The 7 Least Anticipated Albums of 2014
With a new year underway, lots of music sites and publications have started rolling out lists of all the swell music-related things you should be looking forward to over the next 12 months. This, obviously, is not that list. Instead, what I want to highlight here are those things that, at first glance, might seem like the kind of thing a music fan would want to make note of on their calendar.
For me, Yoga Cats.
Upon further examination, it becomes readily apparent that the stuff on this list, even if you are looking forward to it, is probably going to be a massive disappointment.
You won't agree with me about a lot of these things, which is normal for an article like this one. I know it must be frustrating to only be able to vent your frustration in the comment section knowing full well you're unlikely to receive a response. I can't do much to change that, but if it makes you feel any better, you do have someone speaking on your behalf this week.
Oh, hey! That's the latest episode of Unpopular Opinion, a new Cracked podcast hosted by me. It's where we gather to talk about the less fact-based side of Cracked. So, you know, articles like this one. Joining along this week to tell me how wrong I am about music and life in general is my archnemesis, Gladstone.
Someone's wearing lifts! And a gorilla fur coat!
Joining along as the guest who doesn't say a bunch of stupid stuff no one likes is Katie Willert, whom you should recognize from After Hours, among several other Cracked locations. So that's fun!
Now, here are the seven least anticipated albums of 2014.
Limp Bizkit -- Stampede of the Disco Elephants
We're all familiar with the term "shooting fish in a barrel," correct? It means you're picking off an easy target, and that's definitely what's happening here. Saying that most people aren't looking forward to a new Limp Bizkit album is like saying most people aren't looking forward to dying in a car accident. It doesn't need to be said, everyone just knows.
Still, someone has to tell you that a new Limp Bizkit album is coming, even if only to give you time to build up a sufficient stockpile of jokes to tweet on the day it's eventually released.
I don't know exactly when that's going to be, but Fred Durst told Reddit to expect it sometime in the first quarter of the year. I'd say don't hold your breath, but if you're looking forward to this album, there probably isn't much damage left that holding your breath can cause anyway.
Sorry if that makes you want to break stuff; I hope you know I only mean you probably have brain damage of some sort if you listen to Limp Bizkit. There's no reason to get bent out of shape about it, bro. Besides, there is a silver lining in that they still have that half-decent guitar player that Fred Durst totally doesn't deserve. That's good news, even if it's super sad that he can't find a job he's not ashamed of.
If you stare at the disco ball long enough, the rest of him fades into the background.
That's Wes Borland, the man who I like to imagine turns every Limp Bizkit concert into some sort of reverse Sucker Punch situation where he straps on elaborate costumes that could only exist in your imagination ...
... and then escapes to a fantasy world inside his head where everyone is just a regular dude who looks like this ...
Jeff? Steve? Rick! Mike?
... just to lessen the mental pain that comes with playing stupid Fred Durst songs for a living.
Whatever the case, for a lot of us, when we hear that a new Limp Bizkit album is on the way, we're quick to wonder who would actually pay money for such an abomination. Well, guess what? I have an answer! It's this guy ...
Birdman -- Bigga Than Life
You know who I don't mind one bit? Lil' Wayne. Yes, I understand that's approximately the rap version of saying you like Nickelback, but I don't care. The operative word in the previous sentence should be "understand." I get it. I really do. For some reason I just don't hate Lil' Wayne the way a lot of people do, but I get why they do. For some reason I just fall in with that also fairly large group of people who feel otherwise. That said, my fandom has its limits. For example, you'd be hard-pressed to get me to give a shit about a new album by the man Lil' Wayne kind of creepily alternates between calling "daddy" and "Baby."
His legal name is Birdman. He's one of the owners of Cash Money Records, and he allegedly has a new album coming out this year. I say "allegedly" because this project has been rumored to be coming out for years now. You can likely attribute the delay to the fact that Baby earned his rap degree at the P. Diddy school of music, which roughly translates to "other people write his rhymes." That process takes time, probably because the legitimately talented rappers have their own shit to write. Who knows?
