Quick Note: This is on the older side (okay, it’s from early 2009), but it still holds a special place in my heart because it is reasonably well written and has a strong argument formed on the basis of “go have listen if you don’t believe”. It was recently updated and underwent some dramatic changes since the original version was penned to rid it of potentially offensive material and reorganize the flow of the prose.
I’ve since softened my militant approach to music, but for the sake of what it was, I kept the original message.
The Ugliest Thorn of 2008
The year 2008 was, all told, a very good year for music. Metallica managed to claw their way out of prostitute alley with the release of Death Magnetic, AC/DC gave rock fans a reason to stop sulking with Black Ice and Trivium gave metal it’s most innovative album in recent memory with Shogun. But for every good album released there are several terrible ones as well, and 2008 saw many horrors spawned with the emergence of several awful albums and several artists unlikely to gain fans amongst those of us blessed with a sense of hearing. Kings of Leon, Little Wayne, Lady Gaga, and Hollywood Undead: and these are only the tip of the iceberg. There was one album, however, so horrid that it made me curse the heavens for giving me ears: Want by 3oh3. With no palpable signs of creative talent, a serious singing deficiency and the worst lyrics I’ve ever heard, this bastard-child of hip-hop and electronica has left me questioning the future of music.
If I’m to be completely honest, I have little love to lose when it comes to the modern rap and hip-hop scene. Modern artists have largely forsaken the fun, upbeat styles seen in the 80s and the thoughtful rhythms that revealed the darker nature of hip-hops origins in the early 90s. With the exception of a few, modern rap and hip-hop artists have turned to blatant sexism and narcissism clustered with cheesy electronic effects for an overall unpleasant experience, targeted at the mindless consumer. I genuinely believe that modern rap is something to be avoided, but to think that a pair of scrawny, greasy twits would be capable of writing an album so horrid that it makes electronically charged nipple-clamps seem pleasant is a bit of stretch. Unfortunately, that is exactly what 3oh3 duo Sean Foreman and Nathan Motte accomplished with their repulsive album.
One of the album’s glaring problems is that it shamelessly continues the modern trend of treating a PC and synthesizer like an instrument. In fact, when you use realize that nearly the entirety of a given song is plagued by synthesizers generating all sounds including bass, drums and guitar, and put 20 seconds of said effects on loop for the entirety of the song, it becomes evident how little effort (if you’d even call it that) has been put into this album. Much to the despair of even a neophyte audiophile, it’s evident that Foreman and Motte couldn’t even be bothered to make it sound half-decent; rather, it all winds up sounding like canned garbage that an 11 year old made on an outdated version of Garage Band.
The audio abuse doesn’t end with instrumental effects, unfortunately. Due to the incompetent duo’s lack of vocal ability they turn to auto-tune; a tool used to entirely mask a voice with computer effects. This was common practice during Disco’s reign, and still is to a lesser degree, yet typically it is not done to a point where the voice sounds like it’s coming from a Mac running its speaking program over a poem written by a drunken pubescent boy trying to impress girls by being a jerk. 3oh3, however, seemed pleased to alter their voices to a point where the clicks and random dips in pitch go beyond the realm of annoying, making their songs sound like a production of Alvin and the Chipmunks being run through Steven Hawkins’ communicator.
The auto-tune and lack of musical elements alone are enough to make me want to burn anything the album touches, but the lyrics—easily the worst aspect of the album—surely have their own little place in the foulest depths of Hell. Their songs cover a variety of vulgar subjects ranging from misogynistic and sexist banter to tough guy posturing. In their song “Don’t Trust Me” they make it sound like they’re referring to Helen Keller like her name was a dance move, but anyone who can grasp even basic lyrical concepts can easily tell that they’re telling women to be like Helen Keller: blind, deaf and dumb. This basically translates as women should shut up and do as men tell them. Naturally, this carries a sexual charge that pushes female submission. The second chorus of the song revolves around the thought of women being helpless in the face of the duo’s self-proclaimed attractiveness, and how no woman should trust them because they will only cast them aside. Admittedly, it is so difficult to understand the majority of what is being said that I needed to pull out the lyric-book. All the same, the cacophony produced by the song left me wanting to pound my head into a wall until I fell unconscious, just to I could escape the noise.
An equally revolting song was given the pretentious title “Starstruk”, in which the pre-chorus is marked by phrases that objectify women with catcall whistles (synthesized, of course) in place of vulgar words. The entire premise of the song fantasizes about a woman with a nice set of legs and short pants and the thought of being able to have a romp with her with no strings attached. Once again sexism dominates their train of thought, making one wonder if Foreman and Motte aren’t actually a pair of thawed out Neanderthals. The mumbling that comes paired with the lyrics is notably tragic too, so bad at times that not even Sylvester Stallone with his pummeled mug at the end of Rocky can hold a candle to it.
Foreman and Motte make clumsy attempts in other songs throughout the album to cover up the one-track mind seen in the album, especially in the song “Colorado Sunrise,” where they feign sensitivity and artistic expression by writing a dull and vague love song about a subject that became cliché after John Denver wrote his twentieth song about the exact same thing (to be fair, Mr. Denver did so with far more graceful and intelligent language). This pathetic stab at artistic creativity is nowhere near enough to save them from the revolting words in songs like “Punk Bitch.” Admittedly, the title had me assuming that Foreman and Motte had written the song about themselves, but instead they brag about getting laid by whores, heavy drinking and picking a fight with girls’ boyfriends as though it were something to be proud of, which only makes their feigned sensitivity in “Colorado Sunrise” all the more fragile a façade. The juxtaposition of the songs is very nearly reminiscent of seeing a dull middle school bully pulling down someone’s pants and then trying to make up for it by telling his victim to stop being a loser.
Somehow this album has managed to hang out in the butt-crack of the charts for some time now, but I would be willing to bet my last nickel that it is doing so because Foreman and Motte are using the money from their record deal to purchase their own albums and raise their status as musicians—likely in the hopes of getting sex. Want epitomizes low-brow culture with its ballads of sexism and references to their “high caliber” masculinity, and it manages to deliver it all in a package that makes me find the concept of razor-wire wrapped vibrators in my ears seem desirable.
For the life of me, I cannot find a single redeeming quality in Want, not even as a drink coaster, and so I give this album a well deserved 0.0 out of 10