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Things to Never Do: Worst Album Titles

9 Mar

Album titles are tricky. Rarely are musicians able to both create landmark music and exceptional album titles. There are not many examples. Dark Side of the Moon is both a remarkable display of music and a tremendous album title.

So, what makes Dark Side of the Moon a good album title? Better yet, what makes album titles terrible?

Dark Side of the Moon holds a special quality in that it is referenced in the music itself, impeccably (may I add). But, taking only the album title into account, let’s analyze why it works. First, it is short and to the point. Often album titles drag on, but, in order to be effective, titles need to be catchy. Catchy generally means short and easy to remember. Why do you think the best rhythms are always the most simple?

Album titles cannot be overly pretentious either. For example, any album title that makes substantial claims like “this music is awesome” tells the listener that the music is going to be arrogant and condescending. It also will probably suck. And, on the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t be an idiot and misspell words. Seriously, do not!

Also, don’t you just hate album covers that are extremely nebulous and confusing? Seriously, who wants to be confused by the album title. It doesn’t make me want to buy an album. Think of some other great album titles. The White Album, Nevermind, American Beauty. Simple and straight forward. I like that. But, also, album titles that are just dumbed down like Madonna’s Music are terrible. Seriously, we know it’s music because it’s a freaking album.

Here are five album titles I dislike strongly.

1.) When the pawn hits the conflicts he thinks like a king
What he knows throws the blows when he goes to the fight
And he’ll win the whole thing ‘fore he enters the ring
There’s no body to batter when your mind is your might
So when you go solo, you hold your own hand
And remember that depth is the greatest of heights
And if you know where you stand, then you know where to land
And if you fall it won’t matter, cause you’ll know that you’re right
By, Fiona Apple

Yeah, I’m serious. This is the full album title. It is one of the longest album titles of all time. Chumbawamba has an 865-character album. Here is my issue with long album titles. I do not want to disparage Apple’s poetry, but it does not belong as the album’s title. Stick it in the liner notes as an addition. This is the opposite of a short, catchy album title. I wonder if anyone has memorized the full album title. Do those people refer to the album in full (as opposed to simply When The Pawn, the fragmented used title). Oh, did you hear the new Fiona Apple album. When the pawn hits the conflicts he thinks like a king… The abridged version is like Pi. Easier just to cut it to 3.14.

2.) The Ego Has Landed by, Robbie Williams

Robbie didn’t listen to me. This is beyond pretentious. He just flat out says that his ego has landed. Really?

3.) Julie’s Sixteenth Birthday by, John Bult

This takes the cake for two categories (like the b-day reference). The album cover is just weird, pedophilia-esque. This must have been a really bad birthday, like criminally bad. The album title is also terrible. Julie’s Sixteenth Birthday. How can that translate into good music? We are put in a place where we do not want to be, Julie’s horrible birthday party.

4.) The M-Pire Shrikez Back by Originoo Gunn Clappaz

Well, the band name is spelled wrong, so I guess a misspelled title was sort of inevitable. But, really? I am not too worried with the M-Pire part. Hell, that is some creative input. But, shrikez. That’s not English, it’s gibberish. I don’t mind one misspelling, but a terrible one that makes no sense is inexcusable.

5.) Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water by Limp Bizkit

This album sold 1.05 million copies in its first week. Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. This has to be the worst album title ever. It does everything wrong. It is not catchy, it’s stupid and it completely turns you off to everything. It is just gross. Why are we talking about hot dog flavored water. We should never talk about that. And look at the little people on the album cover. They are bathing in hot dogs. Why? This is the quintessential example of the confusing album title. What the hell does this mean? Not much, obviously. I mean it is Limp Bizkit

Things to Never Do: Terrible Album Covers

20 Oct

What goes into an iconic album cover? In order to understand horrendous and hilarious album covers, it is necessary to create a point of comparison. Let’s take a look at the winner of the Best Album Cover poll that the Music Court ran back in May.

The unforgettable Nevermind album cover (created by Robert Fisher) is considered one of the greatest album covers of all time. What is great about it? It is naturally symbolic and expressive without being forced. It is both simple and complex and actually works as a parallel to the music on the album which also is simple Grunge with complex lyrical and emotional elements. It works exceptionally well and has staying power. The staying power comes from the album cover being a memorable image, similar to Dark Side of the Moon and Abbey Road. It will stick in the minds of listeners and viewers for that matter.

So…what makes a terrible album cover. I would define a bad album cover as one that does not have staying power. The image may be good for a cheap laugh or a long “what the hell is this,” but after the initial glimpse the cover is out of memory. Let’s go through a few sure things to keep in mind if you want to avoid an album cover from hell.

– The cover cannot be over-the-top

– The cover cannot be overly weird

– The cover cannot include members of the band posed for a picture. It’s just bad. Stop doing it

– The cover should also not have members of the band looking away from the camera purposely. Seriously, the Beatles did it well. Everything else is cliche

Those are just a few bad moves. Like every good class though we need some examples. Right? So, here we go. The seven worst album covers ever.

1.) Bad Reputation by The Ritchie Family

What’s wrong with this besides the implied inter-racial motorcycle orgy? Exactly. How could this pass? Seriously, this album cover is scary. This cover is over-the-top and just odd. And, if your eyes can somehow go back onto this photo…look at the dog. Why is their a dog on the cover? Like there wasn’t enough bestiality represented already. Next.

2.) Jesus Use Me by The Faith Tones

I almost feel bad for the three ladies on the cover. I am sure back when this album came out “Jesus Use Me” implied something remarkably different than what it means now. But, wow, this is still god awful. Everything from the hair to the matching collared whatever the heck those are. I wont comment on the name of the album anymore because that is a completely different joke for a different post. But, the corniness of their pose is alarming. And, I have a serious fear that the hair on Faith Tone one may eat her face if it gets hungry.

