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Ranking of Albummers! Part 3

Yes, I bought this and had it shipped to me from a St. Louis-area Goodwill store for $5. Spoiler: I hate my dirty basement carpet more than I hated this album.
Yes, I bought this and had it shipped to me from a St. Louis-area Goodwill store for $5. Spoiler: I hate my dirty basement carpet more than I hated this album.

Last year, I made an ironclad commitment in a blog post to rank the Albummers every 13 albums. In March, I made good on that promise, thinking it might be the last time I fulfill it. Fortunately, I turned out to be wrong, and I've received enough ear poison the last few months to kill the king of Denmark as a result. This time, I've upped the commitment level by purchasing music in order to listen along, as well as (gasp) re-ranking some of the previous entries. As with last time, I'm forgoing the thumbnail images for album covers (to avoid crashing the blog before I can save it), and I'm limiting my commentary on albums covered in part one and part two to reordering and reexamination blurbs. I hope this show continues to the point where even a simple text list crashes the draft, because I am not yet even close to sated. However, the albums and episodes covering them are the highlight of my week, and I'm grateful the crew has pumped them out weekly with only one break for nearly a year now.

1. Metallica, Metallica

2. Jugulator, Judas Priest

3. Attila, Attila

When I listened to Kevin Federline’s “Playing with Fire”, I experienced a disconnect with music critics who said it was one of the worst albums of all time. That feeling now pales in comparison to what I felt during this album, dubbed the “worst rock album of all time” by some (presumably older) critics. Truthfully, I don’t even know how they arrived at that conclusion, because Attila is legitimately good. Sure, it can be a chaotic mess at times (such as moments in “California Flash”), but that rawness is part of its appeal. Billy Joel is such a known commodity, with an enormous body of work of consistent polish and varying quality, so hearing him stretch his legs as a young musician is a great treat. The organ and drums of “Amplifier Fire (Part I: Godzilla)” are highly entertaining and skillful, and the full song gives me new appreciation for a musician that I’m admittedly very tired of. Honestly, the only track I didn’t enjoy on the album was “Tear This Castle Down”, and that was mostly because Joel and his friend threw way too much stuff at the wall at once to see if any of it stuck. At any rate, I can’t understand anyone walking out of the club while Attila played, because the 40 minutes as a whole were mesmerizing. I would voluntarily listen to this entire album again, which is probably the highest compliment you’re going to read from me for the rest of this post.

4. Be A Man, "Macho Man" Randy Savage

5. Still Sucks, Limp Bizkit

6. Songs of Innocence, U2

7. Shaq Diesel, Shaquille O'Neal

8. Greatest Hits, Chris Gaines

As desperately as I’d like to factor in the utterly bizarre origins of this album to these rankings, I remain as ever committed to judging them by their musical content only. And let me just say that this album being “fine” is the weirdest possible outcome. Aside from being miffed on behalf of the Wallflowers that “Unsigned Letter” is the most blatant ripoff of “One Headlight” that I’ve ever heard, nothing on this album surprised me in a bad way. Clearly Garth Brooks’ writing team keeps up on contemporary pop trends, because just about every song sounds like an industry standard sometime between 1997 and 2003; thus in some ways, it’s actually ahead of its time in places. Of course, if the idea was to develop a radically different sound as some sort of creative experiment, Garth and co. failed miserably. “It Don’t Matter to the Sun” could easily top country charts, and the true unfamiliarity with funky beats gives “Way of the Girl” an edge that I don’t think the musicians intended. With a pretty consistent sound throughout the 13 tracks, it’s almost disappointing to see such a lack of commitment to the conceit of capturing an artist’s discography spanning multiple decades. In any case, I’ll always have this strange relic sitting alongside my other CDs.

It contained an alternate cover on the inside in case you were terrified people might judge your CD collection (or more likely, not buy it in resale).
It contained an alternate cover on the inside in case you were terrified people might judge your CD collection (or more likely, not buy it in resale).

Let me know if you want to see more album booklet screenshots. The "cover" to Triangle is hilarious.

9. Deliver Us from Evil, Kryst the Conqueror

Sometimes, an album leaves me with relatively little to say about it. Often it’s because I don’t have the full context for the musicians performing the tracks (which is the case here) or a strong enough background in the genre (less so). I almost wish I could split Deliver Us from Evil into separate collections of songs, and even portions of those songs, for the purposes of this ranking. I found myself jamming out at times, laughing at its absurdity at others, and even gasping at the implications of the “Wherever I Roam” track. When you listen to nearly 40 “bummer” albums over the course of roughly as many weeks, it’s easy to become desensitized to dreck. With such an uneven album, it’s hard not to give the band a perhaps-overly generous standing for making me pay attention track after track. I enjoyed parts of this album, hated others, and always awaited the next track with something resembling eager anticipation. That’s kind of a win, right?