What I do know is that, if you're looking for someone to blame for the return of the aforementioned Fred Durst, you should take your complaints up with Birdman.
"The fuck do I have to do with this?"
Check out this quote:
"If we find some great talent, we're gonna embrace it. Limp Bizkit, to me, is just a perfect match for us."
That's Baby talking about signing Limp Bizkit to Cash Money Records. I put a lot of emphasis on the band name there, because I really can't emphasize enough that the "great talent" he's talking about is Limp Bizkit.
Are those the words of a man you trust to make a great album in 2014?
Courtney Love -- Died Blonde
Bad news, guys: Hole broke up. I know, I was surprised, too. I mean, sure, the last "Hole" album didn't feature any actual members of the band aside from Courtney Love. But still, the new album she claimed is coming out in 2014 and then probably forgot about seconds later is billed as a Courtney Love solo album, so whatever incarnation of Hole was living in her head has apparently disbanded.
It's sort of like how Billy Corgan sometimes releases solo albums and sometimes releases "Smashing Pumpkins" albums and nobody gives a shit either way because the only original member who stuck around when things went south was the drummer, Jimmy Chamberlain, a man so invaluable to the band that they fired him once and recorded an entire album before they even bothered replacing him. They just used a machine, a tactic we normally only accept from a rock band if the drummer has less than one arm.
This looks like a potential violation.
Anyway, we're talking about Courtney Love and her new solo album. It's called Died Blonde, which is a reference to a Foo Fighters song about how Courtney Love is terrible, unless I'm mistaken.
If it is, then of all the things Courtney Love has done over the past 20 years, that album title is my favorite.
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga -- Cheek to Cheek
This entry sort of hurts to write, because I like Lady Gaga a lot. I've been kicking around the idea of writing an entire column about her, in fact. I even suspect that, given what this album will be and the demographic it will appeal to, it might even be a little better than what usually results from this kind of pairing.
That said, this is a tactic that has to be wearing out its welcome a little bit, right? It was pretty neat way back in 1999 when Carlos Santana won every Grammy for doing the impossible by making the guy from Matchbox Twenty seem cool.
We were a lot less impressed when he returned a few years later with the lead singer of Nickelback and the world's pre-eminent Christian rap/rock band, P.O.D.
It was enough to open the floodgates, and really old musicians teaming up with the kids has been a phenomenon that hasn't slowed down since. Willie Nelson joined the club in October when he released To All the Girls ..., an album of nothing but Willie Nelson getting high and dueting with young female singers. He doesn't get high on the album, mind you, I'm just confident that's how every Willie Nelson endeavor begins.
Anyway, if Willie's last album somehow managed to get you hooked on the sweet sounds of old dudes singing with young women ...
... Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga's Cheek to Cheek is for you, I guess.
Anyone from The Voice
The last time I checked, the most recent alumni from NBC's hit singing competition show The Voice to announce an upcoming album was the Swon Brothers from Season 4. It doesn't matter, though, because you have no fucking idea who the Swon Brothers are (above, dummy) unless you actually watch The Voice. And I do! That's the entire point of this entry, in fact.
See, in my opinion, The Voice is the best show of its kind that has ever aired. I legitimately enjoy watching that show because I legitimately appreciate most of the talent on that show, including the judges.
On the show, anyway.
Sure, Blake Shelton isn't my favorite, but if someone's going to break the news that you're a way shittier singer than you thought, he's at least a slightly more reliable source than Paula Abdul was.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I've watched and thoroughly enjoyed every season of The Voice. I also couldn't tell you the name of a single person who's ever won that show. Well, I know a singer named Tessanne Chin won the most recent season, but that's only because that season ended like two weeks ago and the outcome was some bullshit because Jacquie Lee deserved it way more.
