2015 was probably the worst year for entertainment on record. OK, that’s probably not true, but for me personally it was, largely of my own accord. I watched very few films and I can honestly say only one was worth the price of admission. I just didn’t have time for movies last year and I have a lot, A LOT, of catching up to do in that regard as there were apparently a few gems in there.
Most of my time was spent watching television shows, which has increasingly become a justified time sink thanks to all of the great shows out there these days. However, there was even a drop in quality on that front. Some of the shows I’ve watched for awhile got worse and most of the new shows I picked up were a waste of time. Then there’s the crap I indirectly watched via my significant other…ugh…
As for music, I still listened to a ton of new releases and, just like any year really, there were a lot of mediocre to garbage albums in the mix. That’s typical, but combined with a few highly anticipated records that bombed for me, it sounded worse than usual.
Considering I didn’t watch enough to put together a “Best of 2015” article nor even a general “Year in Review” article without excluding important work I missed and leaning heavily on what sucked, I figured instead I’ll just do this “fun” little recap of personally selected missteps from 2015. Enjoy!
American Horror Story: Hotel
After the largely misguided fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show, I wasn’t expecting any good to come out of the new season, especially after casting Lady Gaga in a lead role. I figured that meant even more worthless fucking music than what plagued Freak Show. Thankfully, I was wrong in that respect at least.
I’ve previously said I hated this season of American Horror Story, but upon further reflection it manages to grasp glorious mediocrity. Much like Freak Show, that’s thanks to some really fucking entertaining characters. Where Freak Show had the Tattlers and the Motts, Hotel had James Patrick March, Iris, and Liz. The highlight is Evan Peters’ performance as Mr. March. It’s just as hilariously creepy as that of Finn Wittrock’s Dandy from Freak Show.
Unfortunately, aside from these characters and a few other OK ones, there isn’t much to like. Most of the story elements I couldn’t care less about and unlike previous seasons there really isn’t a central story to be told at all. It’s more or less a collection of side stories that all happen to revolve around the hotel, the central element that they’ve basically substituted for a central plot I suppose. That alone wouldn’t be a big problem if all the stories were good, but they’re not. The vampire stuff sucks, all of it. The addiction stuff is lame. The serial killer thread is wasted and comes off as being completely forgotten about at times.
Like I said, there is some enjoyment here thanks to the characters and their back stories, but for the most part it’s yet another missed opportunity in the franchise.
I had very low expectations going into this one and probably never would have watched it at all if not for the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Amazingly, Terminator Genisys somehow managed to exceed my expectations, only for it to still be no better than mediocre in the end. That’s impressive.
The good and bad starts with the cast. Arnold is still great, Matt Smith is solid during his brief screen time, and Jai Courtney is surprisingly not terrible as Kyle Reese. The Clarkes, however, are garbage. Emilia is by far the worst Sarah Connor to date (not that anyone could do better than Linda Hamilton, with Lena Headey being as close as you could possibly get) and Jason somehow manages to combine the worst aspects of every iteration of John Connor.
As for the plot, oh boy. It actually starts off fairly decent, but eventually devolves into a series of unanswered questions (they planned this as a trilogy from the outset, LOL) with the added bonus of a multiverse spoke in the wheels. The franchise was already fairly convoluted, but come on, multiverses? Fuck off with that shit. Best of all, we’ll never know the point of half the shit in this movie thanks to it bombing and the sequels being cancelled. Great job, Paramount Pictures.
In the grand scheme of things it’s a terrible addition to the franchise, but at least it’s better than Terminator Salvation and as a dumb popcorn action flick it’s not bad.
Outlander Season 1 Part 2
I’m excluding the first half of Season 1 as those 8 episodes aired in 2014. Including those episodes would result in a slightly more favourable opinion of the show, but the eighth episode effectively changes everything for the worse anyway so fuck it.
I wasn’t planning on watching this show, which applies to most of the crap my wife watches, but the talent involved lured me in. Ronald D. Moore, Bear McCreary, John Dahl, Tobias Menzies, etc. Plus it’s set and filmed in Scotland. So yeah, I’m watching it.
Anyway, the good. For one, it’s beautifully shot. Honestly one of the best looking TV shows I’ve seen. Two, the acting performances are really damn good. Everyone pretty much nails their roles. Three, the music is excellent, definitely some of McCreary’s finest work. Four, the heavy use of Scottish Gaelic is a nice touch.
