Radioactive by Kings of Leon. There is this emotion, or sentiment for Serious Music Critics and just assholes in general. It’s probably best and most bluntly expressed as “I liked them before they got big.” I hate this sentiment. I think it’s complete bullshit. I think it’s the currency that faux-music-hipsters dispense amongst themselves (as in: “I saw them at “X shithole place” before you even knew who they were. Whadda you got?”) and wish they could use this claim to belittle everyone else who fails to have their jaded, overly-analytical and pretentious view of most music. It’s both disingenuous and ass-holey (made up word). (“sighs”) I liked Kings of Leon so much more before they got big. It just sounded so great, the story. Three sons of a de-frocked Pentecostal minister and their cousin (all the grandsons of Leon) decided they wanted to make rock-n-roll. There were (are) so many things about them that endear them to me. That story being a huge one. Their Oklahoma ties. Their unpretentious willingness to write songs about the fun things about being a rock star, the drugs, the chicks, the partying. I loved that they realized it’s supposed to be fun, this playing music in front of thousands and hearing your songs on the radio. Their embrace of that was refreshing. And, frankly, the music was unreal. Plenty of you know my affection for them and it’s legitimate. Listen to Joe’s Head and tell me that’s not a great song and rock vocal. Slow Night, So Long was in the WD top 10 songs of the decade. “6. Previous statements in WD excepted, (almost) every movie I’ve ever constructed in my head ends like this: A wide angle shot of a busy bar. The camera pans and then floats overhead. Slow Night, So Long plays over the credits.” So I was, and I guess am, a huge fan. But they hit a point, and I’m not sure where it was, and they plateaued. And I think I know (in an I-really-have-no-idea sense) what happened. They did all of the things and fell victim to all of the things one (watch it) is supposed to do if one aspires to be a rock star. They made a lot of money. And they are going to make more with this album (which, so far, I have yet to find anything distinguishing about). And it’s hard for me not to be proud of them. That’s what rock stars are supposed to do correct? Be famous. Would you give a shit about Bono but for In The Name of Love or One. Would you give a shit about Vedder but for Jeremy or Cobain for Smells like Teen Spirit or Stipe but for Losing My Religion? Punishing them for success is silly, because, but for the success, you wouldn’t care. So this is Kings of Leon and they’re millionaires and we can call them sell outs or whatever the preferred nomenclature is. But if I were them, my response would be a simple “fuck you guys, call me when you win a Grammy. I’ll be on my private jet.”
OK, I got that out (after proof-reading this, the above paragraph space is superfluous. But, at least it breaks things up). Now from a pure asshole music critic who has always been an unapolgeitc fan of KOL, even now, the disappointing part is that it came so close to being something, for me, really special. If they’d just a touch more My Morning Jacket or maybe Titus Andronicus and played the music that’s in them, that dirty shit. The music of these guys, not these guys. It really could of been fantastic like Skynyrd cross-bred with a hard rock Petty/Black Crowes combination. But it didn’t happen. Now it’s slicked up, when all it needed to do for me was dirty up, or stay dirty. But then only morons like me would really like it and I don’t have that much money. So listen to this song, or hell, even the whole album and be proud of them, Oklahomans (and I’ll just think about what might have been). Enjoy.