Call me a contrarian, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than reading a really scathing music review – even more so if it’s of something I like. And believe me there’s no better place for really bitchy reviews than our very own internet.
My current quest for fantastically negative reviews originates from a casual interest in the making of Radiohead’s Kid A, the bands polarising album of 2000. The good reviews were good, but the bad reviews were really bad. I noticed that it had received glowing praise from most of the usual media outlets, but only got 1.5 stars from British music press Melody Maker. This I had to see. Referring to the overall sound as “post-bollocks”, this review almost surpasses the famous two-word review of Spinal Tap’s Shark Sandwich (“Shit Sandwich”) in its nastiness and hilarity. The track Optimistic: “we race hell-for-leather down Tuneless Wank Boulevard,” The National Anthem: “utterly redefines the notion of ‘unlistenability’” Brilliant stuff, but one can’t help but think that the reviewer had personal reasons for so damning an attack, ie. he would have rather heard an album of Creep repeated 12 times.
Music review site Metacritic conveniently has a worst reviewed list for those interested. The number 1 worst album? Playing With Fire by Kevin Federline (AKA The former Mr. Britney Spears). But surely this doesn’t come as any surprise; the reviews mostly discuss the tragicomic story of K-Fed’s semi-rise and fall rather than critique the music.
A funnier, though no less easy, target is Limp Bizkit (pictured below displaying the finesse that's made them famous). Remember them? They’re those schmucks that helped make being an aggressive, baggy pants-wearing goon fashionable to shopping centre-dwelling bogans everywhere. Limp Bizkit’s 2003 album Results May Vary comes in at No. 3 on Metacritic’s worst reviewed list. The album was described by the usually civil All Music Guide as having “inane lyrics that are shocking in their banality,” and described singer Fred Durst as “the worst front man in the history of rock.” Launch website was even more concise: “No, Fred, the results don't vary. The results are consistent throughout your new album - consistently crappy.”
Sufjan Steven’s album Come On Feel The Illinoise! has torn me lately. It was one of the best reviewed albums of 2005 and was designated album of the year by many review sites and music magazines. But who trusts critics? Rate Your Music is a community based site which invites people to (who’d have guessed it?) rate their music collection. I knew I would find unbiased advice here and potentially some really hilarious negative reviews from people who aren’t constrained by the niceties of the media. Examples: “Pointless self-indulgent chamber-pop wankery at its worst”, “If I am ever lowered into the depths of hell then this will playing in the elevator on the way down.” and the slightly deranged “if I met this fucker in an alley or something I wouldn't hesitate to beat the motherfucking crap out of him.” Now that’s a review.