Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Kings of Leon Problem

Kings of Leon, why won't you just let me go?  In the past two years you've done everything you possibly can to alienate me, a former huge fan who wants so desperately to believe that you can be better than your current musical aspirations.  Still I cling to the memories of what you once were, despite your repeated demonstrations of mediocrity.  Well, this time we're really finished, and I'm going to share with everyone else how I managed to finally break away from your emotional abuse.

You would think that the shitty albums alone would be sufficient to convince me to turn on Kings of Leon the way I did Weezer.  The difference, I think, is that these guys were teetering dangerously close to being crap even as they put out a record I placed in my top twenty-one of the previous decade.  Because of the Times managed to walk the line between selling out for a bigger, more commercially viable sound and maturing into a more complex and interesting band.  That album is really the whole reason I still hope for better, and it leads me to the first crucial step in the divorcing process:

1.) Torture
Normally I wouldn't advocate torture anywhere but in the world of Jack Bauer, but desperate times and all that.  In order to begin to truly accept how awful this band now is, you must listen to their two most recent albums at least five times each per day.  And I'm not just talking "driving around casual listening;" no, this requires some serious A Clockwork Orange, Room 23 on Lost level shit.  The key to this (other than the general aural horror of it all) is to leave the two or three decent songs in with the rest.  When songs like "Closer" start to feel like they're on the same level as the collected works of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Radiohead, just maybe you'll have a new understanding of how low the Kings of Leon bar has really sunk.

2.) Witness Relocation
Take the first three albums and re-label them as being by U2, then file them accordingly.  This works on several levels.  First, we all know you never listen to U2 anymore, except for the occasional nostalgia trip to Joshua Tree, so they'll be good and safe hiding among Pop and Zooropa and all the other latter-day U2 you wish you'd never purchased.  Second, those Kings of Leon records are a helluva lot better than anything U2 has done in years, so it'll be a pleasant surprise when "Knocked Up" comes out of your speakers.  Lastly, the irony of being relegated to the dregs of the catalogue of the band they so clearly worship/rip off is a delicious one indeed.

3.) Never Watch Them Play!
This sounds obvious, but I'm mostly referring to festival situations.  I know of that which I speak: at this year's Outside Lands, they were the closing act of the weekend, and I decided to go see them.  Sure, Only by the Night was boring and blatantly grasping for mass appeal at the expense of artistic integrity, but hey, they'd been good live before!  So I watched, and of course the diabolical fuckers played many of my old favorites, and really well at that, and I got all wrapped up in nostalgia again.  This was clearly a deliberate tactic aimed at softening me up for the new material they put on display that night.  At the time, I remember thinking songs like "Radioactive" and "Back Down South" sounded like a return to form; when Come Around Sundown came out, I felt ashamed, like I was the faithful wife in a bad country song.  Don't let this happen to you!

4.) Sell Your Soul to Satan
Two can play at this game, Kings of Leon!

5.) Stare Incessantly at the Photo Above
I mean, seriously?

6.) Go Back in Time to Alter History
Forget the Butterfly Effect--any potential alternate future will be better for all of humanity, even if it's like the Jeremy Irons part of The Time Machine.

7.) Join a Monastery in Laos
If all else fails, the only option left is to place yourself as far from their sphere of influence as possible.  This means that North America and Europe are out, since both continents seem to be completely under Kings of Leon's spell.  And no, this will not contradict with Step 4; think of it as hedging your bets.

I've done all that I can do for you, but I hope, if nothing else, reading the pain of someone going through a similar ordeal brings you some small measure of peace.  Good luck, and Godspeed.

Note: Author cannot confirm having actually gone through each of these steps


Tom said...

Ah, the bar, it has been set. You get a big fat "A" for acerbic from me (not that this should be a surprise).

I was thinking #5 from the beginning, by the way.

Although, I hardly think #7 is necessary. I've barely heard of this band and I have no idea if I've ever heard any of their songs.

Hatfield said...

Fair enough, but it also stands to reason that people who were once fans and are now struggling to escape the near ubiquity of these hacks would be in environments where there existed said ubiquity.

Dan O. said...

Who do you hate more? Coldplay or the Kings of Leon?

Hatfield said...

I guess that would have to be Kings of Leon. On the whole, I dislike Coldplay's music more, but they went from being something I hated to releasing an album I actually quite enjoy. Kings of Leon, however, betrayed my trust, becoming not much better than Coldplay when they could have been really good, thus earning my hate much more.