Simply The Pits

nickelback-729-620x349THE OTHER WEEK I got a lovely surprise in the mail: a double CD thoughtfully compiled by the local branch of Warner Music, called Simply The Best Rock Ballads.
To say that it’s shit doesn’t even get close. The first disc is crammed full of identikit American college rock from the ‘90s – or songs that sound like they’re from the ‘90s – that pretty much all sound like they wanted to be Kurt Cobain/Nirvana. Except that any resemblance is utterly superficial. Yes, there’s the quick-cut soft/loud dynamic and the horribly earnest murmuring voices, but there’s nothing to recommend these tracks, because they reek of industry intervention, pliant young musicians looking to capture a willing market and make some dollars while doing so, and… well, the music is just so insufferably boring. And so emotionally indulgent.
Suddenly, I was almost glad to be an old fart that was alive in the groovy ‘60s and old enough to be a music fan in the spectacular ‘70s. I can’t think of anything more depressing than having this crap as the soundtrack to my youth. And of course, this is now all about nostalgia, already. The fact that most of these aren’t actually ‘rock ballads’ and that they’re categorically not ‘the best’ doesn’t matter: if the marketing is effective, the kids that were conned into liking it the first time round might just be willing to invest in some cheap nostalgia the second time round, now that they’re probably wearing shaved heads to avoid facing up to the diametrically increasing size of their bald spots, and sporting orangutan-sized pie tummies.
rock balladsFancy that, nostalgia for the crappy ‘90s! Who in their right mind could get a warm feeling listening to Nickelback or Staind or the Goo Goo Dolls?
The compilation isn’t chronological, at all. On the first disc, it does eat into the first decade of the 21st Century as well, with tracks by Velvet Revolver and 2 Doors Down and The Calling, and more than I care to mention.
Hilariously, the token local track is the Push Push non-hit from 1991, ‘Dig My World’, and Mikey Havoc and pals are a lot more fun than anything else you’ll find on this grim record. I mean, big hair and Twisted Sister I can deal with. Preposterous is, at least, fun. But grunge ruined all that.
The second disc is a little more entertaining, if just about as nonsensical. It’s all over the show, even dipping its athlete’s foot into the ‘70s and ‘80s with tracks by Alice Cooper, Whitesnake and Foreigner. Except it’s not the tracks you might expect. I mean, Alice Cooper: where’s ‘Only Women Bleed’? Foreigner: where’s ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’? It’s all crap, but there’s something so bad about American AOR groups like Journey that there’s some satisfaction in sitting and snorting in derision at their ridiculously permed, homogenised attempt at wooing the young men and women of America.
PushPush1I don’t know why compilations like this exist. It’s not a good representation of rock ballads, it’s not a good representation of post-grunge rock, it’s not a good representation of anything, just more future landfill.
I’m not anti-record companies. And if they’ve got to release albums like this to fund really great albums, then so-be-it. But I’d really, really like to know why this album exists. Surely, surely, it’s not on the charts. I’m afraid to even look. GARY STEEL

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