3.) Lovehunter by WhitesnakeAm I allowed to post this on my blog or will I be shut down for posting pornographic images. Look, Whitesnake, I understand that you are sexually frustrated. But, if you want to put libidinous material on an album cover it may be a good idea to keep it less obvious. I don’t think anyone is looking at this album and not thinking of disgusting snake rape. Also, if anyone is still with me over here (the post is down here fans of snake rape) look at how big that snake is. Also, what is on her arm? Whitesnake, this is over-the-top of over-the-top. Seriously, gross.

4.) By Request Only by Ken

Yes. This has got to be it. The best of the worst. Ken, you just made my night. You see this just can’t be serious. We got this photo in the back of Ken (I suppose) sitting and smiling. That is bad. Not terrible, just bad. It violates the policy of not taking a staged photograph of yourself and putting it on the album cover. But, it becomes terrible and frightening when we get the superimposed close up of Ken, up close and personal, looking into our souls. This is legitimately scary. Ken, the classic man of the 70s and possessor of potentially the greatest bad album of all time. But, we still have more.

5.) Back to the Sh*t by Millie Jackson

Alright, so let me set the scene. Millie Jackson just got back from a long night of partying and buying a completely random flower vase with flowers for the floor of her dappled bathroom. She forgot to use the bathroom before she left and is craving the toilet. So, off one shoe goes and we get a snapshot of her taking a dump. Alright, I am glad we have that clear. I am going to go throw up. I have nothing against pooping, but, why the heck would this be your album cover? Why would you name your album Back to the Sh*t. Ken told you to do it right?

6.) Just read the album cover.

We are going foreign for this one and I believe I only have one thing to say. Kraghe has taken over the world of terrible photo manipulation. Imagine being on a boat and seeing him rise from the sea, smiling, in disco attire. Do the hustle and scream in terror.

7.) The Many Facets of Roger by Roger?

What a great way to end? Roger. Is that you Roger? Oh, hey Roger smiling. Roger knows best. Roger thinking. Roger’s sexy face. Is there anything to the fact that many of these terrible album covers come from the disco era? Well, thank goodness disco is dead.

Well, there you have it. Album covers that explore a deep level of horrid. So, what do you think is the worst? Roger!?! Oh, thank god, he is right there. I thought I lost him for a second.

Things to never do #4: Bank on your reputation to give a performance for you.

8 Feb

So I am sitting–bored out of my mind– in my Animal Physiology class right now. However, my mind was wandering, and I began to think back to last night’s superbowl. Unfortunately, I also thought back to last night’s halftime performance by The Who. How disappointing.

The vocals were shaky, the music was shaky, and so became my respect for this group. The performance was lackluster, clearly banking on the reputation that the band had developed over the years. The medley they played most definitely covered some of their great songs, but the delivery fell unfortunately short. The songs were played and sung with the vigor of a stale waffle.

So, please make sure you give it your all when you perform. Don’t lose the musicality because of past success. Everyone has room to improve…

except Eric Clapton, of course.

Things to never do #3: Disrespect your guitar

13 Jan

Hello everyone,

Once again, I just found myself skimming through some videos, and I witnessed something else that, for lack of better words, struck a chord with me.

Guitars are expensive nowadays. So, one should therefore never disrespect his or her guitar. A guitarist, as talented as he may be, cannot hope to make music without his partner. So as entertaining as it may be to watch, Things to Never Do #3 will henceforth state that thou shall not disrespect your guitar, no matter how much fun it may be. Check out some of these vids.

This guy is just a dumba$$.

But this guy: is awesome.

Stay tuned for a countdown of the top 25 guitarists of all time!

Things to Never Do #2: Play the Guitar really fast and think that makes you a good player/musician

8 Jan

This just turns me off even more

Once again, I was bored and searching through videos. This time, however, I have come up with an item that does not amuse me, but rather disheartens my hope for young musicians. It seems that a growing trend is developing that has young musicians equating guitar playing speed with skill and good playing. The sad thing is: there are so many people who can do that. With a lot of time on your hands and a basic knowledge of the pentatonic scales, you can most definitely teach yourself how to play with great speed on the guitar.

I am a guitar player myself and was shocked as I was offered a job teaching guitar to a young kid after he and his mother were listening to me. I was doing nothing impressive. I was testing out the action of the fretboard, just playing some of the aforementioned pentatonic scales. I also played the very beginning to classical gas. However, these people paid no heed to the older gentleman near me, who was playing beautiful blues on a guitar that he also could not afford. The trend leaves young musicians disregarding musicality and feeling, hoping to learn quick, easy ways to seem impressive to their friends or nearby girls. By the way, I am not insinuating that I am a great guitar player by any means. Check this video out:

Why this kid thinks he’s awesome is beyond me.

As far as this guy is concerned, I am left speechless. It is true that he can play extremely fast. So what? Can you listen to that for more than 5 seconds without

begging your fingers to type another URL into your browser? I didn’t last that 5 seconds.

So please, to all the young musicians out there: Please learn from the greats who have put all their emotion into their music. I am not saying that speed and technical proficiency don’t have their place, for they most certainly do. But please learn balance and where the line is that divides tasteful speed with showing off. Please Check out the following video of Joe Bonamassa. He employs exactly what I am talking about: a balance between speed and feeling, and utilizing speed in a way to express an idea. I wish you all good playing and a good 2010.

And with that, good luck on Saturday Jets.

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