The 20 Worst Albums of 2012 #4-1: Maroon 5, Killers, Mumford & Sons, Pitbull
Published on December 31st, 2012 | Jonny Abrams, Julia Kurokawa and Natalie Blackburn
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)…
4. The Killers – Battle Born
Though The Killers’ latest could quite easily be reviewed in four words and one punctuation mark – “overblown, but not gloriously”, since you ask – Rocksucker really is going to have to take it to task in more detail for having the temerity to commit such heinous crimes in music’s good and noble name.
(Think of us as a music fan striking back against someone who’d just criticised music on Twitter.)
Opener “Flesh and Bone” sets the tone perfectly by aspiring for Queen yet landing much closer to recent-vintage Kings of Leon, albeit insipidly campy where Kings of Leon have been insipidly grunty and sweaty. There are some nice string plinks, and a decent idea in the form of overlapping vocals, but the big, chanty ’80s synth-pop schtick is almost as grating as Brandon Flowers’s voice itself.
Single “Runaways” is like The Darkness but without the self-awareness to even remotely redeem it, “The Way It Was” a perfect encapsulation of the tiresome, relentless tonality which Battle Born refuses to take anywhere that might threaten to be interesting, while…actually, nearly every damn song here is the same.
To be fair, there are noteworthy moments amidst the mundanity – for example, the high likelihood of the LeAnn-Rhimes-meets-latter-day-Aerosmith-esque “Here With Me” soundtracking a million and one irksome love scenes on Hollyoaks and the like, the inevitable “Be My Baby” beat somewhere in “A Matter of Time”, and the mercy shown by “From Here On Out” in being the only track to clock in at under 3 minutes 50 (a commendable 2:27, in fact) – but these are just flies surrounding the monumental turd that is the cold, bloated, widescreen schmaltz of “Be Still”, which manages to offend still further by dint of sharing a title with such a warm, tender (and CONCISE) Beach Boys song.
Okay, seriously now, here is a list of good things about Battle Born:
* The drumming
* The rare moment of understatedness/humility that is the otherwise uneventful “Heart of a Girl”
* The rare moment of anything even approaching invention and nous that is “The Rising Tide”, albeit it is the second track to mention “neon light”
* The poor man’s ELO of the closing title track, albeit this commendation must be considered with a heavy dose of relativity
There you go, start with the band and end with the good. We’re “flipping” it, see.
3. Pitbull – Global Warming
The first few tracks alone consist basically of this utter chump spouting total gibberish over “Macarena”, “Take Me Out” by A-Ha and “Love is Strange” from Dirty Dancing. Pitbull is perhaps popular music’s lowest low to date and that he’s not at number 1 in our list owes itself solely to our mild suspicion that he is in fact just one big wind-up.
“To understand the future, we have to go back in time” could be Pitbull’s twisted lyrical justification for just taking old songs and laying incoherent sex-pest drivel over the top of them. If you’d like any more of our barbed commentary on Pitbull lyrics, simply google any track he opens his stupid mouth on and link us to a set of words, preferably transcribed in pidgen English by some 12-year-old fan in Korea.
Ah, come, sing along if you know ’em!
“One day when the light is glowing
I’ll be in my castle golden
But until the gates are open
I just wanna feel this moment (ohhh)”
Oye mamita, come on, dale, que la cosa esta rica”
“Reporting live, from the tallest building in Tokyo
Long ways from the hard ways
Bill sos, and oh yeas
They count it always, 305 all day
Now baby we can party, oh baby we can party
She read books, especially about red rooms and tight ups
I got it hooked, cause she seen me in a suit with the red ta-ta up
Meet and greet, nice to meet ya, but time is money
Only difference is I own it, now let’s stop time and enjoy this moment”
Pitbull is from Miami. Miami what have you done? What monster have you unleashed on us?
This is war, Miami. WAR.
2. Mumford & Sons – Babel
We told you this was war.
If Babel had anything to do with former Liverpool forward Ryan then Rocksucker might have been prepared to cut it some novelty-based slack. As it is, Mumford & Sons sound on this sophomore effort every bit as irritatingly flimsy as they did the first time round. We’re not ashamed to admit that we judged the book by its cover as soon as we saw their tweed outfits and pencil moustaches, but then we heard that ubiquitous single – you know, the one that managed to shoehorn a bad swear into its chorus and still sound as wet as an otter’s pocket – and realised that it was a pretty lousy book too.