With so much good, what could possibly make the show mediocre? The writing. Period. This show is so God damn boring. Most scenes are overly long, dragged out even more with lingering shots of yearning, and not much happens from episode to episode. They could have easily wrapped this thing up in half the number of episodes, though I suppose that would only make what happens in the second half even worse.
Without getting into it too much, a key point of the first 8 episodes is the personal conflict within Claire (the main character). She’s torn between love for her husband in the present (1945 in the show) and, initially, lust for Jamie in the past (1743). That’s handled fairly well, until episode 8 effectively removes her husband from the picture entirely and the show becomes a rudimentary love story between Claire and Jamie. Oh, and rape. Lots of rape. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (AS A PLOT DEVICE), but if I still don’t care about what happens to a character after he or she has been brutally raped, I probably never will. Hell, the rapist is more entertaining to watch than either of the two leads. I just don’t get the appeal of Claire or Jamie outside of their physical attributes. I’m clearly not the target audience for this show, but given all the good it has going for it, I kinda wish it had more to offer. At times it does (political intrigue, intense battles, and supposed witchcraft), but they’re too few and far between.
State Champs’ Around the World and Back
I’m a fan of their debut album from 2013, The Finer Things, which I described as “fun and fast guitar driven pop punk with catchy hooks and choruses that rarely stray into annoying territory.” Unfortunately that comment largely doesn’t hold true for their new album. There is a noticeable drop in tempo to many of the songs, placing this album closer to that awful faux-emo radio territory. There are definitely more annoying choruses here, case in point the back-to-back crapfest found in “Perfect Score” and “All or Nothing.”
Unlike their first album, there is also a more obvious reach towards stardom. Songs are way more relationship focused and built around Derek DiScanio’s lead vocals. Look no further than the title track for evidence of this, which goes one step further by bringing in another singer, Ansley Newman, to create one of the most stereotypical, unimaginative acoustic ballads you’ll ever hear.
There’s still some good to be found here. “Eyes Closed” and “All You Are Is History” bring the usual face-paced, guitar driven energy I would expect and “Breaking Ground” is a highlight with its catchy chorus, strong guitar/drum interplay, and “whoas.” Sadly, that’s not enough to make the album good.
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
Never saw the movie, but the wife thought this looked interesting based on the cast so we watched the movie first, then the series. The movie was trash aside from that one going into town sequence and Christopher Meloni as Gene. How the fuck did this garner a cult following? I honestly think people must find it funny because the cast is usually funny so they’re laughing at the fact that they’re not funny in this. Maybe, I dunno.
Anyway, the prequel series is better than the movie, but that’s not saying much. Part of the reason it’s better is that Michael Showalter has aged so poorly in comparison to the rest of the cast that I couldn’t help but laugh at him whenever he was on screen. And yes, at him, not with him, so kind of sad really.
Much like the movie, it’s just not that funny, and when it is funny it’s thanks to new characters such as Jon Hamm playing an assassin or Michael Cera as a terrible lawyer. On the plus side, the plot is even more ludicrous than the film, so it does have that going for it. Again though, with genuine laughs rare, it’s once again relying on the presence of some fine actors to make you think it’s funnier than it is because these guys usually are much funnier than this.
Overrated piece of shit that isn’t even one-tenth as good as the original animated classic. It’s also responsible for the upcoming onslaught of live action updates to Disney animated classics that we’ll have to suffer through for years to come. Sure, you may think Alice in Wonderland is more at fault in this regard, but no, not really. That was still more of a Tim Burton/Johnny Depp production, so Disney had to try one more, star power free live action remake first before opening the floodgates, just to make sure there really were enough mindless sheep out there to line up for this dreck. And there were! So now we’re gonna get a live action Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, and even The Little Mermaid, plus half a dozen more, just to start! Have you no shame, Disney? Walt isn’t just rolling in his grave, he’s about ready to rise up and lead an undead army to war against this shit. If they ever attempt a live action The Nightmare Before Christmas, so help me God…
Ahem, as for the movie itself, it sucks. It’s poorly cast and the acting sucks. The score is boring. It’s way too long for such a simple fairly tale and the changes they made to extend the length are terrible. Let’s start with her name being Ella instead of Cinderella, which turns out to just be a nickname because she fell asleep near the fireplace. Whoever wrote that should be tried for treason. I can’t wait for the scene in the new Beauty and the Beast where it’s revealed that Belle is just a nickname because she likes to read outside the town bell tower.
