[Ed.’s note: This is just a quickie as I prepare a more voluminous post]
It was the summer of ’14 and I was in a dark, dark place when I first posted about this. I wanted to punch the virtual blob of “public opinion,” which hadn’t had decent taste, admittedly, in decades (should I blame Madonna or Torture Porn?)… but this was a devastatingly low new low: upon what planet of tasteless, hype-governed nitwits had I been shipwrecked? All I wanted to do was go home, to the Cultural ’70s, wherewhen Experimental Lit was reviewed in the glossies and John Lennon was quizzed about his process on the Cavett show and Delia Derbyshire and Luigi Nono had record deals. Levi Stubbs, Gladys Knight and Dave Ruffin were all alive and working in the ’70s and afforded respect for each their respective consummate mastery. John Gardner’s Grendel was published in 1971, Steppenwolf (the world’s first “Jungian film”) premiered in ’74 and Fellini’s Casanova in ’76. Yes, that Proustian, Rosebudded, Krypton-like Timeplace is my homeland. Such Good Taste my temporal-nation-of-aesthetic-birth had: why did I emigrate? Or was I banished…? Banished to the catshit era-continent of post-9/11…
I watched all kinds of hideous shit inexplicably “blow up” in 2014 but nothing was more hideous than the shit sampled in the clip below. To quote one rare and sane comment, in the comment thread (one out of three hundred, roughly):
6 years ago
is this some kindve weird al bad joke ?
To quote a more detailed and geopolitically astute (rare, sane) one:
7 years ago
why are you all buying into this shit?? seriously yeah the frontman does perform but if you or I did that we’d be laughed outta the gig. Musically the main riff is almost an exact copy of the theme to trainspotting. Th rest of the band are so static its like a bunch of corpses on stage. Why is it the singer does a death metal growl yet you’d all vilify death metal as a music genre? The media says its good and you all lap it up like puppies.
To quote a terribly more typical comment:
Future Islands came to prominence in 2014 with their fourth album Singles released by 4AD. Its lead single “Seasons (Waiting on You)” was considered the best song of 2014 by Pitchfork, and NME and its performance at the Late Show with David Letterman in March 2014, became the most-viewed video on the show’s YouTube page. “Seasons (Waiting on You)” was eventually named the best song of 2014 by Pitchfork Media, the Pazz & Jop critics’ poll, and Consequence of Sound. The success of the album lead the Singles tour to extend itself until November 2015.
I mean. Come on. It’s not as though it’s Willie Nelson. I don’t like Country Music but I know Willie Nelson is good… I just don’t really care for the style. I can distinguish between a difference in personal preferences and artifacts that fail by every metric dictated by the field in which they exist. “Best Song of 2014”? That’s an awful lot of 2+2=5 to absorb in one sitting.
In retrospect, I wonder if the sudden hype of an obviously not-very-good (and not at all industry-pop) band was some sort of test of the Social Media Complex’s ability to brainwash the targeted public against its natural instincts. You know, like in the ’60 when they tested the Emergency Broadcasting System with one long, weird, high-pitched tone, in the early hours, over a test pattern, to make sure it would work during a real emergency? Or, also in the ’60s, how they tested the tornado sirens, every once in a while, in the Midwest? Maybe the sudden Bizzaro-world ubiquity of this unremarkably shitty band was a test of TFIC* Zombie Controls… ?
Before you think that query to be a little too-too, consider the Fidget Spinner, another super-hyped object with no natural selling points (certainly none as strong as the hula hoop’s or the yoyo’s) , which was eerily ubiquitous in 2017 and just as suddenly gone, which seems innocuous enough, but consider this bizarre headline from June of 2017:
Fidget spinners were invented to bring peace to Middle East but haven’t made their creator a penny
Creator of popular playground toy Catherine Hettinger first came up with concept as a way to stop Palestinian kids throwing rocks at police – but her patent expired in 2005
Uh… you know what I mean? HUH? That’s almost as weird as IMF-stooge Bono saying this, to Rolling Stone, about this shitty wee band and song:
“Have you seen them? That song, ‘Seasons’? A miracle, that is.”
Watch the video clip below and make up your mind as to the level of “miracle” on view.
Maybe many people were merely lacking all taste, in 2014, or some spooky brainwash-methodology-testing protocol really was at work, with all these weird Fads, before or since, but, at the time, watching this goofy performance (with bad vox, silly-bad dancing, nondescript song and mediocre backing band) filled my incredulous eyeballs with dragon-gall. I posted:
“Oh My White Friends: I Am So Done with Your Fucked Up Taste, Your Boundless Admiration for Artistic Mediocrities Blessed only with the Gift of Looking Somewhat Like You… so done with Your Infinite Capacity for Seeing Genius in Mental Illness and Originality in Jaw-Dropping Derivativeness (when the Derivativeness is Blessed with the Special Vitamins of Attitude, Early Death or Just Plain Lunacy) … I am So Done with your Susan Boyles, Stephen Malkmuses, GG Alins and your Mother Fucking Daniel Johnstons… and every other avatar of Fucked Up Taste (which is just a symptom of Bourgeois Oedipal Disaffection, after all), I mean, I know, De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est and all but this is ridiculous, friends! Here is your Shit and Here is Your Shinola: Learn the Fucking Difference!“
Seven years later, what can I say? I’ve since seen worse (not musically but socially). Now I can chuckle. But I like that poor, slightly-younger, profoundly pissed-off, me.
“There there,” I want to coo to him. “Things are not going to be getting any better…”
*TFIC = wait, surely you know, by now, what those letters stand for, dear readers.
PS It’s worth it to check out the 2022 performance of this thing (last clip) if you’re into collecting WTFs… @3:30, especially