Friday, October 23, 2009

Creed is What?

I'm as happy to be contrarian as the next guy. Happier, in fact. But Slate's habit of taking the other side has never been quite this crazy. I give you: "Creed Is Good: Scott Stapp's nu-grunge foursome was seriously underrated."

Come again, Willis?

It would take some serious rhetorical skill to rescue the reputation of the strange combination of bombast and sleep-induction that is the music of Creed. It would also help if the writer's audience was composed entirely of people who have lost the sense of hearing. Slate critic Jonah Weiner doesn't even come close:
In his lyrics, Stapp is a well-meaning, Bible-fluent doofus, easy to chuckle at but difficult to imagine hating. . . . The trouble wasn't that he was a blustery, would-be messiah (that didn't stop Bono's canonization) so much as the unrepentant hamminess he brought to the role: ample baritone quaking and churning, arms outstretched atop mountains and hovering, Christlike, above crowds in music videos.
So now, "difficult to imagine hating" is the same thing as "good"? And the "doofus" doesn't seem connected to "Bible-fluent." Just because you know the Bible doesn't mean you have to write lyrics like: "Well I don't know if I'm ready / To be the man I have to be / I'll take a breath, I'll take her by my side / We stand in awe, we've created life."

But maybe Weiner's just building up to his heavy artillery. Here we go:
Every surging riff, skyscraping chorus, and cathartic chord progression telegraphed the band's intention to rock us, wow us, move us. . . . One of the surprises involved in returning to Creed with a fresh pair of ears is how rocking, exciting, and, yes, moving, the songs can be.
Uhh. Rocking, exciting and moving? Those are some sharp adjectives. But OK, OK, once we dig down deeper, surely there's a case to be made:
"Bullets" is a furious blast of metal and one of the most galvanizing persecution anthems ever penned: "At least look at me when you shoot a bullet through my head! Through my head! Through my head!" he howls, presumably at the band's haters.
Oh, boy. I'm all for defending dynamic music that others might call dumb -- music that is, in fact, moving and rocking. But it will take someone else to convincingly defend Creed. In the meantime, one Slate commenter succinctly makes the prosecution's case:
People hate Creed because their infantile, derivative, boring music represents the absolute least-common denominator of modern rock (at least they did until Nickelback underbid them).



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