10. 44/876, Sting & Shaggy

11. Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy

Ask a boomer for their opinion on the worst music ever made, and at some point they’ll probably at least mention Leonard Nimoy’s discography. But here in the year 2022, more than 50 years after Mr. Spock’s half dozen-or-so albums, it’s worth a critical re-examination. The conclusion I’ve reached is that it certainly isn’t good music, but it’s so light and goofy that being good or bad is beside the point. It feels like a poorly executed version of Shaq Diesel, where an entertaining star of a different medium stretches their legs in music to chase a dream. Sure, I wish Nimoy could carry a tune, but I have absolutely no problem with him singing about Bilbo Baggins in ways that don’t sound factually accurate to the books (and which I’m far too lazy to fact-check). I’ve chalked up some of the content of this album to being from the 60’s and earlier, but I still don’t like hearing Nimoy-as-Spock base a verse around “women be complaining” and asking if a woman still wants him to put a baby in her. But with only a single writing credit out of 13 tracks, it’s tough to put that on him too. I wish today’s stars (or at least more than Jeremy Renner) would take a page from the original Star Trek and make their own ill-advised concept albums. The cost of living has increased dramatically since the 70’s, but our vanity project music has basically stayed the same. Something’s gotta give.

12. The Return of Bruno, Bruce Willis

Bruce gets the first bump in the revised rankings, albeit by a single spot. I just fondly remembered "Youngblood" the other day, that's all.

13. Father of All Motherfuckers, Green Day

14. Loud Rocks, Various Artists

So it’s come to this: another compilation album covering hip-hop songs. Unlike the terrible Too Legit for the Pit, at least each artist had some discernible level of enthusiasm for the music being played. Some of the choices were… bizarre, to say the least (hi, Incubus), but others sounded downright acceptable. I confess to having relatively little knowledge of the Loud artist discography, including Wu-Tang Clan, so I can’t speak to what sacred cows are or aren’t being slaughtered here. Even if the covers pale in comparison to the originals, there is at least a throughline of competence, which is more than I can say for other compilation albums. Probably the biggest bummer for me personally came from the first track, as Serj Tankian shouts the n-word a lot, and that’s not really something I needed embedded in my memory. While the album is fun, it lacks the cohesion of albums ranked above it, and so it lands in a spot between the albums I legitimately enjoy and the ones that are just fine. I’d say given the star power present in this album, that could be considered a letdown, I guess.

15. Cyberpunk, Billy Idol

16. Rebirth, Lil Wayne

17. The Tears of Hercules, Rod Stewart

Like Rod Stewart, I have a dead dad. Unlike Rod Stewart, I didn’t tell you I’m desperately horny for 40 minutes before getting to that bit of information. I mentioned in my last ranking that I felt a huge disconnect between the thematic elements of Shaq Diesel with its actual recording, in that I wanted to like it more than I did. With this album, I desperately wanted to rank this lyrical sludge in the Feldman Zone, but the performances and hooks made that impossible. From the generational predation of “One More Time” to the retiree rock of “All My Days” to the… whatever the hell “Kookooaramabama” is, Rod Stewart’s raspy cooing made my stomach turn in many ways. However, the man can write a dang song, and it was even pleasant to listen to at times. Despite the absolutely nonsensical attempts at metaphor in the title track, I thought it was actually a nice song overall. While I don’t want to ever listen to a song from this album ever again, I wouldn’t mind if it were played over the grocery store sound system.

18. The Philosophy of the World, The Shaggs

19. Mainstream Sellout, Machine Gun Kelly

Separating the art from the artist invariably ends up being a theme on my writeups. In the case of this album, it meant ignoring the fact that this was the smirkingest collection of faces on any LP I’ve listened to in a long, long while. I also needed to get past my indifference (and at times, hostility) to the Blink-182 discography, since half of this album sounded like b-sides from their 2003 self-titled disc. So what was left over after all that? A perfectly fine pop-punk record with a few dud songs; I would dearly like to never hear “make up sex” or “papercuts” again. My biggest complaint is the album’s lack of fun on many of its tracks. There was a playfulness to “ay!” that made it a true standout, one that’s been stuck in my head in a good way since hearing it for the first time. It’s probably not a coincidence that Lil’ Wayne (author of a better rock pivot album) is featured on it. Overall, Mainstream Sellout sits one spot away from the exact middle of my total rankings. It feels appropriate for a work that hit neither the highs or lows of the music covered by this show.

