Farrah Abraham - My Teenage Dream Ended (Who Gives A Shit, 2012)
Album in a vaccuum:
Album in context:
-Still really bad.
Album as unintended performance art:
Album as a spring board for over-intellectualized music writing that is the equivalent of JO'ing to yourself in the mirror:
I'm not one who needs music to conform to popular standards, trust me, but this is just wanky beyond belief. She's not painting broad, expressionistic strokes with her lyrical imagery, she's just a bad lyricist with a limited vocabulary. Her music isn't a satire of electronic dance pop. It's very earnestly trying to be good, which in terms of the genre she is shooting for, it's actually really bad. She's not trying to put her soul on record or challenge our notions of music and art, she's trying to extend her 15 minutes of fame. It's not a peephole into American culture circa 2012, it's a boring story about a girl who did dumb things and is trying her best to squeeze all the exploitation juices she can out of the rotten fruit of her decisions.
The content is neither unique nor interesting, though if you create some false narrative and get people to buy into it you could imagine that this is some outsider piece of art where the creator foregoes cultural norms because they want to create something "real" regardless of their talent or experience. This is stupid. Don't form your own backstory to validate this album when the girl's history points towards completely different motives. I appreciate music as art, concept, vision, etc., and I'm not going to assume I know anyone's intent behind this, but I'm guessing she's trying to make money and not create something future music nerds see as "art". Regardless, I would guess that you could find a lot of similar music on myspace that is as equally personal as it is bad, but this album gets to be special, for not much more reason, in my opinion, besides the fact that this girl attained some z-list celebrity status from MTV.
I think, if anything, it's not this record that is an open window into the cultural zeitgeist of today, it's the way that it's being reviewed by the "intellectual" music listeners. There is no peephole because everything is laid bare for us. It smacks of our voyeuristic and weird obsession with sharing everything and knowing everything on an immediate basis, especially in relation to "celebrity". Stuff like the Shaggs, Daniel Johnston, Stevie Moore, Jandek, those nuns who made psychedelic music in the 70s, they didn't have an immediate audience. It was truly outsider art that didn't gain notoriety until years after it started because it slowly appealed to people on a personal level. This is an open and available book for all, much like most of our lives in the digital age. It's something that we can assign value to and show off our own "intelligence" by reviewing for anyone on the internet to see, but trying to label it as outsider art that will be appreciated in years to come is fabricating a narrative that is unproven and only serves to bolster ones own opinion or, "musical capital" (i.e. the recognition that comes with being so "forward-thinking" aka good old fashioned narcissism). And look, I know that all music gains value from arbitrary and subjective judgments, but if you have to literally create your own backstory and speculate on future value to find what's good about an album, it's probably not a very good album. It's mostly just something that is going to get chewed up and spit out by the 24/7 internet news cycle, only having real value in being fodder for meta, post-modern writing, which is no longer pushing boundaries, just being lazily self-interested (much like this album!).
Yes, it's a voyeuristic and narcissistic piece of music that clumsily documents a girl's bad decisions throughout life, but if there is anything interesting or valuable to be gained, any zeitgeist to be captured, it's the voyeuristic and narcissistic manner in which the music is being digested and valued by "high-minded" society that is as equally as interested in consuming things as it is crapping them out and poking around the mess, no different from the effect of reality TV on it's participants, just with a little faux-intellectualism sprinkled in. If this album later gets recognized as "art" by more people, you were first in line singing its praises. If it doesn't, no one will remember or care. Good work. Congratulations.