Obviously the helpful animal stuff has been heavily reduced, because no one will believe that shit, and they added more interaction between Cinderella and the prince because no one falls in love at first sight. Oh, but wait, here comes the fairy godmother to turn a pumpkin into a carriage. If it’s a fairy tale, go the whole nine yards, don’t try to make some shit more realistic. Oh, and I miss the joke from the original where the mice were turned into horses and the horse into the coachman, haha. Now it’s just a dumb goose.
Finally, the most pointless change of all, that being the stepmother conspiring with the Grand Duke to keep Cinderella away from the prince. This serves no purpose other than to give Cate Blanchett a few more scenes. Plus the blackmail doesn’t hold any water considering the evidence is already destroyed. It’s dumb and doesn’t change a single thing that happens.
Oh, and they also throw in some don’t eat meat bullshit for good measure! Fuck this movie!
Fear the Walking Dead Season 1
AMC’s attempt to milk the undead cow is just as bad as one would expect, despite the ratings. Now The Walking Dead itself is far from perfect; it has terrible, lazy writing at times, characters constantly make stupid decisions, some characters are underused or ignored, etc. However, The Walking Dead makes up for that, for the most part, thanks to very strong acting performances from the majority of its cast and a solid group of characters that we can root for or against. Now imagine a spinoff with all that bad stuff and none of the good stuff. That’s Fear the Walking Dead.
The moronic title alone should prepare you for just how cheap and hackneyed this production is. It’s the exact same show, only taking place at the beginning of the outbreak. So I guess it’s supposed to be scarier? Certainly not to the audience, because we already know what’s going on and you can’t help but laugh at these idiots trying to figure things out. If The Walking Dead didn’t make it clear enough on its own, Fear the Walking Dead spells it out completely: The concept of zombies is completely unknown to this fictional universe.
But a dumb retread of the same old same old wouldn’t be so bad if the characters were entertaining, which of course they’re not. They’re a cliché mix of archetypes, the worst being one of my biggest pet peeves; the stereotypical product of divorce. “Waaahhhh, my parents don’t love each other, waaahhhh, I hate you, daddy, waaaahhhh.” Grow the fuck up you nitwit. And no one is likeable because they’re all a bunch of pussies in their own way. You can almost, almost like Frank Dillane as Nick Clark thanks to his Johnny Depp impersonation style of acting, but to this point he’s nothing more than a heroin addict whose only redeeming quality is that he’s somehow less whiny than the other kids.
Hot Chip’s Why Make Sense?
I’m not a big fan of the electropop group Hot Chip, but their fourth album, One Life Stand, is excellent and the follow-up, In Our Heads, is pretty good. Unfortunately their latest release is a steaming pile of shit. They went with a more stripped down sound on this one, something supposedly closer to their on-stage performances, and it just doesn’t work for me. The kinetic energy is gone, the multi-layered harmonies are mostly removed, and it’s almost completely missing that sense of fun I tend to get out of their music. Overall, it’s a very boring album and that’s not something I would have expected to say about a Hot Chip album. With previous releases even if there was stuff I didn’t like much it at least sounded interesting or was annoying in its quirkiness. Why Make Sense? is just blah.
That being said, the title track, the very last song on the album, is really damn good, which kind of makes me hate the album even more. I only keep full albums in my listening rotation, so because of that one great song I’m stuck with the whole thing and bound to end up hearing some of the crap on this album when I’d rather not. Ugh. Damn you, OCD, damn you to hell!
Pitch Perfect 2
Young millennial garbage. I couldn’t even pay attention through the whole thing (same applies to the first one) as it’s just so nauseatingly bad that my mind would drift off into thinking about mundane crap like paying the bills and groceries I needed to pick up, anything but listen to these spoiled brats prattle on about how everything is so super and totes awesome. Ugh. And when they’re not talking, they’re singing, which is even worse because it’s all Top 40 pop bullshit and not just any Top 40 pop bullshit, the absolute worst of the worst Top 40 pop bullshit. Pitbull! Flo Rida! Miley Cyrus! Carrie Underwood! Fall Out Boy! They even mine shit from the 90’s like Hanson, Montell Jordan, and Kriss Kross. I can’t recall a single good song making an appearance, but then it would only have been butchered by these shit a cappella performances so it doesn’t even matter.
There are a few laughs thanks to the banter between the judges, played by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, but that’s all this has to offer. However, if you like terrible pop songs, shitty dance choreography that has no place in an a cappella competition, and lame teen bullshit (such as “OMG I don’t want a free college education”), then this might just be the garbage for you.
