Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Teenager Girl Sitting In The Corner Just Name-Checked Marshall McLuhan. And there is an old man walking around with a Sea Captain's hat on his head. Welcome to the Starbucks in the town where I went to university.
Despite my repeated and angry demands, NOW refused to give me the 5,000 words necessary to properly discuss the new Fall Out Boy record. Here are the 130 or so I got. After writing them I actually came to realize that my new favourite thing about Fall Out Boy is Patrick Stump's voice (1). Particularly the fact that it's not just rock-singer-good, but American-Idol-good.

This is an important, if obvious, distinction. Liam Gallagher had a great rock star voice. Brandon Flowers is developing a great rock star voice (2). But neither of them would do very well on American Idol (3). Stump, on the other hand, would have dominated AI. If he entered this year's competition, he'd be guaranteed a top five finish. He has that good a voice. A great voice by the standard measure of AI, which is really more of an athletic competition than anything.

In fact, I dare say you could put Stump against Justin Timberlake and, at worst, Stump is coming out of there with a draw. In the entire history of white, 20-something male pop voices, he's probably near the middle of the Top Ten - behind the young Frank Sinatra, but well ahead of Rick Astley (4). And I can't remember the last time that kind of voice - that quality of that kind of voice - was singing for one of the biggest rock bands on the planet.

Bono has a powerful voice, but he'd get killed on AI. Chris Martin is pretty, but his voice is sort of like his lyrics (weaker the more you think about it). None of the Beatles were very good singers. Mick Jagger's singing is really just fancy talking. The Stump, on the other hand, has one of those rangey voices that tends to rule pop music in the post-hip-hop paradigm. Simon Cowell would love him (5). On his own, he could easily get a record deal or at least have fronted S Club 7. And that's not true of almost anyone who's led a (great) rock band in the past 15 years (6).

... Furthermore, Fall Out Boy might be the first rock band more influenced by NSync and Jay-Z than they are by any "rock" source or tradition. As much as I love the new Bruce Springsteen revival (7), it's intriguing to think that Fall Out Boy might be the first in a run of 21st century rock bands who aren't inspired by the Beatles/Rolling Stones/Sex Pistols/Chuck Berry/Nirvana/Pink Floyd/Clash/Pavement/Neil Young/Talking Heads/Zwan.

(1) My second favourite thing: Patrick Stump's choice of hats.
(2) Note how he stretches out the word "young" in the chorus of When You Were Young. He nearly makes it an eight syllable word.
(3) Though how much would you pay to just see Liam audition? In his prime, he probably would have beaten Randy Jackson with his own shoe, spit beer in Paula Abdul's face and then slept with Simon's girlfriend. All before security even had a chance to remove him from the building.
(4) Astley had way better dance moves though.
(5) Paula would love his hats.
(6) The exception might be Maroon 5. But what will forever doom Maroon 5 is the fact you can totally tell the lead singer is a dickhead. No one will ever say as much in a review of their next record, but it's true.
(7) The highlight of the next Arcade Fire tour is going to be him making a surprise appearance on stage one night to guest on Antichrist Television Blues.

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