Choose Your Destiny: Hard Rock’s Deepest Steps Backwards
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on September 25, 2008
Singin’ “Nothin’ But a Good Time” all summer long…
I feel for hard rock, I really do. What was the last even slightly exciting or interesting band to break into the Mainstream Rock charts? Do you have to go back to the days of System of a Down and Incubus? I mean sure, every now and then MTV2 will flirt with a Mastodon or Lamb of God video in semi-heavy rotation, but basically, the genre is subsiding on a steady diet of Disturbed, Papa Roach, Seether and Shinedown–bands that were certainly never much greater than mediocre, and certainly have since dropped well below the Mendoza Line. It’s a sad state of affairs, diminished only by the fact that the alternative rock charts aren’t exactly a hot bed of burgeoning creativity either (#1 this week: The Offspring’s “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid”).
So what do you do when no one wants to move forwards? Why, move all the way backwards, of course! Even if you discount AC/DC’s presence with new song “Rock N Roll Train” (which, unsurprisingly, sounds exactly like an AC/DC song), the Mainstream Rock top 10 this week is full with three especially egregious cases of Rearview Mirror Rock–songs which make you wonder why rock music even bothered existing after the Bulletboys broke up. Decide for yourself which is the deepest step backwards:
Hinder – “Use Me”
Whither Bill Withers? We all no doubt remember Hinder from their much-beloved 2006 crossover smash “Lips of an Angel,” a #3 hit that was positively unavoidable for nearly half a year. We figured Hinder would do us the honor of disappearing shortly thereafter, and minus some minor reverberations from follow-up “Better Than Me,” they pretty much did. If you believed the video for “Use Me,” though, you’d think the boys were Motley Crue circa “Girls, Girls, Girls,” still so on top of the world that dozens of supermodel-level metal hotties are on call to show up at their mansion at any hour of the night, should a legendary party spontaneously break out. Plus, they get no less than Andrew Dice Clay to play the party’s bouncer, and clearly not just any Johnny Come Latelies are gonna be able to land a cameo from the Diceman.
The song itself I actually find somewhat amusing, and in not quite as much of a smug, patronizing way than you’d think. From the title, their previous hits, and the Withers connection, you might assume it’s a self-pitying ballad of an uneven romance, but rather than let all those boring emotions get in the way, Hinder make the song into a rip-roaring celebration of emotionless, expectationless screwing. It’s an appropriately guilt and thought-free sentiment from a band that really would be best served not letting their feelings get the best of them. Plus, “She’s kind of cold / But yet she’s hot on the outside” has gotta be one of the lyrics of the year.
Theory of a Deadman – “Bad Girlfriend”
When I first heard this song unleash its killer opening guitar riff, I just prayed that the lyrics weren’t going to be so soul-piercing that I could manage to pretend the song was some lost “She Sells Sanctuary”-era Cult classic. From the first line, though–“My girlfriend’s a dick magnet”–it was pretty clear that this was still a little too much to ask for. Lead Theorizer Tyler Connelly spends the song casting aspersions on the title character, alternately in frustration and awe, mostly about how she likes to get drunk and fuck anything that moves. As with the Hinder song, Connelly seems willing to accept the trade-off of having such a Bad Girlfriend, because “she’s coming back to [his] place tonight,” and on the Sunset Strip, that’s all that matters, right?
Well, maybe. In the song’s mush-mouthed denouement (definitely needed some help from Google on this one), Connelly decries BG as a gold digger who has spent all his money, and now refers to her as “the future ex-Miss Connelly.” Especially considering the fact that the song was inspired by Connelly’s own wife, this is a very confusing turn of events. But then again, this is a song where the main point of the chorus is “She’s a bad, bad, bad girlfriend!” and is nonetheless arguably meant as a compliment. I guess no one really faulted “Pour Some Sugar On Me” for having an inconsistent narrative, either.
Buckcherry – “Too Drunk…”
Ah, Buckcherry. You know, one more comeback, and we might actually have to consider you guys as having had a career. “Lit Up” sounded novel enough back in the late 90s, but “Crazy Bitch” and “Sorry” were far less welcome, and now here we are with “Too Drunk [To Fuck],” the band’s latest slice of decadence-fried L.A. sleaze-rock. It’s a song which asks the obvious question–in the hierarchy of Rock and Roll, which is more important, getting drunk or getting laid? Buckcherry casts their vote for the former, in joyous celebration of a lifestyle that apparently considers staying sober enough to avoid whiskeydick as being something too close to a job (“only gets in the way”) to be considered as an option. They even create a video to prove it, in which a fat dude loses the attention of the hot chick following him throughout the party because he gets drunk, throws up and passes out (and possibly dies, though I might be reading too much into that). It’s an interesting re-shuffling of hard rock priorities, if not a particularly interesting song.
So which song is making you the gladdest that you missed FUSE’s Mainstream Rock Video countdown this week?