Still, I'll probably forget both of their names in time as well, because without exception, no one does a goddamn thing of note after leaving The Voice. I'm not saying American Idol is batting a thousand in the winners department, but by the time their fourth season rolled around, they'd already brought us the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, and Carrie Underwood. No matter where you stand on their work, there's at least a chance you know who they are.
By comparison, try these three names next: Javier Colon, Jermaine Paul, Danielle Bradbury. Any of them sound familiar? They probably don't, and that's why The Voice is such a perplexing show. Enough seasons have passed that, by now, it should have produced at least one borderline star, right? It hasn't, though, and I'm going to give you my best guess as to why I think that might be, stated in terms I know every fan of The Voice will understand. Here goes: Remember the offense Mike Shanahan ran when he coached the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the late 1990s?
That's the one.
Remember how it seemed like he could just plug any running back into that system and turn him into a 1,000-yard rusher, but when the player eventually got traded to another team he always kind of sucked?
"Of course we do," said thousands of reality singing competition enthusiasts in unison just now.
It might sound strange, but I think your favorite reality singing competition show and the backfield of your favorite offshoot of Bill Walsh's legendary West Coast offense work the exact same way. The system each entity put in place is so expertly crafted that you can plug practically anyone with a minimal amount of talent into the mix and make them look like a star. Get them out of that system, though, and it all falls apart.
Guns N' Roses -- Unknown
I intended to avoid including any album that didn't at least have a confirmed title. Then I saw that there were rumors swirling about a new Guns N' Roses album in 2014. There isn't a lot of additional information available, but including it here isn't completely without reason. Here's the thing: If history is any indication, we'll still be talking about whether or not this album is coming out at least a decade from now.
When that day comes, I will take all sorts of smug satisfaction in being able to say, "I didn't care when that album was coming out 10 years ago before it even had a name."
Johnny Cash -- Out Among the Stars
I'm a huge fan of Johnny Cash. I cried the day he died. "Huge fan" probably isn't even a sufficient description. So, if you're part of that contingent of commenters who skipped everything except the words "Johnny Cash" and are now down there explaining that you stopped reading once you saw that name on a list like this one ... good. I hope it ruined your day. I hope you never come back to read the rest of this, kind of forget about it because you have a shitty day at work, and then remember it all over again when you hear "Folsom Prison Blues" on the radio during your commute home.
I obviously didn't put Johnny Cash on this list because he makes bad music. I did put him on the list because he used to make bad music, and this album is a holdover from those days.
It seems almost unthinkable now, but before Rick Rubin came along and made him cool again, the career of Johnny Cash had become a bit of a joke. The unlikely duo spent the next 10 years or so returning Johnny Cash to his rightful place in country lore.
Before that, he spent most of the 1980s making really cheesy and awful music. How awful? Awful enough that when he tried to release an intentionally terrible song in the hopes that someone at the record label would notice he was still alive, the song ended up being one of his biggest hits of the entire decade.
Did you listen to that? If not, you just missed Johnny Cash singing about having his brain transplanted into the body of a chicken. That was the defining song of that decade for him. That's how bad things were in the '80s.
It was during this low point in the career of Johnny Cash that Out Among the Stars was recorded. It was shelved after Cash was eventually dropped from his label. Neither of those facts do anything in the way of convincing me that this will be an album worth owning. Sure, it was produced by Nashville legend Billy Sherrill, the man who brought you the best goddamn George Jones song ever, among other hits ...
... but what are the chances the '80s were any better to that guy?
Even with all of that considered, this could just as easily be amazing. After all, it is Johnny Cash, and he is working with the guy who was partially responsible for the magic of "He Stopped Loving Her Today." I'm sure it's not the worst thing you'll listen to this year. If you're hoping this will be another document from the fascinating final years of his career or a lost gem from his glorious Sun Records days, don't be surprised if you come away from the experience more than a little disappointed.
Don't be too hard on Johnny Cash, though. The 1980s were a weird time for everyone, even those of us who didn't have to fight our way back from nearly being murdered by an ostrich.
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