Hype and Substance

Clockwork AngelsHow often does a much-hyped creative work end up leaving you cold? I’m not talking about heavily-promoted artistic flops like Oasis’ infamous “Be Here Now”. I’m thinking more of things that create a huge buzz within a given fandom, but leave you scratching your head over quite what all the fuss is about.

Rush’s 2012 album “Clockwork Angels” is a case in point. When it came out many music fans of my acquaintance were speaking of it as an album of year, but barring a couple of songs the album failed make any strong impression on me at all. No matter how many times I listened the bulk of the album ended up going in one ear and out the other. The brickwalled mastering didn’t help, but neither did the the album’s lack of memorable songs. For me at any rate, it wasn’t a patch on golden age Rush from the 70s and 80s, and compared poorly with later albums such as “Counterparts”.

Have similar things happened to you? Can you think of albums or other creative works where sometimes it feels as if you’re the only person who doesn’t get it?

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3 Responses to Hype and Substance

  1. I think a big part of the buzz there was “Oh, cool, Rush does a concept album again!” — something which if memory serves hadn’t happened since “2112″. The mere idea of the album slobbered all over everything else about it in the minds of the trufanz [sic].

    Most any fandom has examples of this; I should actually take the time to do a full essay about it, because I could exhaust this space enumerating them. But a few recent ones come to mind: I thought Heinlein was grossly overrated by his fandom (influential, but being influential doesn’t mean you’re actually a good writer or a coherent thinker), and I thought “Ichi the Killer” was, despite all its fan blather, both pretentious and morally repugnant (not an easy combination to achieve).

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Heinlein is an interesting case, because there’s no denying he’s a hugely important and influential figure in the history of science fiction, even though much of what he wrote has dated badly. As for his skills as a prose stylist, were there any good writers in SF in the pulp-magazine days of the 40s and 50s? The more literary SF writers came a generation later.

  3. Mark Holmes says:

    I think I am one of the very few prog fans who is left completely cold by King Crimson. I’ve tried to like them, played different albums over and over again and cannot see what they are so revered. Their undoubted appeal is completely lost on me.

    As an aside, I happen to like Be Here Now and love Clockwork Angels! The latter has (IMHO) a smattering of classics – Caravan, BU2B, Headlong flight and the superb The Garden.