Here at Rocksucker we like to challenge our preconceptions, we really do, but the only good thing we could find to say about Babel is that it’s competently pieced together. What a facade, though; I mean, they might be a mildly diverting proposition at some hipster warehouse party, but how in the name of Holy Mother Music has this soppy, repetitive drivel gone stratospheric?
Here’s the formula for every damn song on Babel: steady, up-tempo pulse + fast-plucked banjo + relentlessly tonal folk stylings + ‘sensitive’ lyrics, lightly growled = identikit displays of ‘triumphant’ emotion that are not only dull but also difficult to take at face value given the degree of artifice surrounding it all. They filled the barrel with fish on 2009 debut Sigh No More, and now they’re filling the whole damn thing with lead.
There are two exceptions to the infuriating uniformity: “Ghosts That We Knew” represents a welcome change of pace, if only for the fact that is is a change of pace, ie. slower and more considered; and “Broken Crown”, which at least casts a spot of minor-key doominess over the same old pulse and eternal banjo.
For what it’s worth, bonus track “For Those Below” is far better than anything on the album proper. Maybe these chaps do have something about them after all; but if that is the case then they presumably sought on Babel to recreate “Little Lion Man” as many times as possible, which would be downright reprehensible.
1. Maroon 5 – Overexposed
That’s a pretty apt title right there. Let’s get this straight: the rest of Overexposed could sound like sodding Pet Sounds yet still qualify for this list as long as the utterly horrid “Payphone” was still included. It could drag anything down to its own hellish level: if you heard “Payphone” while you were in the Sistine Chapel, you’d swear blind you were in Guatanamo Bay watching your cellmate crapping into a bucket. If it soundtracked the Mona Lisa, her eyes would cease to follow you around the room, settling instead in a fixed ‘rolled’ position, then screwed shut from grimacing when Adam ‘Nasal Dipstick’ Leveine starts swearing as if desperately trying to convince himself that this claptrap is fit for consumption by anyone over the age of 12.
“All those fairytales are full of shit / One more stupid love song I’ll be sick”: how’s that for lack of self-awareness? That’s like Tony Blair penning an anti-war protest song, or Luis Suarez fronting the Kick It Out campaign. It’s brazen hypocrisy delivered in the most jarringly whiny voice that Satan could possibly muster. In fact, he probably assembled a team of evil scientists and spent months working round the clock in Hell’s Own Laboratory to even so much as formulate the blueprint for these utter tosspots.
As for the rest of the album…well, Pet Sounds it ain’t. “She’s got tickets to her own show / But nobody wants to go” sings Leveine on “Tickets”, unwittingly drawing parallels with his own rampant delusion of adequacy, while “Heeey you / Come over and let me raaace you” sounds like it’s about to go somewhere else until you realise that he merely wishes to engage her in sporting competition. We’ll drop you this hint: how do your ears feel after listening to Maroon 5? Bingo.
That last line is from “Wipe Your Eyes”, by the way, which earns a slight reprieve for acknowledging “I know that I’m causing you pain”, but is nevertheless so aesthetically disgusting that a more appropriate title might be “Wipe Your Cock on the Curtains”.
“I’m afraid that I gotta do what I gotta do / But if I let you go, where you gonna go? / We gotta make a change, time to turn the page / Something isn’t right, I don’t wanna fight you” – an adult wrote these lyrics. AN ADULT.
To be fair, though, once you strip away the awful lyrics, the vomitous ‘production team’ sheen, the unbearable vocals and the love affair with clichés, the actual songs themselves are also horrendous. Unless of course you still haven’t had enough of the same wishy-washy chord sequence that surely constitutes some kind of ‘default’ setting on Satan’s Own Casio Keyboard, in which case this is the album for you.
“I don’t wanna fight you” he may whine, but Rocksucker would like to fight Maroon 5. We’re talking a whole awareness campaign here: posters, infomercials, sponsored runs, the works. Help us fight Maroon 5, before it’s too late.
Remember, folks: there are only four horsemen of the apocalypse. There are 5 of Maroon.
Congratulations to Maroon 5, the worst of a spectacularly bad bunch!