2010's Top 5 Most Disappointing Albums
Published Dec 21, 2010In a music world increasingly driven by hype, we often know everything about an album before we hear it. Many times, a good lead-up campaign can make for a great release on an album that may have wallowed in obscurity otherwise. But hype also has its downside, as highly anticipated records fall flat when they fail to meet our inflated expectations. Sure, 2010 had some incredible albums, but many of the ones we were excited about at the end of 2009 ended up being some of the year's most disappointing moments. Here are five albums that particularly bummed us out.
Head to the next page to begin Exclaim!'s list of 2010's Top 5 Most Disappointing Albums: 5. T.I.
T.I.'s return to rap after a year in jail on weapons charges could have been huge. The Southern rapper was just beginning to enjoy his full-on mainstream breakthrough with 2008's Paper Trail, and his post-prison Fuck a Mixtape suggested he was ready to tear some beats apart. The record was initially supposed to be called King Uncaged, but then the king went and got himself caged again and is now serving another prison sentence. The album's title was changed to No Mercy and features T.I. wiping a tear from his eyes on the cover. Seriously? You want the public to feel pity for you? As bad a start as that is, the music isn't much better, with cobbled together singles like the endlessly shitty Chris Brown collaboration "Get Back Up." The Kanye-featuring opener "Welcome to the World" and Eminem's verse on "That's All She Wrote" make the album partially worthwhile, but T.I.'s unbearably hypocritical moralizing and cry-baby routine, alongside his hunger for a pop hit, lead No Mercy to self-destruction. At least T.I. will have a lot of time to think about what he's done. 4. MGMT
Oracular Spectacular, MGMT's 2008 breakthrough album, was a pretty good record as a whole, but what really got them huge was the world-dominating singles "Kids," "Electric Feel" and "Time to Pretend." Two years later, Congratulations saw the duo ditch their accessible prog pop almost completely. It's by no means a bad record, as our review describes it as "a consistent, cohesive burst of pop adventurousness that makes their debut look facile by comparison." Still, song for song, there are no moments on Oracular Spectacular that come anywhere near the stunning excitement of MGMT's breakthrough singles. The duo are obviously more than welcome to do whatever they want with their sound, and may strike gold once again, but the legions of disappointed fans waiting for more blissful synth pop are a byproduct that comes with such artistic meandering. 3. Squarepusher presents Shobaleader One
In 2009, Squarepusher took a hiatus from electronic music, instead opting to release a full album of improvised solo bass performances, suitably called Solo Electric Bass 1. Then he started to build up hype again this year, teaming up with filter house tastemakers Ed Banger and eventually announcing an album called d'Demonstrateur from an all-live band called Squarepusher presents Shobaleader One. The resulting album is, well, a Daft Punk rip-off that would have been cool when blog house was a genre tag people used. If your dad just discovered Justice and welded a robot costume in the garage, this is what he would be listening to. Making French touch sound, er, out of touch, Squarepusher proved that he should stick to his strong suits and return to a career in IDM. 2. Daft Punk
Tron: Legacy OST
The only thing more disappointing than Squarepusher's fake Daft Punk album was Daft Punk's fake Daft Punk album. Since it was first rumoured in the spring of 2009, we've been collectively losing our shit over the prospect of Daft Punk scoring the sci-fi sequel Tron: Legacy. A pair of French touch electro robots writing the theme music for an uber-nerdy cult film sequel was, in our heads, a match made in heaven. The film's marketing department agreed, practically centering their entire campaign on the fact that they recruited the electro legends. When it finally came out, the harsh reality set in: this is a film score for a major blockbuster. There are moments where Daft Punk sound like Daft Punk, as on the semi-single "Derezzed," but the majority of the album is a symphony-heavy score with sparing electronic undertones. For what it is, it's an excellent listen, but it's not the triumphant return of Daft Punk that it was chalked up to be. 1. M.I.A.
Since breaking out with her debut album Arular in 2005, M.I.A. had a near perfect track record. Kala in 2007 continued her upward trajectory with her political messages attached to increasingly radio-friendly beats. Sure, the album was still centred on her highly global, forward-thinking sound, but it also included her smash hit "Paper Planes." When she announced plans for ///Y/, the music world was naturally abuzz. Between the album's announcement and arrival, however, M.I.A. slowly became a parody of herself, marrying a billionaire and moving to Los Angeles while maintaining her vast politicizing. Worse than that, the album itself lacked any cohesion, applying a weird, bastardized punk spirit to her electronic tracks, resulting in some weird but unwelcome post-goth rock that Diplo likened to Skinny Puppy. Rounded out by wannabe pop hits ("XXXO") and plain old bad ideas ("Meds and Feds"), M.I.A.'s third album was a calculated effort that ultimately fell apart at the seams.