The Apocalypse Sure Is Catchy
This album features the singing debut of actress Leighton Meester, aka Blair from The CW’s Gossip Girl. This is the latest album by the only band that wrote a song for the 2006 film Snakes on a Plane, named themselves as homage to the film in question before its release to the public, and became subsequently wildly popular despite both of these facts. This album features a wussy pop-punk backbone, an obnoxious emo mallcore sheen, and gooey computerized synth-dance guts. Lastly, the album’s name originates from a catchphrase coined by the winner of the fourth season of Bravo’s fashion reality show Project Runway. And I knew all of this without having to Google a damn thing.
In other words, welcome to the apocalypse. My name is Chris and as a resident enthusiast on the subject, I will be your guide. Please watch your step as you enter the bus, keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times, and strap the fuck on, because this is a ride that will give you equal amounts of pleasure and pain, and we may very well be dead by the time we return your fannypacked ass to the depot, so enjoy it while it lasts.
As we begin, take a quick look to your right as we speed by, completely ignoring the record’s first two tracks. We can’t help it; we weren’t even planning on reviewing Hot Mess until we reached the third song, despite the second’s title, “Pete Wentz Is The Only Reason We’re Famous”, which is both a true statement and I can only assume, completely devoid of any tongue-in-cheek sentiment, seeing as how the band is signed to Wentz’s label Decaydance. Oh, it seems we are coming to a halt to rightly observe that aforementioned hit single “Good Girls Go Bad”, featuring a guest verse sung by none other than Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl fame. Listen how Meester’s vocals get prettied up by a digital audio makeover so blatantly and yet here we all sit, mildly bobbing our heads up and down like a her of mindless jackanapes. The marriage between Avril Lavigne faux-angst and bubbly 80s revivalism is heavenly, no?
Thank you, sir, in the front, for konking the driver out of his daze and letting us be on our way now, thus relinquishing me from my own state of soulless hypnotic stoicism as well. Let us just pay minor attention to the next couple songs as we glide through them in our zombie-esque state of pop-hook hangover. They’re quieter, gentler creatures, aren’t they? “Fold Your Hands Child” is almost, dare I say, delicate? Generic, quite, but it, along with the slightly more annoying follow-up “You’re Not in on the Joke”, is almost soothing to listen to. It’s innocuous cookie-cutter verse-chorus wankery, yes, but…oh, it looks like you’ve all fallen asleep. I guess it’s just me who feels this strange combination of elation and serenity. Moving on…
Settle down, people, it’s okay! I apologize for waking you all so suddenly out of a sound sleep. You will all get refunds at the end of our musical safari. This is a completely normal part of the tour! We’ve made it to the album’s halfway point and it could have only been expected that we come head up against something as gratingly cloying as the Christian Siriano-inspired title track. Yes, those are bongos in the distance, miss, and no, I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do about them. Don’t worry, the song will be over soon and we can all go back to ignoring me and my stupid reservations about hating the subject of our journey, Cobra Starship. Who knows, maybe by the end of this, you will see the charm in their—what’s that? Yes, ma’am, you in the back, what’s that? Oh. Okay; I’ll shut up now. Wait, mom, is that you?
[Off the record verbal tango ensues; feedback on the bus intercom screeches loudly. Passengers erupt in disgust, demanding to be let off. “I don’t care if I’m in the lava pits of Hades, just let me off this godforsaken tour!” a man in a Godtopus t-shirt exclaims.]
People, people, let’s think rationally about this for a second. Sure, we have five songs left to endure before you get your money’s worth, but must I remind you that not only was this tour completely and utterly free, but also, I am giving you a chance to experience something that’s totally one of a kind. The pop music apocalypse is not something you walk away from. It’s not something you hate and brush under the rug, trying to push it out of your mind until it rears its ugly head again. No. The Armageddon of pop culture reference-laden turd tunes that is Cobra Starship’s Hot Mess needs to be survived AND enjoyed. We must look it in its piercingly devilish eye and say to it, “I love you, despite you.” The end of days is no guilty pleasure because when we have nothing but guilt on our consciences as we dive head first into the splendor of hell, we must let the pain and the gratification coalesce into one. Will you join me, folks, in this final foray into 2009’s most brutal offering of bliss and agony?
[Cue track seven: “Living in the Sky With Diamonds”. As the song’s over-processed muted guitar whooshes in, one by one the masses on the tour bus rise up, fists clenched, seemingly ready to attack their defenseless, very weak guide, his hand nervously frozen to the handheld intercom speaker. As the pre-chorus ecstatically crescendos to the calm but incendiary refrain, however, the crowd suddenly erupts into an unrepentant dance party of cinematic proportions. Confetti inexplicably explodes from within, a disco ball is lowered, the lights are dimmed, and wild hedonism engulfs the scene. Pan out, fade out, and as the credits roll, cut to the equally ebullient eighth cut off Hot Mess, “Wet Hot American Summer”.]
Note: The remaining three songs on this album (and the record’s lyrics as a whole, while we’re at it) could not be properly reviewed due to various constraints, including but certainly not limited to lack of interest in giving proper consideration to a band named after a Samuel L. Jackson joke movie and inability to listen carefully to over 30 minutes of the same song over and over again. Also, I have three more episodes on this Netflix’d disc of Battlestar Galactica to watch before the mailman arrives.
Chris Polley teaches high school English, often with his hair disheveled and a glint of crazy in his eye, in the Midwest’s greatest city, Minneapolis. He rambles on and conducts discourse with friends and strangers about the horrific beast that is pop culture over at The Blogulator.
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