There are many musicians that have made mistakes in the past. Lars Ulrich probably gets a bit red-faced whenever the Napster saga is mentioned, Michael Jackson’s ill-advised adventures with children have always cast a shadow over his career, and let’s not forget the recent debacle over Chris Brown and his jumpy fists. Despite the glorious pedestals modern society chooses to put them on, musicians are still human. It is important to remember this when considering Chris Cornell‘s new venture. Chris Cornell, a human being despite his involvement in the seminal Soundgarden, is capable of the same weaknesses as any other. Humans, we must remember, are not perfect. Humans make mistakes.
And my God, could this be the one that haunts Cornell to the grave. The signs were always there of course. A man who has that many female fans is always at risk of buckling under the strain of being a sex symbol; ‘Original Fire’, Audioslave’s last single before disintegrating, was a bizarre attempt at forcing Tom Morello’s guitar and covert political lyrics into a dance track; and let’s be honest, Cornell’s career has taken a somewhat plummeting trajectory since Soundgarden parted ways. And here is where his luxurious private jet careens straight into a mountain of cold, hard realisation.
The doubts started the moment he was announced – Timbaland, that bastion of banal, depressing R’n’B and guest slots, was to produce Cornell’s new opus. This is the same man who is happy to put his time, effort and talents into the abominable musical careers of talentless wenches like Ashley Tisdale, Lindsay Lohan, Ashlee Simpson and The Pussycat Dolls. What on earth is Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden, doing hanging around with these gutter dwellers? Well, there’s only one real answer that I can fathom: to eradicate any ounce of credibility and artistic ability within his body and soul, for nothing more than fame and fortune. I’m not sure I need to cover the music here really. Turn the radio on – the single the label executives chose (‘Part of Me’) will be playing non-stop I’m sure. And whilst you sit there, listening to the track that they chose to sell the album as best as possible, consider that the album is pretty much that, fourteen times over.
Notable face-palm moments include the album’s introduction – what sounds like a cheap Casio keyboard on the trumpet setting pisses out a fanfare before a processed voice introduces Cornell; the horrific lyrics of ‘Ground Zero’ are possibly more damaging than the actual events that inspired the song. And then there’s the title track – it goes on for over six minutes, an unfathomable length for a song that seeps out of the speakers like some form of phallic discharge.
What I think Chris Cornell needs is a psychiatric assessment, and unfortunately I’m not qualified enough to do one. I know what you’re thinking as you read this – “oh Mike, it’s so easy for you to criticise the man, but at least he’s trying something new.” And you’re right, it has been easy for me to criticise Cornell, because I’ve never felt so insulted by a musician’s change of direction. ‘Scream’ is a collection of identikit, electronically-computed, lowest common denominator dance grooves that has reduced Cornell’s talent to nothing but repetitive vocal lines in order not to confuse its target audience: people whose I.Q is far, far below the national average. It’s difficult, as a fan of rock and alternative music, not to feel completely and utterly betrayed by Cornell’s change of tack. But, throughout the whole album, there was only one emotion that I was truly struck by: pure embarrassment.
Listen to this album on Spotify.
Originally published at Sonic Dice.