“Your music’s bad…”
“…and you should feel bad!”
The Onion’s AV Club is a massively irritating website. The Onion, of course, is satirical, but for some reason it has this pretentious sister site which has serious reviews of music, TV and films. The music reviews are easily the worst part; they heap far too much praise on every new album. I’m sure that forty minutes of children crying would get an A Minus grade, especially if all the children involved were from Portland and wore thick-brimmed glasses. But in their rush to praise all things Hipster, they’ve accidently been providing a public service.
A while ago, The AV Club launched a new video series called “Undercover”. They invite Hipster bands into their studio, where they perform a cover of a song. The resulting videos are a three act tragedy of Awful…
Act 1 – Sponsorship The Undercover strand is sponsored by Starbucks – a Hipster favourite. So before we even get to see the performance, we’re treated to a twee advert that makes out that this massive corporation is actually a rustic, family business.
Act 2 – Opening Chat The AV Clubbers ask the band why they chose that particular song to cover. This is always a disaster, as the musicians never have anything insightful to say, and I sometimes wonder whether they can actually speak English. The “conversation” often takes place while band members awkwardly hold Starbucks cups.
Act 3 – The Performance Itself This is where the videos become a public service. It’s now that you realise that this critically acclaimed band are actually really dreadful and that you don’t need to waste your time and money on them.
For a recent Undercover session, they invited a New Jersey punk band called Titus Andronicus in, and they chose to cover They Might Be Giants’ geek rock classic, “Birdhouse in Your Soul”. Embedding doesn’t seem to work properly, but click below for the recorded evidence…
Everything that’s wrong with modern rock music can be found in that video. It’s a mixture of pretension, lack of talent, and beards. Does the singer knows even know how a microphone works? I should’ve guessed it was going to be bad, just because of the band’s name. I find that bands whose name is an allusion to literature or culture are never as clever as they think they are.
The BBC used to make audio recordings in a similar way to The AV Club all the time. Bands and artists were given only a small amount of setup time, and recorded their songs live in the studio, with no overdubs. Most famously, this was done for John Peel’s show. Many of these recordings have been released on CD, to great critical acclaim and popular success. I don’t think many rock bands these days would be able to produce something worthy of release under these strict recording conditions. Without the aid of an expensive producer or the opportunity for multiple takes, most modern rock bands would reveal themselves for what they really are: talentless.