Browsing Tag

Freddie Mercury

Career Killers: “Hot Space” by Queen

Plenty of artists like to experiment with new sounds and different genres. Sometimes it’ll be a temporary or one-time thing, like when KISS tried disco (I’m sorry, KISSco), the Rolling Stones went psychedelic or Garth Brooks kind-of went pop.

Other times, it’ll be a catalyst for long-term re-invention. Chicago had a surprise hit with “If You Leave Me Now” and they continued writing songs of that ilk, transitioning from a jazz-and-big-band-influenced rock group into an adult contemporary band. The Bee Gees resurrected their careers and eventually became a full-fledged dance band after recording “Jive Talkin’.” Less successful bands like The Goo Goo Dolls, Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth embraced their black-sheep hits and permanently changed directions in order to continue churning out similar-sounding singles and albums.

We’ll never know if Hot Space was meant as a permanent shift for Queen because it flopped so hard that the band promptly retreated back to more familiar territory – but not before tanking their popularity in America.

(more…)

The Reluctant Pop Star

“There is no such thing as a reluctant star. Stars are almost always people that want to make up for their own weaknesses by being loved by the public and I’m no exception to that.” — George Michael, 1987.

But there is such a thing as a reluctant pop star. George Michael was no different from the many singer-songwriters desperate for critical acclaim and credibility. What made him unique was that he was willing to throw away his chance at being the biggest pop star and sex symbol in the world because he believed that his songs were good enough to sell themselves.

And in most cases, he was right.

(more…)

Music Was The Least Interesting Thing About David Bowie

I’ll admit it. I was never a David Bowie fan. I didn’t care for his music, nor did I really understand his appeal. I have one David Bowie song in my iTunes library – and it’s a song that’s more identified with Queen than with him.

Then I read about him.

Bowie passed away on Monday at the age of 69 after suffering from liver cancer. The news came as a shock to most people, as Bowie had kept his diagnosis private. His death has, obviously, prompted a tremendous outpouring of grief, as well as the usual assessments of his long and successful career. It was kind of a shock, actually, seeing the huge numbers of people who were sad to find out about his passing. After all, he hasn’t had a hit record in years and, arguably, hasn’t really been relevant as an artist since the 1990s. Whether it was because he kept a low profile away from the stage or because he never settled into the nostalgic oldies singer role that many of his colleagues had, most of us simply haven’t seen much of him in recent years. As such, it was easy to forget about him and the music that he continued to make up until his death (indeed, he released Blackstar the Friday before he passed away).

(more…)

Album Review: “Head Job” by Phil Rudd

As Phil Rudd found out, it may be a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n roll, but it doesn’t take much to get shot down in flames. Rudd’s position as drummer for AC/DC has been on ice (Black Ice. Okay, I’ll stop.) ever since he was arrested last November for attempting to hire a hitman and possession of drugs (Chris Slade, who played drums on 1990’s The Razor’s Edge is replacing Rudd for the current tour). The murder-procurement charge was dismissed, and Rudd pleaded guilty on Tuesday to threatening to kill a former employee.

(more…)

Album Review: “Chinese Democracy” by Guns ‘N Roses

Another one of my old favorites from my Livejournal blog. If I could add anything, it would be that the album does NOT get better with age.

I have no idea if Axl Rose is a Star Wars fan.

On the one hand, I would doubt it. After all, Axl doesn’t strike me as the kind of sci-fi nerd that would wait in line for tickets and dress up like Obi-Wan Kenobi at Comic-Con.

On the other hand, the galactic soap opera that is Star Wars could very well have served as an inspiration for some of Guns N’ Roses’ high-concept and utterly confusing videos from their heyday in the early 90’s. “Don’t Cry” showed Axl’s domestic trauma and battle against his inner demons, kind of like Anakin Skywalker’s struggle with the Dark Side and his dysfunctional relationship with his son. “November Rain” showed Axl at his happiest, only to lose everything at the end, kind of like how Anakin seemingly lost everything as he made his transformation into Darth Vader. “Estranged,” uh, showed Axl playing with dolphins. I don’t have a Star Wars parallel for that one. Maybe the Ewoks? Maybe whatever Jar Jar Binks was supposed to be?

Why do I bring up Star Wars? Because, like Chinese Democracy, the Star Wars prequel trilogy took decades to develop and produce, cost untold millions, and generated such ridiculously high expectations upon its release that there was no way the final product could ever live up to the hype. With Chinese Democracy, Axl Rose has finally released his Star Wars prequel trilogy. It only took 14 years, an estimated $13 million (as of 2005), and more band members than we can count (including two separate tenures by guitarist Robin Finck, whose contract expired twice before the album was even close to seeing the light of day).

(more…)