World’s Worst Records – Blackout Band


1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear
#103: Blackout Band – Video Games (2007)

MATT KELLY writes about the strange case of a band of teens and their 10-year-old rock singer whose voice was like a buzzsaw to the skull.

I’ve written before about how artists such as Steve Winwood and Steve Marriott were able to sing with the power and soul of adults three times their age when they were teenagers. Blackout Band’s Hunter Watson achieves something similar in a negative direction. Frontman for a rock group formed by a group of Virginia middle schoolers, Watson was just eleven years old when this was recorded but sings with a potent, towering lack of ability an adult William Hung or Corey Feldman can only dream of.

Oh my god is he *awful* on the viral “hit” single ‘Video Games’. It’s at least possible the goat on valium strapped to a vibrating chair bleat he adopts was done in character, an attempt to embody the drone-like video game-obsessed narrator of the lyrics, but that doesn’t make it sound any better.

However many times I hear this song, as soon as Watson’s vocals start it’s like a buzzsaw to my skull. Then he shifts up a key on the second verse and he’s even worse, alternating between yelling and mumbling into his shoes. That’s without even mentioning the relentlessly tuneless chorus on which the band interminably yelp, “JUST WANNA PLAY VIDEO GAMES!” from a parallel dimension where melody has yet to be discovered.

It’s only three minutes long but feels much, much longer. And it’s maybe not even the worst song on this album funded by Watson’s mother. The opening guitar solo on ‘Recess Recess’ genuinely sounds like someone who doesn’t understand the instrument and Watson’s tuneless bray is insufferable. Fellow 11-year-old band members Matthew Salutillo and Robert Hunter come off a little better. In fact, Hunter’s bass sounds so good I’m incredulous that a child is playing it, and drummer Salutillo isn’t too bad despite some fucked-up tom fills, but what really lets him down is the distant construction noise production applied to the drums.

But whether the group is laying down the most hopeless guitar riff ever heard on ‘Graffiti’ along with its rhythmically challenged backing vocals, or taking a famous song where it being a shambles was sort of the point and still performing it too shambolically (The Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie’ and I know I’m belabouring the point here but Jesus Christ, Watson’s vocals on this song!), the album is enough to make anyone inclined to the, “But they’re only kids” defence say, “No actually, you’re right this is shit.”

Still, how many other people made a rock record at 10 years old? Can you imagine how awesome an experience that would have been? That it didn’t go anywhere and was terrible isn’t really the point. I’m still jealous, and kudos to the boys for living the dream. Sadly Hunter Watson passed away in 2016 in a vehicular accident at just 20. His family set up Hunter’s Fund, an organization operating to this day which gives grants to young people in need of funding to pursue careers in arts, science and business, and also supports campaigns to reduce distracted driving. They can be found at

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Matthew Kelly is the most important person in the music industry – the type of obsessive nerd without whom it would have no reason to produce box sets and nine-hour long documentaries.

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