In the 1960s, Lou Reed fronted avant-garde rock group The Velvet Underground, one of the most prophetic and influential bands of all time. Twenty years later, Metallica’s ferocious riffs and aggressive guitar solos helped to define the genre of thrash metal.
Lou Reed and Metallica have only one thing in common: their best work is well behind them. They are now more famous for being awful than for releasing revolutionary music. Despite coming from opposite ends of the musical spectrum, Reed and Metallica were somehow convinced that their styles would be compatible.
Their collaborative album, Lulu, was released on Nov. 1, and it was an instant classic, though of the worst kind. The first single, “The View”, is a truly vomit-inducing track that buries Lou Reed’s out-of-tune rant in a clutter of poorly produced thrash.
The rest of Lulu follows a painfully similar formula, and the album is a disastrous and unlistenable mess. While it might not be the worst album of all time – many reviewers have made this very case – Lulu will undoubtedly go down as one of history’s most puzzling musical collaborations.
People will be talking about this debacle for years to come. In that sense, Lulu is a classic.
I wish I knew what Lou Reed and Metallica were thinking when they decided to release the album. Anyone who has listened to them degenerate from musical innovators to bad jokes could have predicted Lulu’s failure. Perhaps it’s all just a massive prank. Maybe Lou Reed and Metallica are laughing right now as they watch a legion of music critics slowly driving themselves insane trying to understand the mysterious impetus behind Lulu.
On the other hand, a very small minority of people are trumpeting Lulu as a success, arguing that this is the sound of two artists releasing music for themselves without any thought to the commercial world. While I’m always in support of artists who follow their own vision, I just can’t get behind anything as atrocious as this.
The only promising element of the collaboration is that it might deter others from the irritating trend of collaborative projects bound for failure. Surely an album as bad as Lulu should serve as a warning sign.
Unfortunately, there’s little reason for hope. The latest rumblings on the Internet indicate that Kiss and Lady Gaga are considering collaboration. If Lady Gaga and Kiss have not found a name for their project, I would like to make a suggestion – “Disastrous Trainwreck.”
Please, don’t bother with an album. The musical world can only handle so many ‘classics’.