Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Jump that shark
I love the term Jump the Shark. For anyone who has been living under a rock in the middle of a highway for the last 40 years, it is essentially when something in popular culture that becomes a parody of it's former self at a specific point in time. Or as Wikipedia describes it "first employed to describe a moment in the evolution of a television show, characterized by absurdity, when a particular show abandons its core premises and begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery." I love that Fonzie jumped a shark in Happy Days because it's probably the most interesting thing that happened in a show featuring a character named Potsie. So today, I thought I'd list when I believe a bunch of well known artists/bands jumped the shark.
AC/DC: Casual listeners might think that AC/DC jumped the shark when Bon Scott died and he was replaced by Brian Johnson. However, AC/DC jumped the shark on the For Those About To Rock album. The reason for this is that this album features one good song (the title track) and then nine cringe inducing, innuendo laden boogie by rote numbers. This is the pattern for all their future releases – 1 or 2 good songs and a lot of crap. Obviously, For Those About To Rock was an ironic title.
The Beatles: As the late, great Bill Hicks once said, "the Beatles were so high they even let Ringo sing a couple of tunes.” One minute I’m listening to the greatest band on earth and the next minute I’m wondering if the Fat Controller is going to tell Thomas off for being late again.
Bjork: Inuit throat singing.
Coldplay: By existing.
The Cult: The Cult jumped the shark when two blokes from Northern England decided to pretend they were Native Americans…
The Cure: Every self respecting Cure fan hates Friday I’m in Love (I have no self respect so I like it) because it’s the point where Robert Smith went from miserable bastard to playful dandy. This song resulted in a lot of runny eyeliner and bad Goth poetry.
David Bowie: Sure he wrote China Girl with Iggy Pop for The Idiot album but isn’t it a bullshit move to re-record it and make a better version than Iggy’s? Dude, that’s not cool. Let’s Dance was Bowie’s last great album and I had to spend the next twenty years saying “I hear that new Bowie album is a total return to form.” I was wrong – every time.
Godspeed! You Black Emperor: They jumped the shark when they didn’t release another album. Also, does Obama make their name redundant? Just saying.
Guns N’ Roses: For releasing any album that isn’t Appetite for Destruction.
Metallica: Some people think Hetfield cutting his mullet around the time of the Load album was the shark jump for these guys but I’m not convinced. That album did feature a song about Hetfield’s Mum but it felt like a natural progression from the Black album. I think it was the Reload album which was the real venture into shark territory. One good song and a whole bunch of filler which inevitably led to a double album of covers, an album with a symphony orchestra (really?) and their career low St Anger. Good thing they got a taste for shark meat and caved into fan demands to make an old man version of Master of Puppets on Death Magnetic.
Nine Inch Nails: You get a real sense of Trent’s potential to win an Oscar by his song for the Tomb Raider soundtrack. What is this shit?
Oasis: The very obvious shark jump was the release of the 7:42 second D’You Know What I Mean? as their first single off Be Here Now. Even Noel concedes that was ridiculous and he was totally high at the time. The strangest thing about this song is that the lyrics are absolutely nonsensical making the question posed in the chorus even more perplexing.
Radiohead: Thanks for the new EP. That Thom Yorke is a dancin’ fool yo.
The Rolling Stones: There are many things I could point to but Mick’s substance enhanced aerobics performance in the Start Me Up video marks a big swan dive across the shark pool.
Steve Albini: He jumped the shark as soon as he started using a four track. What a sell out.
Sonic Youth: Jump it? They are the shark.
U2: Many people argue that U2 jumped the shark with either with Rattle and Hum or Pop. They are wrong. From the high of Achtung Baby, they released a shiny turd called Zooroopa not long after. Apart from only having two good songs (Stay and the one about Bukowski), Bono decided to embrace his more theatrical side. It kind of worked on Achtung Baby because the whole Fly concept was essentially stolen off Clint Mansell from Pop Will Eat Itself. But on Zooroopa, he embraced McPhisto: part-devil, part showman and 100% total high school drama class fuckery. I saw them on that tour and it looked like Larry was doing everything within his power not to dive across his kit and punch Bono in the face… or maybe he always looks like that.