Scream

Janet and Michael Jackson's 1995 "Scream" video was set on a futuristic spaceship with brittle windows.

Chris Cornell today released his third solo album, the Timbaland-produced Scream.

[Listen here]

The once bombastically soulful grunge-rocker said this time around he wanted to achieve a “disconnect with all preconceived ideas of what a rock record should be or what a rock singer should do.

Mission accomplished.

As allmusic.com’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted, the record sounds like “skittering, generic dance-pop…only graced by Cornell’s caterwaul, sometimes looped, sometimes manipulated by AutoTune because that’s what you do with a pop album in 2009.

Erlewine managed to find a highlight in the bluesy hidden track, “Two Drink Minimum,” featuring John Mayer on guitar, but failed to mention the fleeting ray of hope at the end of “Climbing Up the Walls” (starting at 4:10).  In a seemingly ad-libbed solo acoustic jam, Cornell sings:

Drunk, he’s fast asleep.

He’s so tired, makes me weep.

He stays up all night working on his songs.

But then I guess we all do the same thing.

(talking) He still asleep?

The next and final track, “Watch Out,” begins with a whispered “wake up.”  This hint confirmed my suspicion that the preceding musical oasis was just a mirage.  Indeed, it succumbed to the rigor of a second listening.  After seemingly unending repetitions of “pick it up, pick it up, watch out, now pick it up…” the suffering concludes with the flickering sound of a finished tape reel.  Considering the digital nature of this product, the sound of a tape reel is inappropriate.  Also inappropriate is the Zelda-like intro of the album opener “Part of Me” along with the fact that Chris Cornell and Timbaland made an album together.

Amid all the Bizarro Axl Rose-esque production, Cornell actually manages to sound decent throughout.  However, he’s never decent enough to make any song stand out.*

scream_1scream_3scream_4scream_5

*Possible exception:  “Two Drink Minimum.”  A 20-second clip starts at 2:00.

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And now, some uplifting news.

Kelly Clarkson’s** All I Ever Wanted also dropped today.  This guilty pleasure mixes just enough syrup-rock intensity with delicious vocals to make you forget Scream ever existed!

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In memoriam:

M.A.C.C. “Hey Baby (Land of the New Rising Sun)

**Idol Alert!
Tonight at 8 p.m. EST the top 13 perform “the songs of Michael Jackson.”  (Look out for 16-year-old Allison Iraheta!)

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