Pretty Little Liars Season 5 Part 2 & Season 6 Part 1
The worst fucking show on television, period. I’ve ranted about how God awful this dumb fucking girls show is on numerous occasions, but I’ve never put any of it into an article, at least not that I can remember. Anyway, it’s the worst. THE WORST. I don’t even actively watch this show, it’s just background noise for me when the misses watches it, which would normally take it out of contention for this sort of thing, but no, it’s so fucking bad that the fact that I know it exists lowers my respect for everyone involved in its production. It’s so bad that my wife hasn’t liked it for a few seasons now, she’s just stuck having to finish it due to the ol’ OCD/spite combination that I also have.
So what’s wrong with the show? EVERYTHING! It’s all terrible; the acting, characters, writing, music, direction, all of it, terrible! Half the run time of each episode consists of close up shots of the dumb teenagers with shocked and/or thoughtful expressions combined with cliché “dun dun dun!” musical cues. And there is always something new to be shocked and/or thought about, in every frickin’ episode, even though 90% of the time it’s meaningless, misunderstood bullshit. The red herrings! The red herrings! Oh my God, the red herrings! Take just a handful of episodes of Pretty Little Liars and you’re find more red herrings than what was in all of The Killing and Twin Peaks combined.
Now for specifics that hopefully most of you won’t understand. It took six fucking seasons, SIX FUCKING SEASONS, for these dumb bitches (and the audience) to figure out who A was. SIX FUCKING SEASONS. But the plot is so ridiculously tangled by this point that it doesn’t make sense for only one person to have been A, so they have to take almost a full episode to try and explain how she wasn’t always A and multiple people have been A and WHO THE FUCK CARES THIS IS STUPID, FUUUCCCCKKKK!!!!!!!! She’s also some lunatic transgender or something, which has never once been mentioned on the show until now, so it feels like some lame diversity crap thrown in at the last minute to capitalize on current events. I’m not even alone in hating this crap either, even transgenders hated it because it was incorporated so pathetically that it came off as to imply that they’re all a bunch of nutbags.
Then, and this is actually from Season 6 Part 2 which began in January, but fuck it, I have to blast this shit too, they time-hop ahead 5 years, kill the transgender, and reveal that there is an Über A! So everything just goes back to square one for these idiots as they have to figure out a new mystery that’s the same as the old mystery because these writers are worse than cancer.
True Detective Season 2
I have a love/hate relationship with the first season thanks to a very weak ending and the fact that Nic Pizzolatto basically stole everything that made it interesting to begin with, apart from the brilliant acting from Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Still, it was definitely a great season overall and I was looking forward to another, possibly even better one. Hope started to shrink with the casting of guys like Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch, but that wasn’t enough to turn me off completely. Maybe it should have because I basically wasted eight hours of my life.
No one can tell me there is a good story to be found here, no one. It’s an overly complicated corruption plot that has been done better on numerous occasions. The first problem is we’re never given anyone to root for, other than perhaps Chad Velcoro. The characters are all a bunch of poorly written worthless fucks with no redeeming qualities. On top of that they’re forced to spew dialogue lifted from third rate soap operas that not even the greatest of actors could save, which there are none of here.
OK, Rachel McAdams is pretty good as Detective Bezzerides, but her character doesn’t do anything until that one episode where she saves the girl at the orgy party while on drugs. After that it’s back to being a passenger until she’s forced off to safety before the end. It’s pretty obvious she was only written into the show due to complaints about the previous season lacking a female lead. Kitsch as Officer Woodrugh is also surprisingly good and plays easily the best written character, only for them to inexplicably kill him off before his character arc is complete. Total fucking waste. As for the other two leads, fuck ’em. Vaughn’s performance as the crime boss Frank Semyon is laughable and giving the worst actor on the show the majority of the terrible dialogue ends up turning every serious moment he’s a part of into unintentional comedy. Meanwhile, Colin Farrell plays Detective Velcoro as some sort of pathetic nerd, which might have been the point really. If so, kudos I guess. Whatever, “Fuck you Colin Farrell, you’re the devil.”
The Sword’s High Country
I wasn’t a big fan of The Sword in the beginning. Their first two albums weren’t bad, but it wasn’t really the kind of doom metal I was into. Decent stuff, just not my cup of tea. That changed with their third album, Warp Riders, as they went on much more of a stoner metal/hard rock bent. This continued with the fourth album, Apocryphon, which wasn’t quite as good as the previous one but still pretty damn solid. Now I was hooked and eagerly anticipating their fifth album, High Country.
