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First they dropped. Then they sank like stones.

Nelly Furtado should close her eyes and wish that her - new album didn't suck so bad.
  • Nelly Furtado should close her eyes and wish that her new album didn't suck so bad.
Christmastime is boom or bust for record companies. Labels push to get their biggest albums out on store shelves, often rushing records to release before they're the best they can be. On the flip side, many quality lower-profile albums get overlooked. With this in mind, we thought we'd evaluate half a dozen of the biggest bombs over the holiday season, to assess whether they deserved to be coal in their labels' stockings.

Enrique Iglesias, 7 (Interscope)
Enrique Iglesias stares off into the distance on the cover of his latest, as if he's attempting to calculate the square root of pi -- or maybe just trying to remember where he left his car keys. Either way, Enrique is not nearly as perplexed as we are, trying to comprehend how this Latin-pop lightweight has gotten seven albums into a career that should have been over before it started. Enrique is perpetually out of breath on 7, sounding as if he's doing wind sprints in the vocal booth, moaning lyrics that could have been cribbed from a porno flick ("Touch me/It's the way you touch/Oh baby/Uh-uh ooh yeah" he groans on the second cut, "The Way You Touch Me"). Combined with watered-down disco and limp guitar, the result is an album as vacant as Enrique's stare.
Verdict: Burn it.

Missy Elliott, This Is Not a Test! (Elektra)
"Like a brick wall, I'm hard to break," Missy Elliott announces at the beginning of her latest -- an untimely boast, since Test has revealed a fissure in Missy's fanbase. But in a so-so year for commercial rap, Missy's fifth LP was easily worth more attention than Jay-Z's absurdly overrated farewell or the debut from cookie-cutter criminals G-Unit. Missy produced half the album herself, rhyming about vibrators and midgets over beats as fluid as Cristal. Granted, there's a putrid R. Kelly cut ("Dats What I'm Talkin About") on which the R&B crooner sounds like a rogue Bee Gee, but that aside, it was rap fans who failed this Test, not Ms. Elliott.
Verdict: Buy it.

Nelly Furtado, Folklore (Dreamworks)
Leading off her sophomore album with a track titled "One-Trick Pony" has proved inadvertently prescient for this eclectic pop diva. A ridiculously cluttered and overwrought affair, Folklore pairs guest spots by the Kronos Quartet, Béla Fleck, Jarvis Church, even Incubus's runty little guitar player into a dizzying mess of an album. Furtado is clearly trying to figure her sound out here, with cello, organ, viola, banjo, mandolin, harmonium, and dozens of other instruments vying for time in the mix. But what results is less an album than the sound of a Guitar Center exploding. Moreover, Folklore is front-loaded, with the album's first three singles all delivered by track four -- not that we really care to go much further.
Verdict: Burn it.

Pink, Try This (Arista)
On Try This, Pink goes bad -- and her sales follow suit. Enlisting the potty-mouth Peaches to rhyme about her girlie parts may not have won Pink any points with the all-important TRL set, but it did set a deliciously tawdry tone for Pink's third record. With Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong writing and producing half the album, Pink sneers and leers her way through 13 cuts like a Billy Idol with ovaries, making this album a disappointment only to Arista's bean counters.
Verdict: Buy it.

Puddle of Mudd, Life on Display (Interscope)
Does anybody even know this record was released? No? Let's keep it that way.
Verdict: Burn it.

Korn, Take a Look in the Mirror (Epic/Immortal)
After Korn's last album underperformed, the band's mopey frontman Jonathan Davis finally had something real to cry about. But instead of sulking, Davis and company came back with the strong, streamlined Take a Look in the Mirror. Self-produced, Mirror digs beneath the dense layers of effects that saturated 2002's Untouchables to mine raw emotion. Simultaneously upping the hate and the humor with guttural scream-alongs ("Break Some Off") checked by tongue-in-cheek temper tantrums ("Y'All Want Single"), Mirror was one of the best rock records of 2003.
Verdict: Buy it.

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