1001 Albums You Need To Die Before You Hear
#33: Onision – The Banana Man (2019)
#34: Onision – I’m A Meme (2019)
MATT KELLY thinks he might have found the very worst two records of all time, even though he’s only setting out on his mammoth task.
If you’re particularly unlucky, you may remember when James “Onision” Jackson exploded on YouTube in 2009 with ‘I’m A Banana’, a video in which Jackson dons a banana costume and tunelessly screams nonsense. It was a crude yet important step in the evolution of what we now call meme music, a style where absurdity and annoyance combine to produce ironic appeal.
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Except there’s nothing ironic about Jackson – embodying an early 2000s sense of humour where edge lordery and obnoxiousness are substituted for anything approaching wit, I get the impression we’re actually supposed to find him funny as he psychopathically demands oral sex on Suk Mi and delivers such charming lines as “suck on my butt till you’re covered in my poo.”
A repackaging of his two 2012 albums, the self-titled and Explicit which had gone out of print, The Banana Man is a 34-song 80-minute-long nightmare. You might excuse some of this from an unpopular, neglected, socially maladjusted 15-year-old left alone in his bedroom with a copy of Audacity, but Onision was 27 when he recorded this, 34 when he reissued it and there’s no self-awareness at all.
A repulsive mix of baby rage and gross-out humour, it gets even worse when he tries to make a point with lyrics such as “Oh I’m sorry? Did that offend you? / I make out with dead babies after drowning them in poo-poo.”
Musically it’s the same repetitive, cheap-as-shit Midi sound on track after track, and there’s little in the way of hooks or vocal melodies to be found as it’s clearly Onision’s “lyricism” that’s meant to entertain us despite his total lack of charisma and talent as a vocalist.
Aside from the torrential vomit-stream of “comedy” about killing babies and prostitutes, there are tracks such as ‘Scene Kid Love’ and ‘Her Lies’ when Onision *gets serious* – these and a few others delve into his relationship issues, his misogynistic, solipsistic, endless self-pity putting an end to any sympathy you might feel for an adult so emotionally stunted that they consider the bile elsewhere on the album funny. Irredeemable and supernaturally unentertaining.
Four days before writing this, I tested COVID positive. I lay on my bed, sweating profusely, body occasionally twitching, eyes shut tight in desperate pursuit of oblivion’s release, yet the pulses of nausea and agony kept strobing across my body, breaking any hope I had of rest, gradually wresting me away from the twin balms of sanity and hope. But once I turned this album off it wasn’t so bad and I coped with the flu-like symptoms okay. In fact, I credit this record with driving the COVID out of my body – even a world-cripping virus drew the line at this shit.
With over 900 entries to go on this list, I worry we might be peaking early here because this is one of the big boys. It is widely regarded as one of the worst things ever made, even taking its relatively recent release and subsequent lack of legacy into account.
You see, “Onision” Jackson decided that 2019 was his comeback year and after The Banana Man repackaged old material, I’m A Meme was the fresh load of new material. And I mean load – FIFTY SONGS AT TWO AND A HALF HOURS.
Opening with ‘I Am Depressed’, over which Jackson sings about how he wants to cut and hang himself in a squeaky falsetto, as you absorb how tasteless and unfunny and just plain bad sounding this is, you console yourself by thinking that the initial wave of shock will at least condition you to endure the rest. Boy, would you be wrong.
The absolutely horrific ‘Family Channel’ which depicts parent YouTubers abusing their child for views is the product of a sick mind while ‘Grandpa And Grandma’ is about having sex with – you know what? I’m stopping there. I’m not summarizing any more of these lyrics. The psychic contamination isn’t worth it. I survived COVID but I’m not sure I can take this. The only thing more depressing than a 35-year-old adult producing these songs and calling it comedy is my concern that he’s doing it BECAUSE SOMEONE ELSE OUT THERE IS BUYING IT.
Though they are naive and underdeveloped, some of his instrumentals are actually not so bad, but that could just be the relief at Onision shutting his awful, awful mouth. I will concede that ‘Flappy Bird Song’ is a banger but it’s less than one minute out of 250. Perhaps the most repellant audio snapshot of a personality ever committed to record, I Am A Meme is a towering monolith of the worst of the internet which is physically agonizing to get through and I am considering starting a support group for survivors.
To paraphrase an old one, before I heard this I was worried nuclear apocalypse was coming. Now I’m worried that it isn’t.