Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When a music review rocks the boat too much!

So I learned today that because of an unhappy publicist, my review of “pop sensation” Jay Aura’s latest EP, iParty was removed from a music website for which I freelance. I understand that the editors have a business to run and sometimes labels need to be placated in order to keep the house in order. Unfortunately, this is one occasion where a critic’s opinion (and I use the term critic loosely, as I honestly see myself more as a fan of music openly discussing what I like and don’t like in review form) is superseded by the whim of an “artist” who simply cannot take criticism.

Allow me to add a bit of context; this website to which I contribute largely makes its bread & butter from content in the indie, alternative, esoteric, and hard rock genres. So when something like this comes across my desk, it screams of someone simply fishing for free advertising, as he obviously has no prior investment with the site; otherwise, he'd KNOW that this type of "music" is not central to the site's readership.

The site's business model is also fairly simple, and predominantly beneficial to the "artist" - you pay for an ad, and you get a guaranteed review of your albums (which really is great, because it serves as two adverts for the price of one, and the choice of reviewing is no longer left to the whim of the editors/contributors - it MUST be reviewed.) What makes this particular situation even more interesting is that I am usually called upon as the "last resort" reviewer, meaning that when the editors simply cannot convince any of their other contributors to give a decent (or honest) assessment of a recording by the ad deadline, it typically falls to me to churn one out. So I'd actually love to be a fly on the wall when the publicist complains about the lack of review for this album on the site and the editors have to explain to them that there was no one on the staff who actually liked the album, and the one review that was posted, you asked to have removed.

I was going to just let it die and move on, but there was a nagging twinge in the back of my mind telling me not to allow the marketing companies to dictate personal opinions. So, without further ado, here is that review in its unedited entirety, with a short addendum as a closer, for your viewing enjoyment. For what are blogs for if not to bring some form of written pleasure?

JAY AURA – iParty (Island / Def Jam)

Throwing caution and any semblance of musical integrity to the wind, Beverly Hills “bad boy” Jay Aura somehow managed to collect some money (though he apparently turned down modeling gigs and an artist development deal), found a studio that would tolerate him (or paid the Ark Music Factory to write some “songs” for him, a la the unfortunate Internet sensation Rebecca Black). This is the most soulless, superficial excuse for an album/EP I have ever heard.

Kicking off with a “song” called “I Won’t Remember,” which is a celebration of the fine art of binge drinking on the town, I can only guess that this “artist” is the ill-fated progeny of the Jersey Shore generation – where talent, intelligence and skill are superseded by over-inflated attitude, extreme self-fulfillment, and the burning desire to acquire wealth while doing the least amount of real work.

Lyrically, Aura wields the English language as deftly as a third-grader. For example, rather than using common vernacular like “taxi cab,” he prefers to call it a “taxi car,” for the sole purpose of rhyming it with “bar” in the next line.

And like the aforementioned Black, his voice is processed and Auto-tuned to the point where on each track, he sounds like he is “singing” underwater. Even on tracks where he speaks rather than “sings,” his voice is altered like he is in the Witness Protection Program or hiding behind some superhero disguise. Go talk to some fish, Aquaman!

And if you are looking for any inspiration from the music itself, well, you can forget that, too, as the guy’s backing track is little more than regurgitated mid-1990’s house music. If you have a taste for uninspired tripe which can only serve as the soundtrack to getting drunk on a dance floor, then by all means, enjoy! This reviewer has zero tolerance for someone who dares consider himself an “artist,” yet has such vehement ignorance to what music is and the creative process.

Saddest of all, based on the evidence produced, Jay Aura is most likely one of those ego-maniacal simpletons who doesn’t care if he is being criticized or praised, he is simply satisfied that his name is being uttered at all. And simply being assigned to review this abomination, I am inadvertently feeding the beast.

If you feel you absolutely must listen to this guy’s aural nonsense, by all means, listen to it for free at his MySpace page, and do not give him the satisfaction of paying for it at iTunes! Keep this drivel underground, where it can die a harmless death.

Was I too harsh on the guy? Maybe; but between the godawful music and the mega-hype text and photos on the guys website, this guy really needed to be taken down a notch. Even if only 10 people ever see this post, it at least gave me an outlet to vent a particular frustration.