Man, what a letdown. High Country is essentially a classic rock album, a shitty classic rock album at that, and if I want to listen to shitty classic rock all I have to do is turn to the local shitty classic rock radio station. Hell, at least they occasionally play some good stuff. This fucking coaster doesn’t contain even one great song. OK, that’s a lie, there is a short instrumental track that I like a lot, but if all your 50 minute album has to offer is a few solid minutes of instrumental music, well, go back to the fucking drawing board.
I mean, I should have seen this coming, I suppose. They’ve always had classic metal and rock elements, with more and more of that showing up with every new release, but then going all the way into classic rock is fine in theory. It’s not like all classic rock is shit or anything, but if you’re gonna do it you’ve got to bring something new to the table. High Country doesn’t. It’s just a collection of pedestrian mid-tempo riffs and beats with mediocre vocals. John D. Cronise has never been a great vocalist, though it’s painfully more obvious here when it’s brought to the forefront.
Look, I’m not against bands evolving or changing their sound or whatever the fuck you want to call it. One of my favourite post-hardcore/screamo bands totally sold out with their third album, releasing an emo rock record with not one scream to be found, but it was still excellent. Change if you want to, just make damn well sure you’re changing into something as good or better, otherwise you’re going to royally piss off your current fans and probably have a hard time making new ones. Oh what am I saying, there are tons of imbeciles out there listening to shitty music. The Sword will have plenty of new fans to pawn this unimaginative shit off on.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I definitely didn’t go into the new Star Wars film expecting greatness, but I had hope that it would at least be good. In a way, it was good. I’ve previously said it was a pretty good popcorn action flick, but unfortunately it’s nothing more than that. As a Star Wars film it simply doesn’t work for me. It feels much more like a reboot of the franchise than an actual continuation of the original trilogies and in doing that it fails as a new episode in the saga.
If you think of The Force Awakens as a pure reboot it almost works, or at least works much better anyway. Reboots often retread a known story structure, so then it gets a pass on being almost an exact copy of A New Hope. Same with reused character models, scenes/shots, environments, etc. Updating for a new generation is technically fine so long as it’s executed well, but that’s not the case here. Everything reused was previously done better, often much better, making the reboot nature of the film entirely unnecessary. Of course, then you have to factor in that it’s not really a reboot anyway, so at that point it completely falls apart.
As a new entry into the existing Star Wars saga post-Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens is bad, really bad. All of the reused elements are now just lazy. ANOTHER Death Star? Come on, at least Lucas split his two apart with The Empire Strikes Back. Also, making the same mistake twice, sure, I’ll buy it, but three times? Fuck off. Even the apparent new stuff is just slightly tweaked old stuff. Rey is Luke, Finn is Han, and Poe is Leia. Sure, they all have little things that make them different, but they’re still the same character templates.
Then you have the literal old stuff that’s brought back and even it’s done poorly. I honestly can’t buy that Leia is nothing more than a General at this point, barely a respected one at that as far as the New Republic Senate is concerned. And Han seriously left her? No fucking way. No. Oh, you might say it’s realistic because people break up all the time, but you know what, fuck you. This is a space opera/fantasy series more than anything else and no, with the way everything went down, Han would not have left Leia. Period.
I could complain about more but others have done so better and in more depth than I have the time for so I’ll just leave off my saying I’m still looking forward to Episode VIII despite not liking this one. There are some good setup pieces from VII and I’d like to see if they can now pull off a good, ORIGINAL story with what they have to work with. However, my expectations will remain low. Rian Johnson is a fine director, but I don’t understand why they’ve placed him in charge of the screenplay as well with his limited/mediocre body of work in that area. At least J. J. Abrams fingerprints won’t be all over it.
The League Season 7
Big fan of The League from the very beginning. Hilarious show with some of the funniest characters on TV. I even like Taco, who everyone else seems to hate. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing? Anyway, awesome show that manages to keep the cliché group of friends dynamic fresh through the use of fantasy football, constant trash talk, and occasional absurdity.
Unfortunately, Season 7 was the final season of The League and it kind of fell flat in the end, all due to two major missteps. The beginning of the season is great, hell it’s pretty damn good right up until the final three episodes really. The sex education/bullying episode is the highlight of the season, “The Blind Spot” is great, and the episode before the misstep containing a show-within-a-show is excellent.
