Dawn of the Dumb

There’s an odd feeling you get when you see someone getting famous by, ostensibly, living out your dream. Imagine, for example, how a programming nerd would feel when he looks at Bill Gates; or when the guy who actually invented the telephone looked at Alexander Graham Bell; or when heroin addicts look at Scott Weiland. It’s jealousy mixed with vindication: “Achieving my dreams can result in moderate success! Too bad that guy did it, rather than me.”

Charlie Brooker is living my dream. I bought his book, Dawn of the Dumb, today (in HMV for €4 – get it!). The quote on the back of the book sold it to me: “I don’t get people. What’s their appeal, precisely? They waddle around with their haircuts on, cluttering the pavement like gormless, farting skittles. They’re awful.” I’m not saying that he’s a man after my own heart or anything, but his casual, bitter misanthropy and meandering, metaphor-obsessed writing style remind me of… well… me. And get a load of the About the Author bit:

Charlie Brooker is a writer and broadcaster. He created the satirical website TV Go Home in 1999, which in turn spawned Channel 4’s Nathan Barley (co-written with Chris Morris). Prior to joining the Guardian in 2004, Brooker worked as a cartoonist and videogames “journalist”. He currently writes and presents Charlie Brooker’s Screen Wipe on BBC4.

It reads, give or take a few TV series, like a list of what I want to have achieved by the time I’m 40. Presently, I’ve achieved this much of that list: not much at all.

But! I have accomplished something akin to a decent start on achieving one of those goals: being a cartoonist. Yesterday was the start of a weekly feature I’ll be doing on a music blog called the Subservient Experiment. Each Monday, they run a section called LOLCORNELLZ. And each Monday, I’ll be contributing a small comic strip featuring Mr. Cornell, where I find new and interesting ways of running down his “experiment” with R n’ B and Timbaland, otherwise known as the soon-to-be-released-to-little-or-no-acclaim-album Scream.

If you haven’t heard anything from Scream, do yourself a favour, and continue that trend. As much as Cornell had been slipping into middle-aged mediocrity with Audioslave and Carry On, nothing could have prepared you for the vaccuum of goodness that is this record. So, if your ears are still untainted, and you want them to stay that way, then pat yourself on the back, smile a cheery smile, and be on your way. For the rest of you, follow the click.

You dirty masochists.

Why Cornell would suddenly turn to identikit hip-pop production beggars belief, but hey: he’s entitled to want a hit, I guess. If he thinks this is a surefire way to get a decently-charting single, more power to him. I certainly won’t be buying the record, and I’ll definitely give it a good rib-kicking for being unspeakably awful, but making awful music is his right as a millionaire rock star. If everyone got horrifically bent out of shape everytime a rock star made some bad music, Nickelback-related heart failure would be the number one cause of death worldwide, beating out hunger, AIDS, guns and Maximo Park-related heart failure.

No, the bad music I can accept. What I can’t accept is Cornell’s fervent desire to push this as something new and innovative. As if the fact that it’s Chris Cornell singing tired r’n’b songs instead of Justin Whatshislake makes it the most innovative thing to happen to music since the gramophone. The constantly spun-out marketing line for this album is that its the modern Dark Side of the Moon, because the songs segue into each other. What Cornell, Timbaland, and the entire marketing team can’t seem to grasp is that an album full of bad songs that interconnect doesn’t make for a new DSOTM – it makes for an album that’s one long piece of hot cuss.

The official video for Part of Me (which for some reason, WordPress wouldn’t let me embed – is there some kind of quality filter in effect?) is even more embarrassing than the lyrics. Cornell’s sat to the side of a “bouncing” club scene, observing the “drama”. But is he affected by what’s going down? No! That b***h ain’t a part of him! Meanwhile, he singularly fails to realise that instead of looking like a coolly detached observer, he instead resembles a creepy uncle paying too much attention to ladies half his age, while crooning some vaguely misogynistic lyrics about a “little girl”.

It’s just a sad fall from grace, I guess. It’s been long and drawn out, but up until now, it had at least been a freefall. But if Cornell’s post-Euphoria Morning career had been Wile E. Coyote running a dozen steps over the cliff, then looking down, holding up a flag saying “Uh oh”, and beginning the long fall to the hard desert ground beneath, Scream, and its surrounding calamities, is Homer Simpson tumbling down the jagged side of the cliff, colliding with every protruding rock and branch along the way, landing in bruised, broken and bloodied heap.


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