20. Van Weezer, Weezer

Weezer would have been #16 on this list without the re-ranking. For a band so desperately mid, the exact center of this list just feels more correct.

21. Playing with Fire, Kevin Federline

22. Bang! Pow! Boom!, Insane Clown Posse

While I’m not familiar with their entire body of work, the Insane Clown Posse is nothing if not reliable. You paid for a specific thing, and they are going to deliver on that thing. In general, I find the Juggalos an interesting (and misunderstood) community, and ICP does a solid job serving that community year in and year out. All that being said, there has to be a better way to spend 75 minutes of your life than listening to Bang! Pow! Boom!, an album that is not only crammed to the gills with skits, but also advertises itself given even the flimsiest pretext to do so. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be so bad, but I’m aware of three alternate collector’s versions of the album, so it feels like milking a loyal fanbase. I’ve been intimately familiar with “Miracles” for over a decade thanks to its silly music video and comical lyrics, but it’s one of the least provocative parts of the album. This includes highs (“The Bone” is a legitimately good song that has a ton of fun with itself), as well as cavernous lows (the misogyny, which is bad even for the genre). Each song is more or less just what you expect, never blowing away your expectations or falling short of them. The theme of a given song is clear from the outset, and nothing about the music or lyrics really evolves as the runtime increases. For this reason, it was more like getting stuck in traffic than it was being involved in a wreck. I wanted to feel more strongly in either direction about this album, but in the end it’s fairly middling. That seems to fit what the cult of ICP actually is: not as vicious as their reputation among squares, and not as lovable as their reputation among outsiders.

23. Youth Authority, Good Charlotte

24. 1000hp, Godsmack

Look, I know all Butt Rock is for divorced dads, but this album is clearly made for extremely divorced dads. I swear I’ll make one of these posts without trashing Metallica’s Load and Reload, but this sounds like a dimestore version of the album tracks from those two records. In fact, some of the songs even seem directly lifted from prominent Metallica hits; I swear the drums in “Turning to Stone” are identical to the opening and closing part of “Enter Sandman”. The album as a whole is aggressively mediocre, which I guess makes it better than the aforementioned Metallica stinkers when you manage your expectations for both bands. Lastly, I can’t verify this thanks to a lack of notes about the songs on Genius, but I’m pretty sure “Locked and Loaded” is about them being really mad about the idea of a veteran being anti-war and accusing them of stolen valor. Does this make Godsmack the original creators of Inventing A Guy To Get Mad At? Probably not, but that won’t stop me from thinking it.

25. Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven, Kid Cudi

26. Origins, Imagine Dragons

Aside from “Radioactive” and “Thunder”, I’ve managed to make it to 2022 almost entirely avoiding listening to Imagine Dragons. This was no active impulse; it was just clear from their first single that it wouldn’t be a band I’d be into. So more than a decade passed where I wasn’t entirely sure what Imagine Dragons’ “sound” was. After listening to this album… I’m still not sure what that is, but now I know that I don’t like it. Is the band even sure what its sound is? I heard attempts in the first half to sound like store-brand versions of Foals and Foo Fighters inside some of the tracks, and all the singles sound like they had too many cooks in the studio. Being older than 25, pop music is clearly not targeted for me, but each song was far too busy with random noises and instrumental flourishes. During the song “Bad Liar”, I thought I heard my cat beginning to vomit. The second half of the album features some really bizarre choices that didn’t work at all for me, but at least they were going for something different. The worst parts of the album by far are the lead singer’s yawping, which was painful to listen to each and every time (especially on “Bullet in a Gun” and “Digital”). Lastly, I want to note how much I enjoyed the music video for “Zero”, if only for the fake gamertags and giant head-people.

27. Taste of Christmas, Various Artists

28. Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You, Joe Pesci

I shared this album with friends, and it may have increased my appreciation for it as a result. Before changing its position, it would have been #33 at best, which is simply too low.

29. Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits, Crazy Frog

30. Kidz Bop 3, The Kidz Bop Singers

I was torn whether to even rank this album. Kidz Bop is such low-hanging fruit that even rank amateurs in the field of musical self-harm can correctly list it as trash music. However, I relented based on two factors: first, there are 30 songs on the album, which is absolutely unconscionable. Second, there is a distinct texture to the covers that’s worth talking about. On this latter point, you can really tell how much effort was put into a given cover, and which songs the Kidz Bop producers felt really passionate about. For example, you could tell they really loved that Celine Dion song, even bothering to find a passable vocal mimic for the lead part. On the flip side, it’s often difficult to figure out whether they just wanted to bang out as many covers as possible in limited recording time, or if the cover artists they selected were just extremely out of their depth. Perhaps it’s a bit of both, if the abysmal “Heaven” and “Wasting My Time” covers are any indication. Regardless, it’s a dire slog of an album, and listening to it made me wonder if a warrant for my arrest was being drafted as I neared the end. At least the producers didn’t make the kids use the n-word, although you know they were considering it.

31. Too Legit for the Pit, Various Artists

I'm beginning to think this Various Artists band might just be really bad.

32. Believers Never Die Volume Two, Fall Out Boy

33. Rock'n Roll Gangster, Fieldy's Dreams

A quick swap with Corey Feldman after listening to "Lovin' Lies" from Angelic 2 the Core again.

34. LuLu, Metallica & Lou Reed

This is the third Metallica album I’ve been forced (well, “forced”) to write about in the context of this show, and each one has involved the band trying to change their sound in a significant way. Unlike the other two, this album was always intended as a one-off collaboration. I’m definitely no Lou Reed expert, but I’ve seen a wide variety of opinions on him. I can’t tell if he’s secretly brilliant or just asinine masquerading as secretly brilliant, but I can say he did himself absolutely no favors collaborating with the notorious Dumb Guys in Metallica. When James Hetfield’s middle-aged mewling of “I am the table” doesn’t sound out of place with Reed’s vocals, it sure starts to feel like this album is completely nonsensical. I appreciate Metallica taking a big risk on making this and then releasing it for public consumption, even if I think the album sounds like shit. It compares (marginally) favorably to St. Anger, which felt much safer coming off of their 90’s output but made even worse decisions. If you’re going to strike out, you might as well swing for the fences rather than bunt it down the wrong side of the baseline.

35. Angelic 2 the Core, Corey Feldman

Fuck, I just realized the "Core" is Corey. I'm so dumb.

36. St. Anger, Metallica

37. Danzig Sings Elvis, Danzig

38. Around the World with The Chipmunks, Alvin and the Chipmunks

Knowing full well how poorly a lot of media from 1960 maps to modern sensibilities, it’s still pretty incredible how terribly this album has aged. Since the only comparison on this list lies with the Minions, it’s impossible not to see Alvin and company as their horny, racist progenitors. The Chipmunks sing about making girls their slaves, insulting Hawaiians, and worst of all: subjecting the listener to skits in every track. It’s never a treat to listen to Dave Seville and his three dipshit sons blunder through any song more than once, and twelve consecutive tracks is bad enough on its own merits. When those songs also happen to be dreck musically, lyrically, and pacing…ly, it becomes borderline intolerable. Even the “best” track, “Spain”, has to end with an abysmal impression of a Spaniard. When I wrote about the Minions last time, it at least made me feel something. By the time I got to the final track of this album, I was just tired. Living in a country where a purple-faced vocal minority holding disproportionate political influence is desperate to regress into the 1950’s, Alvin and friends don’t feel much like a hilarious curiosity from a bygone era anymore. Maybe I’m reading into it too much, and this is just a lonely man trotting the globe with his three mutant offspring, each of whom is desperate to push their tongue down a human woman’s throat. All that being said, how is this better than the Minions? As the crew pointed out, there are some genuinely funny jokes in the middle of this shit sandwich, and those moments kept me going. However, I would prefer not to listen to anything like this ever again.

Ah who am I kidding, I need stuff like this all the time to soothe my sick brain.

39. Funny Minions: TV and Movie Theme Remixes, Funny Minions Guys

Not only is this album still up on iTunes, but there are now 8 total albums released in 2022 alone. We have, in addition to the original released on January 19th:

  • Volume 2 of the mainline series (Feb. 2, 2022)
  • Nursery Rhymes Kids Songs: Minions Edition (Feb. 3, 2022)
  • Volume 3 of the mainline series (Feb. 18, 2022)
  • Funny Minions: Top Hit Covers (Remixes) (Feb. 28, 2022)
  • Volume 2 of the nursery rhymes spinoff (Mar. 23, 2022)
  • Volume 3 of the nursery rhymes spinoff (Apr. 1, 2022)
  • Volume 2 of the top hit covers spinoff (Apr. 27, 2022)

This is truly the music of hope, joy, and optimism.

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