I started this year with the inevitable hope that it would be filled with kick-arse music of the highest order. The signs were good: Black Flag are getting back together, NSYNC never will, and Johnny Cash got made into a stamp (which completes his accession to Sainthood in a lot of peoples eyes). There was hope, there was possibility, there was joy.
Then not only did Coldplay's "Clocks" (a 4:18 intro with the passion of a dandelion going off) get voted the best track of the last 10 years (that's 10 years in which we've had Adel, The Streets, The White Stripes, The Arctic Monkeys, and a million other quality mainstream acts) and proved Radio 6 to be for people who have stopped actually liking music but now Fall Out Boy have decided they are going to get back together for a new single, a new album and a tour. Clearly we need more pain in our lives and I'm quite sure that FOB are going to deliver it.
I would like to point out that I don't normally have too much of a problem with bands like this. It's not my cup of tea but I accept that for others its the finest of wines. The total media saturation of that follows them whenever their strike a cord tends to annoy me somewhat (especially if I venture into a rock channel on TV to them find them gurning back at me for 5 days on a row) but they have a major amount of record label money behind them so can buy all the publicity they want. Nope, my problem comes from two simple sources:
1 - I really don't think they are very good.
They can do light, catchy tunes but it's the same tune every-time They can do precision produced videos, but it's the same video each time. They can do live shows but its the same moves (spin 2,3,4 jump 2,3,4 kick 2,3,4 slowbit 2,3,4). They can do 'meaningful and heartfelt lyrics' everytime but... actually they are just bog awful when you sit down and listen to them. Or rather when you read the lyrics-sheet because the singer has got such a weird warble to his voice that it all comes out like a flurry of jam at a hyperactive dinner table. It's been done, to death. They are popular because they are the boiling down of all that has come before to its most easily consumed nothingness.
2 - They are total sellouts.
Now this is a term I don't use much as I tend not to have a problem with artists making money. However FOB used to be a hardcore band until they decided to turn emo and be as commercial as possible. This was not 'right time, right place', this was solid intention and has resulted in them going for the mass appeal with the precision of a cruise missile. They are Hot-Topic at its very worst: this is a brand that is innately inoffensive being pushed as the next big thing to upset your parents even though your parents won't realise your listening to anything that even begins to describe itself as 'punk' or even 'rock'. The band makes a lot of noise about liking pop but they fail to mention that their main influence is Maurice Starr and Lou Pearlman.
I try to keep these things positive but on this one I just can't. There will be no classic singles or memorable concerts from their return, just a steady stream of cash into their banks and a flood of over-exposure. Meanwhile the thing that could have been the next big thing will have to spend this year brushing up on their act rather than having the chance for their big break.