Sunday, October 02, 2011

Loutallica: Worthy Experiment, Bad Result



I dedicate this article to my cousin, Evan Appleton.

I want to begin by giving credit to Metallica and Lou Reed for experimenting on an album together instead of playing it safe. I would rather see musicians take risks than to put out albums that sound too much like their previous work. But when an experiment turns out to be bad, in this case really bad, it should have been placed on the shelf.

For some reason, people like to see different musical artists perform together. Recently I downloaded from the Sopranos soundtrack a track that mixes Every Breath You Take with the theme from Peter Gunn. I can easily hear both tracks separately, but hearing them together gives me a new experience. This is referred to as a mashup. I view mashups as the “Reese’ Peanut Butter Cups” of music. Sure people love peanut butter and they love chocolate, but together they taste great. Sometimes two songs mashed up together can be better than the previous songs were separately. This is all a matter of opinion. Sometimes mashups are great and sometimes they are bad.

A few years ago, Linkin Park made an album with Jay-Z and the result was excellent. I am more of a fan of rock music than I am a fan of rap, but I understand how rappers can use rock music in the background successfully. When Aerosmith worked with Run DMC for the song “Walk This Way”, the music and singing of Aerosmith fit with the rapping of Run DMC. When Linkin Park worked with Jay-Z, they made sure that the tempo of the music fit the lyrics correctly. Great lyrics will not make a song successful if the lyrics do not fit well with the original song that was chosen to be in the background. MC Hammer could have used the same rap lyrics from “U Can’t Touch This” and added them to the music of a different song instead of “Super Freak” by Rick James, but the result may have not been as successful.

Jay-Z has a lot of experience taking the music of other artists and makes sure that it fits well in the background. As a rapper, he can tell if the music fits with his lyrics.

Metallica and Lou Reed have decided to make an album together called Lulu. They released a song called “The View.” To compare this to Jay-Z and Linkin Park, the talking is done by Lou Reed and the music and is performed by Metallica.

Here is the link to hear it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LWtb621DRg

The result is absolutely horrible…..

But the reason why this song is bad is very simple. Lou Reed is talking with very little emotion with a very fast musical background. James Hetfield has some lines in the song and he is singing (not talking) with the same aggressive style that fits most Metallica songs. Hearing Lou Reed use such a lack of emotion is like hearing an old man talking on stage while a heavy metal band is playing fast and aggressive music. The singing, talking, or rapping has to fit the music that is being played. Jay-Z understands this. Lou Reed does not.

In my opinion, “The View” is the worst song that Metallica has ever released. When the full album is released on November 1st, I may possibly have a lower opinion of the other songs on the album, but I will not even consider purchasing the album at this time.

I really do love the music of Metallica. I am a big fan of them. I respect their decision work with Lou Reed on an album. But at some point, I really do wish they said to themselves, “This album is bad. We’re going to have to tell Lou that we can’t release it.” How do you tell someone who is considered a legendary artist that you can’t release the work that you have done with him because it’s not good? Would it be like insulting yourself, insulting the other artist, or both?

I expect Lulu to be considered the worst album that Metallica has ever released and ranked below St. Anger. Artists decide not to release songs all of the time. I’m sure that Metallica has written many songs that they did not put on their albums and would only choose the songs that they felt were the best. When a group writes many songs and can only put a few on an album, they have to be their own worst critic and decide which songs are unworthy of the album. But it’s harder to decide that a body of work overall needs to be shelved. It is hard to be that hard on yourself to shelf an entire project. In this case, they would not have had to just be their own worst critic, but a critic of Lou Reed.

By deciding to release the worst song of their career (The View), and possibly their worst album (which I cannot judge it until I hear it), Metallica may have opened up Lou Reed and themselves to their true worst critics… the audience.
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