes. The depth of inspiration at play on this LP is particularly well evidenced by the presence on it of consecutive tracks called “All Alone” and “All Alright”, while “It Gets Better” is sufficiently early in the running order to stake a bold claim for Ironic Song Title of the Year. All in all, fun. are a slightly less horrifying Maroon 5; at least there’s some ambition to their awfulness, some elements which could conceivably be mistaken for being clever or…*gulp*…quirky. Strip it down to the nuts and bolts of the songwriting, though, and it gets pretty ugly.
14. Ronan Keating – Fires
Good Christmas present for mum? I mean, my mum has taste, but yours mightn’t. You know that impression you’ve got in your head of what Fires sounds like, despite not having heard it yet? Bingo.
Here’s a list of things you could do with a physical copy of Fires by Ronan Keating rather than listen to it:
1) Smash a spider with it.
2) Play frisbee with it.
3) Rest your pint on it.
4) Spin it around on your finger until it flies off and smashes into a spider.
5) Chase someone around with it making boogieman noises.
6) Snap it in twain and slash your wrists with it.
7) Serve hors d’oeuvres on it.
8) Try eating it.
9) Force someone else to eat it.
10) Joke present for a friend.
13. Keane – Strangeland
Keane are easy to mock – they seem like nice, unremarkable guys making nice, unremarkable music – but while the levels of opprobrium they attract in some quarters are probably unjustified, there’s no escaping the fact that this is total and utter fluff fit for syncing opportunities with Hollyoaks or Scrubs.
Sometimes it pays to keep things simple, but Keane take this philosophy to frankly irritating degrees. For starters, they basically recycle the same two or three chord progressions over and over again, and they’re all so rigidly tonal, predictable and similarly rendered (yes, that shiny piano still dominates) that you wonder how they managed to write and record 16 tracks of it without the studio descending into a boredom-induced bloodbath.
It’s not all bad – “Watch How You Go” is okay, as is the verging-on-Guillemots “Penultimate”, while closer “It’s Not Sure” is perhaps the closest Keane have come to resembling The Beach Boys, which has got to be something to build on for next time.
Other tracks merely start promisingly – the rodeo-like romp of “On the Road”, the amusing toy drum machine of “Day Will Come” and the sci-fi synth of “In Your Own Time” – but to a number they all wind up as Just Another Keane Song, the latter in particular pissing away by far the album’s most interesting sound in favour of depressingly coffee-table, latter-day-U2-meets-Robbie-Williams fare. Seriously, someone should have said something.
As song titles, the back-to-back “Black Rain” and “Neon River” are so frustratingly inappropriate, suggestive as they are of darkness and introspection, but such shifts of mood are not to be expected of a band who continue to show no adventure, no artistic ambition and no sense of mischief. It’s just all so agonisingly plodding and simplistic, although it’s probably nice enough if you just relax your brain and pay next to no attention to it.
16 tracks, 16 reinventions of the wheel – overall, Strangeland is quite the misnomer.