Norrin Radd used to have a pretty shitty job. As the Silver Surfer, Radd was given a portion of the Power Cosmic by Galactus in exchange for acting as his herald. As the Herald of Galactus, the Surfer would find planets for his master to devour. He would arrive at a potential candidate and inform the inhabitants they would shortly be consumed. He would, in effect, warn people of their own impending doom.
Thus, we come to me. I am here today with a warning of our own impending (cultural) doom. It may not consume all of earth, or even all of the United States, but it’s still worth being afraid of.
There’s a new music trend going around (like a virus) and it’s called “screamo-crunk.” Yeah, screamo-crunk. And it’s exactly what it sounds like: screamo vocals put to crunk music. To fully wrap your head around this — and, believe me, it takes a bottle of aspirin and a nap — imagine the horrifying combination of Senses Fail and Lil Jon and you’re pretty close to this random sub-sub-genre. A variant description by John McDonnell of Guardian music blog that also comes close reads thusly: “A Chamillionaire track performed by a teenage Slipknot tribute band.” That was used to describe one screamo-crunk artist in particular, but it works as an overarching portrayal.
You might argue because it doesn’t have a Wikipedia article (at time of this publication), it doesn’t matter. Wrong. This is the kind of trend in pop culture that not only grows at such an exponential rate even Stephen Hawking would worry, but it is also is one that hangs around like a public bathroom stench. Case in point: Revolver Magazine, a respected metal publication, recently published a story on the “screamo-crunk explosion.” There’s just no other way to say it: This is bullshit. The anti-anti-trendiness of it, the music, everything — it’s all bullshit.
At this point, the virus has just started to infect us. First the opening symptoms arrive: terrestrial radio airplay, music videos and debut albums cracking the Billboard 200. It’s all downhill from there.
Then come the secondary symptoms including (sigh) endorsements. You might wonder what companies or brands would be dumb enough to support this. Well, Crunk Energy Drink — yes, Lil Jon helped create it — sponsors BrokeNCYDE, for one. I don’t know what their name means or why it’s typeset like that. But, really, it just doesn’t make any difference because the group is atrocious despite its dumbass name.
BrokeNCYDE and Breathe Carolina are just two bands at the forefront of the movement. Carolina is more of an urban pop/screamo hybrid, but that doesn’t make them any better. But, since I don’t have the space to tear all of these bands apart, I shall use one to illustrate why a cure must be found for this outbreak immediately.
Hollywood Undead is the most famous band of this musical genre and, therefore, the worst of them all. They’re a sextet hailing from Los Angeles (of course) that got its start through MySpace, becoming No. 1 on the site’s music chart. As if that’s a surprise. I can’t honestly from a description of the band as a whole without giving myself a life-ending aneurysm, so I’ll just quote Axl Rosenberg of Metalsucks.net, since he’s probably puts it best: “I’m fairly certain that Hollywood Undead are just the members of Crazy Town with masks on, so they don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of being recognized as the members of Crazy Town.”
Yes, the members of HU wear masks. As their profile on the 2008 Virgin Mobile Festival page explains, “The masks contribute to the band’s mystique.” Further, there’s a quote from band member and “lyrical genius” Charlie Scene: “In order to keep everything a mystery, we didn’t want people to know what we look like.” There are three words missing at the end of his thought: “out of embarrassment.”
But, best of all, the page proudly proclaims that HU’s songs contain lyrics “that would make Slim Shady wince.” Here’s an example of the “intelligent, clever rhymes” that HU offer: “So let’s take some shots, do a beer run and flip off the cops/ Girls give me props and they’re on my jock/ Paris Hilton said ‘That’s hot!’ when she saw my cock.” You’re right: Eminem would wince at that, but only because the lyrics are trashy to an unquantifiable degree. In reality, these guys come off as a bunch of middle school caffeine addicts (is that redundant?) who just discovered “South Park.”
The level of terrible that bands like HU reach is beyond comprehension. Perhaps the source of this comes from the fact HU’s members proudly assert that they don’t care what critics or haters have to say.
Their hit single, “Undead,” addresses the haters: “Fuck those haters I see/ ‘Cause I hate that you breathe/ I see you duck, you little punk, you little fucking disease.” But the most telling lyric is found in the chorus: “You know I don’t give a fuck what you think or say/ ‘Cause we’re gonna rock this whole place anyway.” Normally, it’s a good thing to ignore the opinions of others when creating something, but here, no so much. Simply put, HU’s problem is that its members won’t listen to criticism. If they did, then they’d realize the “haters” are right in questioning their legitimacy as respectable artists.
I don’t know what the next symptom of this virus is. The reality is that I probably don’t want to. I may already be too late. This type of music appeals to the lowest common denominator. It’s philistinism in the purest sense of the term. It’s an instant-instant gratification; there is no catharsis because the songs don’t build to anything or go anywhere. The genre is the most ridiculously genuine example of masturbatory art that exists. It’s self-fulfilling for the sake of being self-fulfilling. It’s the Internet porn of the music industry.
And it needs to be destroyed.
Steve Lampiris graduated in 2008 with a degree in political science. If you like screamo-crunk or you think that he’s overstated his case, don a hazmat suit before e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.