10 Most Disappointing Albums of 2012
Published Dec 19, 2012For those of you who don't shut off your computer in an act of rage or careful self control, list season is one that can get emotions high as many debate over which order the same 20 to 30 albums should be arranged in. Well, in your fragile state you might be a little frustrated with this: our list of the 10 most disappointing albums of 2012. But before you ruin your keyboard with salty tears as you clack away a vitriolic response, remember that "disappointing" doesn't necessarily mean anything other than just that. These albums aren't all bad, nor are they even close to the worst albums of the year. They're just letdowns from people who we expected so much more from.
10 Most Disappointing Albums of 2012:
Just to Feel Anything
Whether or not its a good album will be a point of contention argued passionately by synth nerds across the globe, but there's no denying that it was a major disappointment for at least half of the A/V club members out there. That's because, after the career-making synth epic of 2010's Does It Look Like I'm Here?, the group decided to add drums, crank up the cheese and move into some dubiously corny '90s sounds. There are some undoubtedly quality moments on this album, and no one's arguing whether it's a well-crafted record. But it's a well-crafted album that flirts dangerously close to feathered-mullet prog territory, an understandable bummer for some.
9. Ben Folds Five
The Sound of the Life of the Mind
For those of us who once rocked ironic ringer T's and horn-rimmed glasses, the announcement of a new album from Ben Folds Five — their first in 13 years, no less — was a cautiously optimistic prospect. After all, aside from some fruitful Weird Al hangouts and some solid turns on Rockin' the Suburbs, Folds' post-Five material was some of the most forgettable on the Starbucks CD rack. And, sure, The Sound of the Life of the Mind did deliver the signature plinking piano keys, fuzz bass and often humourous lyrics, but it also felt as if the Ben Folds Five were simply doing their best Ben Folds Five impression. In other words, they didn't offer anything that you couldn't already find in a half-assed afternoon on Rdio.
Somethin 'Bout Kreay
Skeptics rightly saw this flop coming from a mile away, but that doesn't mean we couldn't be at least a little disappointed. After all, Chief Keef's Finally Rich proved that you can take one viral hit and spin it into a listenable, if limited, major-label debut. With Bay Area mainstay Kreayshawn, however, nothing panned out the way it should have. In 2011, she dropped the accidental mega-hit "Gucci Gucci" via YouTube and quickly signed on with Columbia for what would become Somethin 'Bout Kreay. Roping in the likes of 2 Chainz and Diplo, the album could've been huge, but came out a flop thanks to its lack of direction or even passion. It's a weird thing to admit, but perhaps more major-label tinkering would've helped. After all, X Factor UK lab creation Cher Lloyd released a much more fun brat-rap album in the boardroom-designed Sticks + Stones.
7. Green Day
iUno!, iDos! and iTre!
These three albums aren't disappointing because we had high hopes for them. They're more disappointing in the way that your mom's not mad, just disappointed, when you forget her birthday or kill her plants while she's on vacation. From the story surrounding them that includes Billie Joe Armstrong's pre-rehab anti-Bieber rant (oh, that's right, Billie, you were on The Voice, while he was on The X Factor.... totally different things) to some embarrassingly corny political lyrics to the fact that there's three fucking albums, there was simply too much bad to go with what little good the band may have produced. It's fitting that Billie also made a cameo in Judd Apatow's This Is 40, because these albums double as physical documentation of some punk dads going through their midlife crises.
6. Best Coast
The Only Place
Depending on who you ask, Bethany Cosentino's school-yard rhyme schemes and borrowed lo-fi aesthetic can come off as immensely manufactured. Crazy for You, 2010's diary-entry set to rudimentary music, felt like a mistaken winner. Then, she signed up with Jon Brion, an endlessly quirky Wes Anderson of sound who could have theoretically added some depth to the whole thing. Instead, it was even more dull. Without the scratchy lo-fi, we're just left with SUV-ready versions of the same bland beach songs.
5. Justin Bieber
We just can't wait to see your comments about how Justin Bieber isn't real music or whatever, but we all know full well that larger than life pop stars can be fun as fuck. From Michael Jackson to Justin Timberlake, the massive superstars who pack arenas often create some jaw-dropping material if they let the right people into their studios. Justin Bieber could have been next, had he taken some risks. After all, even his mentor Usher happened upon one of the year's most nuanced and fragile pop singles in "Climax." Instead, the Biebs pounded out another batch of lukewarm radio singles that gently flirted with acoustic pop for people who wear fedoras, awkward collaborations with Nicki Minaj and Big Sean, and a whole bunch of mediocre filler. Sure, he's still printing money and, let's be honest, likely swiping a shit ton of V-cards, but Bieber is simply not the genre-redefining pop star he should be. Sucks, too, because we want to believe.
4. Sleigh Bells
Reign of Terror
(Mom + Pop)
When Sleigh Bells blew up MySpace with their redlining demo, everyone was shocked that it worked. How could the dude from whiny emotional hardcore leftovers Poison the Well and a singer with a seemingly endless supply of American Apparel hoodie colours come up with something so damn listenable? Their debut album, Treats, continued the good will, offering up the same crisp, dancefloor-ready metal bangers that made this duo feel unstoppable. By the time Reign of Terror hit, however, their formula was starting to crack. A mess of forced, whining melodies and annoyingly pushy guitar parts. Listening to Sleigh Bells once felt like partying in a stadium, but now you're trapped in the band's practice space while they force you to check out their boring, mountainous pile of pedalboards.
3. Bloc Party
(Frenchkiss/Art & Crafts)
Maybe Bloc Party thought that if they stuck to the same formula they could return after a four-year break, pretend they never broke up and — bam! — they get placement in all the new sports videogames, sell out tours and reunite with their beloved fan base (presumably heavy on balding graphic designers). Trouble is, a lot has happened with guitar music since Bloc Party took their little break, with many bands pushing the six-stringer to the back or removing it completely. And for unhinged post-punk, fans could find leaner and meaner groups in Peace, Iceage or Merchandise. The problem wasn't just how the public received Four, however. It was that Bloc Party phoned it in, and we saw right through them.
2. Animal Collective
Sometimes the biggest disappointment comes when a once spectacular band are merely okay. It's pretty tough to discern what, exactly, is wrong with Animal Collective's Centipede Hz, but there's no denying that the album didn't hit like it should have. After over a decade of blowing minds, and a mid-2000s hot streak that started with 2004's Sung Tongs and arguably peaked with 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion, Centipede Hz sounds disorganized, disorienting and dense in all the wrong ways. They've likely got another winner in them, too, which is why Centipede hurts that much more.
1. G.O.O.D. Music
(G.O.O.D. Music / Def Jam)
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy solidified Kanye West's place as a creative genius, proving so much of his enormous ego right. He kept us hanging on with Watch the Throne, too, despite letting Jay-Z rap him into the ground. Actually, maybe we're reading into it too much, but that could be a solid explanation for why he's built a full stable of mediocre rappers, from Big Sean's American Eagle employee smoothness to forgettable-as-fuck turns from Cyhi the Prynce, D'banj and Malik Yusef. Sure, there's no denying that R. Kelly, Ghostface Killah and Ma$e offer up some transcendent guest spots, but that's expected from three class clowns. The real sign of a stinker is when someone as excruciating as Kid Cudi offers one of the more memorable moments. Also, no more "Don't Like" remixes, ever. Sorry, Kanye, but we're fucking with your clique.