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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Milwaukee's Least Wanted CDs

So I haven't posted in a while. If anybody is still reading this blog, I apologize. But since I've been contributing regularly to The A.V. Club newswire, my blogging energies have been pretty much sapped. I was going to post my top 10 (actually 15) here, but The A.V. Club is taking that, too. They let all the city editors vote for The Onion's Top 25 (running in print next week and online by Monday or Tuesday, I would guess) and are posting individual lists online. As a reader of The AV Club's year-end best-of lists going back to college, this is obviously really cool for me to be involved with. Anyway, I shouldn't reveal my list until then, but I'll say this: My No. 1 made The Onion's top five (I got to write the entry, too.). The Onion's No. 1 won't come as any big surprise to loyal readers of rock crit (it made No. 8 on my list), but overall I think the list is pretty comprehensive.

Anyway ... I wanted to post a story here that ran in Milwaukee a week ago. It's an idea I stole from Tom Roz. Hope you like it, even if you don't live in Milwaukee. (I'm guessing these CDs are unwated in most places.)

Milwaukee’s Least Wanted CDs

Used CD stores are where unwanted albums go to die. Every passing trend in recent pop music history—heavy metal power balladry, ska, rap-rock, swing revival, mopey British pop-rock—is displayed on the overstuffed racks like a rock ‘n’ roll hall of shame. The A.V. Club recently scoured Milwaukee-area used CD stores in search of the city’s least wanted albums. You can find multiple copies of the following discs in almost every store, so don’t try selling your copy any time soon.

5. A Rush Of Blood To The Head and X&Y (tie) by Coldplay
Coldplay is a wimpy band, but it used to be wimpy band you could secretly enjoy. A Rush Of Blood To The Head didn’t claim to be anything more than a soundtrack for lovelorn lads mournfully staring out rain-streaked windows; it was a private pleasure you never spoke of. With X&Y, Coldplay became a household name, thus outing Coldplay fans from the crybaby closet. Not only did X&Y (which isn’t that great, anyway) have to go, so did A Rush Of Blood To The Head. Selling your Coldplay albums is like saying, “Hey, I’m just waiting for the right gal to show me how it’s done!” But make no mistake: The next time it rains, you will yearn for the rugged embrace of “The Scientist.”

4. Devil Without A Cause and The History Of Rock (tie) by Kid Rock
Kid Rock once boasted that all of his heroes were at the methadone clinic, but his career trajectory suggests his real addiction was sugary pop. A monumental jackass in a scene with more than its fair share, Kid Rock exploited the rap-rock trend with records like Devil Without A Cause and the best-of compilation The History Of Rock (featuring the truly assy previously unreleased song, “American Bad Ass”). When rap-rock finally fizzled, Rock revealed his mercenary pop instincts by refashioning himself as a country balladeer and classic rocker. But the damage was done; in 2006, Kid Rock is to fellow Detroit natives The White Stripes what Cherry Pie was to Nevermind.

3. Forever Your Girl by Paula Abdul
Before she was the batshit-crazy lady sitting between Randy and Simon on American Idol, Paula Abdul was a pop idol herself, romanced by a long line of celebrity suitors that included Arsenio Hall, Emilio Estevez, and, most infamously, MC Skat Kat. (They argued about money, smoking, and stealing the bed covers, among other subjects.) Abdul’s 1989 debut Forever Your Girl was by far her most popular album, spawning chirpy dance pop hits like “Straight Up,” “Opposites Attract,” and the title track. Since it’s the one Abdul CD everybody bought, it’s also the one Abdul CD everybody sold once high school rolled around.

2. The Bridge by Ace Of Base
Only the most uppity music snob could deny the cheesy pleasures of early ’90s Ace Of Base hits like “All That She Wants,” “Don’t Turn Around,” and “The Sign,” which are as catchy as anything by fellow Swedish popsters ABBA. (The catchiness of the songs comes from sharing the same discoified reggae beat, resulting in a you-know-one-you-know-’em-all quality that still comes in handy at wedding receptions.) Every noteworthy Ace Of Base hit is available on 1993’s The Sign (or separately on iTunes), rendering the relatively hit-free 1995 follow-up The Bridge as worthless as meaningful lyrics in a Euro-pop song.

1. Extreme II: Pornograffitti by Extreme
The second album by Boston-based second-tier metal band Extreme (led by future Van Halen singer/wrecker Gary Cherone) was a serious-minded concept piece about a young boy named Francis making his way through a decadent society. Songs dealt with issues such as materialism (“Decadence Dance”), political corruption (“When I’m President”), and promiscuity (“L’il Jack Horny”). But most people bought this record based on two huge hit singles from 1991, “More Than Words” and “Hole Hearted.” (Where these songs fit in the overall concept of Pornograffitti is unclear; perhaps Francis was in danger of becoming a big pussy.) These acoustic pop diddies were hardly representative of the album, causing 14-year-old girls from Cudahy to Whitefish Bay to dump their copies of Pornograffitti like radioactive waste. With any luck, the CDs will decay in 100 million years.