So what’s the major misstep? Well, the beginning of the antepenultimate episode announces that Ruxin’s wife, Sofia, has died during vaginal surgery. Nothing wrong with that, they’ve killed characters off before in hilarious ways. The execution here though is baffling. First they kind of sort of try to make it out that Sofia didn’t really die and Ruxin is using her fake death as sympathy for a trade. Again, that’s OK for these characters. But then at about the midpoint of the episode they confirm Sofia’s death and the rest of the episode turns fully animated to explain how Rafi and Dirty Randy brought her corpse back from Puetro Rico. That’s when it goes completely off the rails. I love the previous Rafi and Dirty Randy standalone episodes, but the characters just don’t work in animated form as nothing is left to the imagination. Now we’re literally seeing all of their weird shit unfold right before our eyes and it’s not as funny that way. Worse still is the dark cloud of Sofia’s death hangs over the final two episodes. The penultimate episode is pretty damn good on its own if you can separate it from the Sofia mess, but even then you’ll still have questions like what the hell happened to Baby Geoffrey (Sofia and Ruxin’s child)?
As for the finale, that’s where the other major misstep comes in. The episode has its moments, such as Larry David showing up to play Future Ruxin, Kevin literally losing his balls, and they keep nailing Draft Kings, but then they officially take things too far in how they handle the parentage of Andre and Meeghan’s child (Pete’s the real father). The show has been filled with cruel pranks throughout its run, but there’s just something not right about keeping a kid’s true parentage a secret from both him and his father for 18 years, only to reveal it via a video message. Then, to top it off, the kid is actually happy about who his real father is. Andre has had to bare the brunt of most of the group’s pranks, but this last one is just plain cruel, even by The League‘s standards.
Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly
I absolutely love Kendrick’s first two albums. Like many, I heard good kid, m.A.A.d city first and was floored by it. This kid took gangsta rap and basically turned it on its head, creating some of the most creative and engaging autobiographical West coast hip-hop in years. Then I went back and listened to Section.80, which was more of the same, just rougher around the edges like many debut albums. Dr. Dre’s guiding hand in the production chair probably helped in making good kid, m.A.A.d city a more cohesive and polished album than its predecessor, so news that Dre and Kendrick were working together again on the follow-up quickly made it one of my most anticipated albums of 2015.
To Pimp a Butterfly is important for its lyrical themes, thoughtfulness, and intelligence. It’s important in how it incorporates more-or-less the entire history of black American music. It’s important in how it elevates Kendrick into being a conscious voice for the black community. It’s a very unique album in the popular music landscape for this day and age and I can respect it for what it is and what it has accomplished.
With all that out of the way, I don’t like it. I’ve tried to like it, I really have, but I just can’t. I’ve listened to it four or five times from beginning to end, even with a nice break of a few months in-between to see if maybe coming back to it at a later date would change things, but nope, no such luck. Part of the problem is I’m not much of a fan of most of the genres of music it tries to incorporate into the standard rap/hip-hop mould, such as jazz, funk, and soul, and I really don’t give a shit about all the spoken word crap. The spoken word poetry or whatever that shows up at the beginning or end of roughly half the tracks, before being repeated/expanded upon after the final song, is annoying as hell. It wouldn’t be so bad if it only showed up at the end, but throwing it around everywhere ruins any sort of rhythm the album had built up.
I’m not impressed when looking at the songs individually either. Both tracks tagged as interludes suck, but let’s ignore them because they don’t necessarily count as songs. “Institutionalized” has annoying jazzy lounge music, a “shitty” chorus, and your classic phone-it-in appearance from Snoop Dogg. Actually, a lot of the songs are diminished by weak/lame choruses, namely “These Walls,” “Hood Politics,” “Complexion (A Zulu Love),” and “You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said).” Oh, and “u” but does irritatingly screaming “Loving you is complicated!” even count as a chorus? “i” is just as bad in that regard, until diverging into yet another spoken word piece anyway. As for what I like, there are a few good songs in “King Kunta,” “How Much a Dollar Cost,” and “Mortal Man,” but only two truly great songs, “Alright” and “The Blacker the Berry.” That’s simply not good enough for a 16-track album.
Overall, from beginning to end, To Pimp a Butterfly is a frustrating listen. It’s packed with filler and weak tracks that get in the way of the good stuff. As disappointing as it is for me though, I’d still recommend fans of Kendrick Lamar, or hip-hop in general, give it a listen. Even though it doesn’t work for me, it very well could work for others, and the consensus among most critics is that it does.
Well, that’s it for me. All I’m willing to officially write about anyway (I definitely hated more about 2015). How did you feel about 2015? Was it filled with as much crap as I think or did I just get the short end of the stick? Share your thoughts in the comment section!